Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Tamales

Every year I make tamales at Christmastime. Other people make gingerbread houses. I have tried to make a gingerbread house exactly four times in my life, with exactly four fiascoes. I have resolved never to try again, but you never know. I am quite certain that I won't be trying again until Heather is old enough to ask me why we never make gingerbread houses like all the other kids.

Anyway, here's the tamale recipe. For your reading enjoyment, at the end of the recipe there are some photos and helpful hints as well.

Oh-and you might wonder where I learned to make tamales. The fact is, I learned to LOVE tamales when I was an LDS missionary, but I learned to MAKE tamales through trial and error (lots of error) over about 10 years.

(recipe taken from side of the "Maseca for Tamales" bag, and then adapted to my liking)

4-5 lbs boneless pork loin or shoulder (you may substitute chicken or beef)
Tamale Dough (see below)
2 or 3 pkgs of taco seasoning mix
1-2 tsp of red pepper (this can be omitted if you don't want the extra kick)
1 ½ cup water
1 bag corn husks

Put meat in crock pot, covered with water and cook on low overnight, or until very tender. Remove inner pot from heating element, and refrigerate until ready to make tamales (1-2 days max). Remove from refrigerator. Skim fat. Warm up broth in microwave to use in dough. Put pork in a fry pan with the water, taco seasoning, and red pepper. Simmer until pork separates and looks like shredded port (see picture). Turn temperature to very very low, and let simmer while you make the tamale dough. (see below).

Soak corn husks for a few minutes (I just fill up one side of the kitchen sink) and rinse well. Spread masa evenly (and thinly) over corn husks with the back of a spoon. Place a line of meat (about 1-2 Tablespoons) down the center. Fold both sides to the center, fold bottom up, and crease. Place in steamer. Cover with lid or a wet cloth and steam until dough appears to be set, 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Makes one large stock pot full of tamales (approx. 45-50 small)

6 cups of maseca for tamales
6 cups of lukewarm broth or water
3 tsp. Baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
2 cups lard of vegetable shortening (I ALWAYS use shortening)

Put shortening in kitchen aid, beat until fluffy. Add Baking Power & Salt, and then alternate water and Maseca. Beat until dough has a spongy texture.
* * *
That's the end of the recipe, and now here are the
Helpful Hints

Helpful Hint #1:
If you happen to own a sweatshirt featuring your favorite professional football team, this is a good time to wear it. Of course, you'll want to cover said sweatshirt with an apron (preferably a yellow one), so you don't get it splattered with pork juice or tamale dough.

Helpful Hint #2:
Playing your favorite Christmas music while making the tamales makes the tamales turn out more tasty. Trust me on this one.

Helpful Hint #3:
Put a glass of water on the strainer as well as pouring some water into the bottom of the pan. It helps you have more steam.

Helpful Hint #4:
If you can get the Kitchen Aid, the fry pan with the pork in it, and the stock pot with the strainer all in a line, it speeds up the assembly process significantly.

Helpful Hint #5:
Here are some pictures of the whole tamale assembly procedure. I guess this isn't really a hint, but I think it's probably pretty helpful.

Final Helpful Hint (#6):
It's WAAAY more fun to make tamales if you do it along with a friend or family member. (If the family member happens to stay awake during it all, so much the better.)

And there you have it. All is well with us these days. It's been snowy and cold, but we have a warm home and superb people that surround us on every side. If that's not enough to keep us toasty, I don't know what is.


Ryan + Angie said...

I love your tamale tradition!

Bamamoma said...

I love your tamales! Seriously, they are the BEST I've ever tasted! We can't wait to see you soon.

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