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FauxPas

Cooking and Dining at the Amerind Museum in AZ

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I recently discovered the Amerind Museum. Despite spending a considerable amount of time in the Tucson area over the last ten years, I had never been to this interesting museum in Dragoon, AZ, about an hour's drive SE. But about a month ago, I caught sight of a description of some of their cooking classes and after a brief phone call, I bought a membership and signed up for one of the classes. 

 

The class description:

 

Amerind’s Annual Holiday Tamale Class 
December 16 and 17, 2017


This year we will prepare delicate Oaxacan Tamales de Cambray and a sweet coconut milk and raisin tamale, both steamed in banana leaves. Also New Mexico Pueblo blue corn lamb tamales and our favorite classic green corn tamale pie served with fresh pineapple salsa will be served.

Class Menu:
Tamales de Cambray: A delicate tamale from the Juchitan region, in the southern part of Oaxaca. A combination of shredded pork and flank steak and chicken is mixed with, plantain, raisins, olives, green chile, and spices, all steamed in a banana leaf or corn husk.

 

Blue corn lamb tamales: Small chunks of lamb, chile, and spices fill blue corn meal masa steamed in corn husk.
 

Our favorite Green corn tamale pie: Fresh sweet corn, green chile and cheese baked to perfection and served with fresh pineapple salsa.
 

Tamales de Dulce: Fresh masa mixed with coconut milk, sugar, and cinnamon with a golden raisin filling steamed in a banana leaf.

 

 

I've since discovered that the Amerind is a museum, an archaeological research center and an art gallery. But they also offer cooking classes! 

 

A friend and I set out on an unusually rainy morning and arrived at Dragoon and Texas Canyon mid-morning. It was a bit wet and cold and I took few pictures outside, but you can see some photos at the museum's web site and read more about how the ranch evolved, its buildings and architecture, etc. 

 

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And here is one side of the kitchen (freezer and sinks/dishwasher on the other side) and butler's pantry and then the dining room, all part of the original ranch residence. I wish I had included the walk-in pantry. 

 

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Next: We make some tamales! 


Edited by FauxPas (log)
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First up is the Tamales de Cambray, which we decide to do in banana leaves. 

 

Because of the limited class time (about four hours), our instructor (Chef Debbie) and her assistants have done some prep for us. But we peel the roasted chilies and tomatoes and slice and dice them. The chilies are pureed with some garlic. 

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A mix of tomatoes, onions, garlic, raisins, capers, chopped green olives, plantains and spices (guajillo chile powder, thyme, marjoram) is heated on the stovetop. 

 

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Three kinds of meat have been pre-cooked for us (flank steak, pork, chicken). We prep the banana leaves by trimming the vein, wiping them down, cutting into 12 inch squares and briefly running them over the gas burners' flame. Smaller pieces are peeled into narrow strips for ties. The saucepan contents and chilies are added to the meat mix. 

 

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At the same time, the masa mix is in the blender. Masa, water, lard, some broth from the cooked meat and some additional stock, plus salt. 

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And a bottle of rum is passed around. 

 

Ha, just kidding! Though we were all working pretty hard and felt deserving.  xD

 

The rum was added to some raisins, which were left to soak for our dessert tamales. 

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Edited by FauxPas (log)
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that's pretty cool. My husband and I have vacationed in Tucson twice, will keep this in mind next time we return. It seems we wind up there every 5 years so I'm feeling that we are due soon...

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Next, the fun part - filling, wrapping and tying the tamales. 

 

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Spread some masa in the centre of the banana leaf, add a spoonful of meat mixture, fold up in a packet and tie. They are so cute! 

 

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These go into a big steamer on the stovetop for 1 to 1.25 hrs. 

 

Next up is a blue corn tamale with lamb and green chile. These are wrapped in corn husks, which have been soaking in hot water. 

 

I couldn't take pictures of all the following steps, because I was too busy chopping, wrapping or stirring. :)

 

Lamb cubes were sauteed with green chile powder, salt and cumin. Some broth was added and all was simmered. More roasted green chiles were cut into strips. The blue corn masa was spread on the corn husk, followed by some lamb cubes and a couple of strips of chile, and more wrapping, but with a simple fold and no tie. 

 

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Into another steamer for 45 mins to 1 hour. 

 

We make a third tamale, also in corn husk. This is the dessert tamale and the masa mix includes sugar, coconut milk and coconut cream, baking powder, cinnamon and melted butter. Again, we spread some mix on the corn husks and add the rum-soaked raisins, then wrap and tie at each end. 

 

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Edited by FauxPas (log)
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Once the dessert tamales were in their steamer (about 1 hour), we went to work on a Green Corn Tamale Pie with Fresh Pineapple Salsa. 

 

The salsa was very good, with some diced fresh pineapple and chopped cilantro, red onion, jalapenos. A few tablespoons of lime juice, S & P if desired and mixed together. These jalapenos were quite hot, but no one minded. 

 

This salsa tasted so much better than it looks in these photos!!! Sorry about the crappy quality, the colours are really off. 

 

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The tamale pie consists of a masa mix with sweet corn kernels, milk, lots of shredded cheddar cheese and roasted, diced green chiles (preferably medium to hot). This is spread in a baking dish and is then topped with even more shredded cheese, this time a Monterey Jack. 

 

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And finally we test a tamale to see if it's done. Yes, the banana leaf is peeling off easily, it's time to eat! 

 

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I guess I was too hungry to get pics of the final tamale pie and dessert tamales! Sorry. And again, my cell phone didn't take the best pictures. 

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Edited by FauxPas (log)
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And a few pics of the museum store. They don't want people to take detailed photos of the actual items in the store or the museum exhibit area, so this is just the entrance way area of the store. It's a pretty building. 

 

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57 minutes ago, BeeZee said:

that's pretty cool. My husband and I have vacationed in Tucson twice, will keep this in mind next time we return. It seems we wind up there every 5 years so I'm feeling that we are due soon...

 

I think it's well worth a visit. Texas Canyon is a pretty area, the museum is interesting and some of their events are fun. I need to go back to see the museum exhibits and the gallery. And I would go back for another cooking class! Debbie was in Italy recently and will do an Italian meal for her next class, so they aren't all southwestern or Mexican. 

 

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That sounds like such a fun and interesting experience to me. I would loved to have gone with you! I love Mexican and Southwestern food.

 

One question about the nice board in your second photo under the faucet on the wall. It seems to be a clever way to make more counter space over a sink. Who doesn't need more counter space? That board looks pretty heavy, though, and a sink is critical to kitchen function too. Did you see this in use, and how did that work out?

 

7 hours ago, FauxPas said:

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9 hours ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

One question about the nice board in your second photo under the faucet on the wall. It seems to be a clever way to make more counter space over a sink. Who doesn't need more counter space? That board looks pretty heavy, though, and a sink is critical to kitchen function too. Did you see this in use, and how did that work out?

 

I didn't see it in use! It reminds me of those RV cutting boards that just fit over the top of the sink. We had a big double sink in the kitchen and another by the pantry, so we really didn't need this one. But as far as I know, that sink in the butler's pantry does work and is just covered to increase the counter space. :)

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