Friday, July 30, 2010

Real Homemade Tamales

Tamale Filling:

• 1 1/4 pounds pork loin
• 1 large onion, halved
• 1 clove garlic
• 4 dried California chile pods
• 2 cups water
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Tamale Dough:
• 2 cups masa harina
• 1 (10.5 ounce) can beef broth
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2/3 cup lard
• 1 (8 ounce) package dried corn husks
• 1 cup sour cream

1. Place pork into a Dutch oven with onion and garlic, and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the meat is cooked through, about 2 hours.

2. Use rubber gloves to remove stems and seeds from the chile pods. Place chiles in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, then remove from heat to cool. Transfer the chiles and water to a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture, stir in salt, and set aside. Shred the cooked meat and mix in one cup of the chile sauce.

3. Soak the corn husks in a bowl of warm water. In a large bowl, beat the lard with a tablespoon of the broth until fluffy. Combine the masa harina, baking powder and salt; stir into the lard mixture, adding more broth as necessary to form a spongy dough.

4. Spread the dough out over the corn husks to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Place one tablespoon of the meat filling into the center. Fold the sides of the husks in toward the center and place in a steamer. Steam for 1 hour.

5. Remove tamales from husks and drizzle remaining chile sauce over. Top with sour cream. For a creamy sauce, mix sour cream into the chile sauce.

A few things for the beginner: it's better to boil the peppers(any kind will do) and all the flavorings for 30 or so minutes, and then cook the meat in that broth. Also, the water should cover the meat in the pan and it needs to be cooked until it is crumbly to the touch--this makes it easier and faster to shred by hand and eliminates any further meat preparation. Depending on the meat I use, my cook time varies between 4 hours to overnight. I keep my corn husks in hot/boiling water for at least an hour--they need to be very soft.

Two VIP things to note: masa is very bland, there is no substitute for lard! I use the leftover meat juice instead of broth for my masa, and still add lots of other spices. When you are making tamales the masa will dry out; just add a little meat juice to keep the consistency. It should spread like creamy peanut butter. The corn husks should only measure 4-5 inches across; larger ones can be torn to size. Place the meat filling along the edge and roll like a cigar. Also when steaming them, they need to be as close to standing upright as possible.

If you are going to take the time to make Tamales, you want them to turn out perfectly.

(1.) One of the biggest mistakes, when making the Masa dough, is not mixing long enough; which causes the tamales to fall apart. Mix the Masa dough with an ELECTRIC MIXER, until a small amount (1 tsp) will float in a cup of cool water. (2.) Spread the dough on the bottom 2/3 of the corn husk; placing the filling in a line down the center of the dough. (3.) You should never have to secure your Tamales with a toothpick or strip of corn husk, if folded properly. When folding; fold in one long side, about 1/3 over filling; then fold in the other long side, overlapping the first (this will help to hold the tamales together). Fold down the top 1/3 and place in steamer standing upright, with the folded end down and open end up. Turning your pan on its side will make it easier to stack the Tamales on top of each other. As you lay the Tamales in the pan, on top of each other, this will also help to keep them folded. Don’t over pack the pan, just tightly enough to keep Tamales in an upright position. If you don’t have a Tamale steamer you can use a large pot with cover. Place an inverted cake pan in the bottom of the pot and place an inverted pizza pan over the cake pan. Stand your Tamales (open end up) in the pan; add water, cover, and steam.

It's a lot easier than you would expect.

To simplify the meat preparation I simply used boiled chicken with monterey jack or queso fresco cheese. The chile preparation is also easy. I added a bay leaf and oregano (remove the bay leaf and add one teaspoon of lemon juice before you blend it). Don't expect a great flavor. The chile is meant to be concentrated so it will taste horrible (very woody and grainy). But when it steams with the masa and meat the end product is wonderful. Placing the masa in the husks is a challenge, be patient. Although, I didn't want to, You can use extra husk strips to tie the tamales, if needed until you get the hang of it.

It helps to cover the bottom, sides, and eventually top (once the tamales are in) with extra corn husks. This keeps the tamales dry as you add extra water during the steaming process. It also helps with clean up later. You can also put a coin at the bottom of the steamer (when the coin stops clanking, you know that your near the end of water and need to refill it).

The chili's used here are very mild, so I use cascabel peppers. I always use 2 pork tenderloins to make mine. I poured all the chili sauce on the shredded meat, added about 1/2 tsp each of ground ancho chili powder and ground chipotle chili powder since it adds a smoked taste. Then let in stand for several hours before I made it into tamales. This is easier done the day ahead. I also add some ground ancho chili about 1/2 tsp. and 1/4 tsp ground chipotle chili to the masa. I use Maseca brand instant corn masa flour. I use almost all the broth and make the masa the consistency of thick cake frosting. I do have to make double the masa to use all my filling though. I don't measure the filling out, I just take some with my fingers and lay out a strip of filling down the center. It gives me 4 dozen tamales.

They get spicier after reheating.

Depending on if I'm making beef or chicken,I use chicken or beef powdered bullion for the dough,I also mix dried parsley,onion powder and garlic powder, and a touch of cumin -oh and some powdered ancho pepper.

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