21 February 2011

Hot Tamales

Whoops, welcome back, semi-faithful readers.  Today's will be a winner, I promise.  Clear your calendars, because we're in for a Tamale Weekend!

For a pictureless recipe, click here (I got my recipe from my Taste of Home magazine).  For a confusing but illustrated recipe, continue reading.

Step 1.  Seriously, clear your schedule.  These are time consuming like no other, so we're going to make a TON of tamales to make it worth our time.

Step 2.  Start soaking your cornhusks - I probably used about 40-50 by the time I was done.  I had to weigh them down with bowls to keep them submerged.  This is also where I set the timer for two hours.
Step 3.  Start cooking the meat (in water, if you want to use the water for broth later - you'll need 6 cups later in the recipe).  Every other recipe I read has the meat cooking for about four hours.  Besides, if you start cooking it now, then you can sit and relax.  Or, as I did, run to the store to pick up more ingredients because I suddenly decided I wanted peppers and onion in this too. 

Step 4.  Simmer the meat forever!  I used:
      3 lbs ground beef
      a couple cloves of garlic
      1/2 an onion
      1 green pepper
      2 serrano peppers
I think I simmered the meat for about 45 minutes, then pour off the broth to save for the masa and other things.

Step 5.   Make the dough.  Combine 1 cup of shortening with 2 cups of broth and 3 cups of masa harina (corn flour - NOT corn meal).  Stir stir stir!  The recipe says it is supposed to be so light and fluffy that it floats in a cup of water.  Mine never floated.  It tried really hard though, so I still gave it a passing grade, mostly because I could no longer feel my arms.  The picture refuses to rotate the correct way.

Step 6.  Heat up 6 tbs of cooking oil, add 6 tbs of flour and cook until the flour is browned.  Add to that 3/4 cup chili powder, and, to taste, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Add the meat and 4 cups of broth.  Simmer for another 45 minutes.
 Step 7.  If you've been efficient, the husks should have been soaking for two hours by now.  I was inefficient, but extra soaking time isn't a bad thing.  At this point, kick everyone out of the house, because the good smells have permeated every corner and everyone is leaving a trail of drool wherever they go.

Step 8.  Time for the fun part.  Take a corn husk, pat it dry.  My lovely assistant will demonstrate how to spread the masa (the thinner the better) on the husk and add filling.  Try to leave an inch or more at the top and bottom of the husk - aka the pointy end and the wide end, respectively.  Add a couple spoonfuls of meat filling.

Step 9.  Fold in both the sides of the husk, and then fold the bottom and top.  Grab a piece of string (preferably the kind that won't melt) and tie it up.

Step 10.  Continue this for about another hour, until you have a steamer basket full.  Add an inch of water to the bottom of your steamer (in my case, pressure cooker).  Then steam those buddies for 45-50 minutes, until the masa dough peels away from the husk.
They are such cute little packages!  Since I made a ton, I had a couple freezer bags full of them to freeze for an easy treat later.  And since I'd basically been eating spoonfuls of meat the whole time, I wasn't really hungry when my tamales were finished, but I HAD to try a couple.  So crack open a cheap Mexican beer and dig in!
Delicious.  And since something either went horribly wrong or horribly right, I also had enough meat left over to make some delicious enchiladas as well :)