Widgets Magazine

Jun 17, 2011

Food for Thought: Tamales

Can't blame him. Eww...

When we first got married, my sweetie told me he hated Mexican food. Now this was a real problem for me since the only cooking I had really done was for my job at Taco Time. Over the years he has mellowed quite a bit and as it turns out, Mexican is one of his favorites, just not the little frozen tamales in the yellow bag or school lunch tacos.

You all know that Gamer is Hispanic, so when he joined the family it was only marginally difficult to get my sweetie to try a few new recipes. He passed on the offer of menudo (made out of beef stomach in a clear broth), but agreed to try tamales (even though the frozen ones were a real issue for him as a kid).

The first time Gamer and Bossy made tamales were for Taco’s blessing day. In the Mormon faith, a baby has a blessing day at approximately six to eight weeks old. Traditionally, the extended family is invited and after the church service we hold a big family party. For us that means cooking for 40 to 50 people. It can get pretty chaotic preparing for a party like that, particularly when there are several of us cooking at the same time. My sweetie and I were busy preparing the various side dishes while Gamer and Bossy were handling the steaming of the tamales.

With all the stress and excitement, Gamer accidentally set the hot steamer pan directly on our countertop. Now when he was growing up that would have been no big deal since his mom had tile countertops. Unfortunately, our laminate countertops did not fare so well. At least we got a lasting memento of a wonderfully memorable occasion. Everyone loved the tamales and they have received many requests to make them again. So here you go, Tamales, Gamer/Bossy-style. Hope you enjoy them. Leave me a comment and let me know!

Pictures of Gamer happy with the camera are rare.

1 ¼ lbs boneless pork loin or shoulder
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 bag chile pasilla or dried California pods
4 oz California chili powder 
1/8 cup cooking oil
¾ cup water
½ tablespoon salt
1 bag cornhusks
2 ½ lbs prepared masa (dough)

Tamale Dough
2 cups of Maseca for tamales
2 cups lukewarm broth or water
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2/3 cup lard or vegetable shortening

In a crock pot or large pan cover meat with water. Add fresh garlic and black pepper. Simmer until done, time varies depending on your pot. It can cook longer, just remember to add water when low.

Pic credit
Prepare pods by removing stems and seeds (opt). (Remember the seeds give it heat. If you use mild pods I recommend only de-steming.) Lightly saute pods in cooking oil. They burn easily, so watch closely and the flavor will be fine if they are slightly black.

Place softened pods in blender, add water, and 1 oz chili powder and blend until smooth. While blending, remove pork from pan and place on a large cutting board. Drain water and rinse pot well. Shred pork with two forks. Place shredded pork and blended chili mixture back in the crockpot on warm (low on stove). Cook until ready to roll, stirring occasionally.

Soak cornhusks for a few minutes and rinse well. Quickly sort husks. Set ripped or small husks aside to make ties. Select a size and prepare most of the husks to that size. Add excess to the tie pile.  Tear tie pile into 1/2 inch strips.

Prepare Masa (dough).
Combine Maseca, baking powder, remaining chili powder, and salt in a bowl, work broth or water with your fingers to make a soft moist dough. In a small bowl, beat shortening until fluffy, add masa and beat until dough has a spongy texture.

Spread masa evenly over cornhusks, place a tablespoon of meat mixture in the center.

Fold all sides to the center, and tie with small pieces of cornhusks. Place in steamer. Cover and steam for approximately 1 hour.


Hi I'm Rhonda. said...

I have had to train myself not to set hot pans down on the counters. I've had tile and now we have this weird laminate stuff. No bueno. And I may attempt that recipe, although I am like your hubs...tamales freak me out. bad experience I s'pose.

Rach (DonutsMama) said...

Yum. I love homemade tamales. Here in Texas, a lot of women will sell homemade tamales around Christmastime to earn a little extra $$. We love to buy them and freeze them so we have some goodies!

Family Recipe said...

That seems like a lot of work. I will just wait for you guys to make them!


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