Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tamales - Part 3

This is the final installment of the how-to on making tamales, like I need to tell you fine foodies how-to anything. I've learned so much more from you than I could ever show you. So let's just call it sharing. Foodies are good at sharing. (Unless it's CHOCOLATE, then I get a little stingy!)

Masa Preparation (Hot)
1 1/3 cups lard, whipped until fluffy
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 cups masa flour (corn tortilla flour, not cornmeal)
2 teaspoons salt
2 2/3 cups broth saved after cooking meat

Mix masa, baking powder and salt. Add broth to masa mixture a little at a time to make moist dough. Add masa dough to lard. Beat until it has a spongy texture. Taste-test just a smidgen of the masa for salt content. (A quick test to make sure masa is ready is to drop a small round ball of the masa, about the size of a pea, into a glass of water. If it floats to the top, masa is ready.) This is enough masa for 2 dozen medium to 1 ½ dozen large tamales, or 4 to 5 dozen cocktail (small) tamales. To add a little kick to your tamales, try adding some of the red or green sauce into the masa mixture. This will add flavor if you are looking for something a little spicier.

On the previous post, I suggested a method of preparing “Sweet” Tamales. But check out the link I have listed blow for other exciting recipes.

Tamales Cooking Instructions

Prepare ChileSauce
Prepare Filling
Prepare Husks
Prepare Masa

After patting cornhusks dry, spread 2 tablespoons of masa down center of husk to form a rectangle, 1 inch from the top and 3 inches from the bottom. This should be spread to about 1/8-inch thick*. A cornhusk is usually triangle shape. The top is the straight edge; the bottom is the pointy edge.

Spoon 2 rounded tablespoons filling in center of masa.

To enclose filling, fold husk so that masa edges meet. Wrap plain side of husk around outside of tamale and fold tip. Place seam side down on tray and cover with damp paper towels until all tamales are prepared.

To steam, use a 12 to 14 quart steamer or place a rack inside a 12 to 14 quart pot. Add 1 inch of water to bottom of pot**. Stack tamales loosely in steamer, overlapping edges.

Lay them in a circular fashion leaving an opening (a well) down the center so that steam can circulate and so that you can add more water during the steaming process if needed.

Stack tamales in circular fashion. Stack only enough tamales to leave a 2-inch clearance from the top. Place some spare husks over the prepared tamales and cover the pot with lid. This will keep steam from escaping and will assure adequate circulation.

Heat water to boil; adjust heat to keep water at a steady low boil. Continue to cook, adding boiling water to maintain water level in pot at 1 inch. Cook until masa is firm and does not stick to husk. Open 1 tamal from center of pan to test. Be sure to use tongs to pick up the tamales, they will be extremely hot. Cooking time is approximately 1 hour.

*HINT: If you look closely at the cornhusks, you will see (or feel) that one side of the husk is smoother than the other side, which has ridges. Spread the masa on the smooth side. Tamales will separate much more easily from the husk when cooked.

**HINT: Place a coin at the bottom of pot before stacking tamales. As the water boils, you will hear the coin rattling around. When you stop hearing the coin, it's time to add more boiling water down the "well" or center of the tamal stack to keep the steam going until the tamales are cooked thoroughly.

Rule of Thumb
One pound of masa plus one pound of filling equals one dozen tamales.

If your level of excitement isn’t quite at the boil over stage, check out this one site I found on my quest for the perfect tamal.

This site is filled with various fillings and preparation methods that will have your head spinning. I love that it stimulates your imagination in creating the perfect TAMAL for your family.

[Notice I didn’t spell tamales with an e at the end for a single one. That’s because it doesn’t have one. In Spanish, for one of these delicious delicacies, it is spelled Tamal. For more than one, it is spelled Tamales. That’s where you add the e. Ah, grammar. I need to be careful, Meryl and Arlene are watching and I don’t want to be kept after school!!!]

Love you guys.

Mexican Word of the day: TEXAS
My ruca always Texas (texts) me when I’m not home wondering where I’m at.


Reeni said...

Hi Teresa, Your tamale posts have been fabulous. Thank you for teaching us how to make them and giving us all your little hints and tips. I bet your tamales are out of this world delicious! Your Mexican words of the day always crack me up!Hugs.

Adam said...

Sweet job on the cool hints. I like the coin rattling thing, that makes perfect sense. And thanks for the tamales posts, I think the folding might be the toughest part, but I'm still going to give them a try. Mmmm sweet holiday filling :)

Ivy said...

I remember reading about Tamales at Ben's blog and thanks for giving us all the tips and details. They sound delicious.

So, is it io texo, tu texas ...

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

What an amazing process this is! I bet they are wonderful when you make them!

BanginFood said...

I love Tamales. One day I will get the courage to try and make them myself. It looks so labor intensive. You make it look soo good.

Ramya Vijaykumar said...

Teresa, I dont get your posts via reader not until I subscribe for the posts... You must add the Subscrive via reader gadget after which I will subcsribe and get your posts... I am just addicted to your posts and I dont wanna miss it... :)

Meryl said...

Okay, Tere, your tamales look a heck of a lot more appetizing than mine. I don't know if you saw my failed tamales picture, but I will totally admit that I was calorie pinching, and it just doesn't work when it comes to tamales. Next time, I'll think about this lard version. I've never used lard before, but I bet it makes for a great masa.

Meryl said...

Ha! I have used the word "tamal" in my lessons on how to make words plural.

"All words that end in a consonant go plural with the adition of -es."

Just a quick grammar thingy!