Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Homemade Tamales

Suddenly it's December. Now it's time to make the tamales for Christmas. Yes, officially it's Navidad time in the Southwestern USA and I am in a very Arizona boarder town. So every market and grocery store has case lots of Masa mix and wheelbarrows brimming with Corn Husks for Tamales by El Guapo - Hojas para Tamal . Bags and bags of dried chile, pasilla-ancho-o-heaven in billowing piles of joy. Yes. It's tamale time my lovelies. It is also Tuesday. So we're having our weekly tutorial (and I do try to make it every week, though sometimes mommy stuff gets in the way). If you don't happen to live in the Southwest and have these items on hand, I know there are a lot of online places to order these things. Maseca Corn Masa Flour for Tamales is what I use most often. I like how it turns out...and here it's not nearly as expensive as online. Right around 3$ for the 4.4lb bag. That makes a freakin' huge amount of tamales too. The recipe on the bag is a good starter.
EASY STEPS TO MAKE TAMALES RECIPE which is really similar to what I use for my turkey tamales. The best way to have left over turkey I have ever encountered is nestled in a warm tamale with some savory herbs and spices. Dear land. Here we go. Oh...you will need either a tamale steamer or a large pot with a steam insert and a tight fitting lid. I happen to have one I use for vegetables that also works for tamales. If you don't have one, the Aluminum Tamale Steamer is available on line. Get this...I don't even work for Maseca. So there's the free add for them.

For my tamale dough:
2 cups of Maseca for tamales
2 cups lukewarm broth
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup organic vegetable shortening (spectrum brand)
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 T lime juice

Turkey Tamales
1 lb lean cooked turkey, shredded
1 1/2 ounce pasilla-ancho, ground
1 tsp each whole: cumin seed, coriander seed, black peppercorn
2 tsp minced garlic
2T lime juice
2T olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
16 dry corn husks
2 1/2 lb prepared masa (tamale dough above)

First, I cover then corn husks in hot water. Then I start grinding the whole spices. If you don't have a coffee grinder or spice grinder, you can used the preground spices. They won't have as fresh a flavor, but they will work. Ironically, this coffee grinder I have has never once been used for coffee...only spices. It is also the same one I use for my Chef Tess Fajita Seasoning, if I can add a shameless plug for my spice blend. It's really crazy good.
Whirl them once or twice and then add the Pasilla - Ancho Dried Chile Peppers. Also available on most online sources. Again, this is the kind I prefer. It has a bit of smokiness to it and I love that. Remove the stems and most of the seeds. I don't make my tamales super hot...but the more seeds you keep, the hotter the tamale.
The smell is most amazing! I promise.
Combine the fresh ground spices,garlic, lime juice, oil and salt. Marinate covered in the fridge while you make the masa dough.

Masa dough is cool.
Combine Maseca, baking powder, garlic powder, salt, coriander and cumin in a bowl. Add the broth, lime juice and shortening, beating vigorously.
It should be spongy. Not soupy. Sponge masa square pants...oye! Yikes.
Take out the corn husks from the water, lay flat. Put about 1/2 cup masa dough in the middle of the corn husk and spread it out in a 2 inch circle.

Put a tablespoon of the seasoned turkey in. Do the hokey poky.
Random vegetarian note:
If you don't want to use meat, you can use corn with green chiles. 1 lb corn, 1/2 cup green chiles, 1/2 cup onion...and the same seasoning as above. You will also need cheese if you eat it. about 6 ounces of sharp cheddar.

See, I didn't forget the vegetarians. Ace was so happy.

Now you need to roll up the corn husk, being careful to keep the masa dough surrounding the meat or cheese. One roll, then fold the bottom "pointed end" of the corn husk toward the middle of the tamale.
Hold the fold down with your thumb and roll again.

The rolled corn husk will cover the fold.
Lay flat, roll side down.
I like to bundle the open end and tie it with a strip of corn husk. Husk can be torn when wet. Who knew? At any rate, I bunch...then tie tight. Some people fold them over and tie the whole thing. Some people don't tie them at all. Do what you want. I think they cook better when they are a little contained.

Nestle them in the steamer and cover with a clean wet wash cloth. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Heat is low, but water is boiling. Approximately 1 hour. I always stick to one hour at least.
1 hour. I know you can't even wait...but you'll have to. Time warp on my blog goes really quickly anyway. Woooosh. See?

So this is the moment of truth. Is it a good tamale...or not?
Moist, savory, spicy, full of well rounded flavor, and all for me (especially the "all for me" part). Yup. That's a good tamale right there folks. (click on that picture... go on.)
I will now break forth into singing like Julie Andrews, "...Brown paper packages tied up with string..." Laaa laaa laaa laa...
Feel honored you got to hear that (or not). Brown paper packages...or something similar.

There you go. Savory tamales. Oooo la la.


Unknown said...

ok.. I had dissected my turkey and put the leftover in the freezer,
did what my grandson calls "boil tom"
"gramee did you boil tom?"

..today turkey soup with my broth from tom.
tomorrow Tamales! my mouth is so ready!

I am so glad I have turkey leftover..
I do have about 3 pork roasts in the freezer if worst came to worst.!

I was also going to add, My Buttermilk Pie recipe is just the same as your tart,
mine is just put in a pie shell..

Chef Tess said...

Go Linda! I love it! I thought we may have the same buttermilk pie recipe...it's an old Mormon one you know. Love you!

Goob said...

those are simply beautiful. So Christmas-y!

Ella said...

I came here to look for a ranch dressing recipe and found this!!! I'm thawing a turkey right now and wasn't exactly sure what to do with all the meat once it is cooked. Now I know. :) I don't use shortening. Is there another oil that would work for the masa? Thanks!

Ella said...

I came here to look for a ranch dressing recipe and found this!!! I'm thawing a turkey right now and wasn't exactly sure what to do with all the meat once it is cooked. Now I know. :) I don't use shortening. Is there another oil that would work for the masa? Thanks!

Chef Tess said...

Ella, I use a shortening made by spectrum. It's trans fat free,cold pressed organic and works perfectly for tamales. I've also gotten away with doing them with coconut oil, but more often for dessert tamales.

sherrie lynn said...

Tamales are my absolute FAVORITE thing in the whole world! in fact, I sometimes (ok, USUALLY) dont like to share them because it means less for me...... (horrible thing to admit!!!) Anyways, my family makes very large batches, and freeze them!! They go from freezer to steamer instantly, and take only about 45 min to steam to perfection!
This used to be a 2 day project, but we have mastered it out to pre-cooking our meat, and only spending about 3-4 hrs, for about 8-dozen...
When the weather cools down a bit, I would love to share our recipe with you, complete with project pictures!
would this be okay?

Chef Tess said...

I love you Sherrie! YES I'd love to share your recipe/pictures! It sounds like we're kindred tamale freaks! Xoxo! LOVE that idea!!

Rachel said...

I love your version of Tamales. Great job!

syndie said...

Hi, if you wanted to use pork roast, would you use the same spices? Thank you for your recipe!