I’m not going to attempt to do a description on this one. I’m just going to write this step by step. Partly because to fully understand tamales if you’ve never had it then that will help, and partly because I’ve just made them and am now waiting for them to finish steaming.
When I was little I remember a segment on Reading Rainbow, or was it Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood, when they watched the making of tamales. My family loves tamales. Loves tamales. Bryan loves tamales too. Not too long ago he had his first real tamales. I mean the ones where you have to peal away the husk yourself.
To begin with you soak corn husks in water for a few hours or overnight. Where does one get dried corn husks? We tried the local supermarket in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood. They did not have it. So we cruised the Hispanic neighborhood and found a supermarket sign in Spanish. Bingo. We found the corn husks and masa.
The next step is to make the filling. I poached some chicken breasts because I had them on hand… I’m lazy like that. Or resourceful. Whatever. For the other part of the filling you mix masa, stock, lard, salt, and baking powder. Now, I’m not sure what masa is. The recipe said you can use either 2 pounds of fresh masa or 31/2 cups dry masa harina. I don’t know what either is. I’m not ever sure I got the right thing. I purchased something a kin to corn meal, only finer with masa on the label. So I used 2 pounds of that. I mixed all this with my handheld electric mixer. I cursed several times and told Bryan that I need a 5 qt. KitchenAid electric mixer preferably in silver or light blue. He said okay. I will be anxiously awaiting my mixer now, but I have a feeling it won’t be coming anytime soon.
The recipe said to mix it until the dough is light and fluffy and it is ready when a ball of dough floats in water. I beat and beat that dough and added stock and it would not float. This is one of those times when a video would be helpful.
My ball of dough
I gave up and instructed my helper to start drying the corn husks while I assembled the assembly line.
Step 5: Tie it up.
The Verdict: I should have used some kind of seasoned meat. The poached chicken was very bland. I topped my tamales with some salsa. It needed some kind of sauce or spiced up meat. My suggestion is to make a slow cooked pork shoulder and use the left overs for the tamales.
Tamales served with Mexican Rice pilaf (coming tomorrow)