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lovebenton0

Making Tamales

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I have been wanting to make tamales, but I'm a virgin in this territory.

What's your fav recipe?

Pork? Xmas tamales? Beef? I'm craving them all! :wub:

edited to add: Chicken? I wasn't excluding the birds!


Edited by lovebenton0 (log)

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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Oh... Thank you for starting this thread. The only time I did tamales was solo, following Zarela Martinez. I even rendered my own lard. This was an arduous journey and should be shared by many friends in the kitchen. That would be a lot more fun.

I did the corn husk variety as well as the banana leaf variety. They were excellent. Unfortunately I don't have the exact recipes I used since I did rifs off of Zarela's recipes.

I do think that the key to success is the freshly rendered lard.

The other sign of success should be a gathering of friends in the kitchen for good conversation and camaraderie.

After all, tamales are really rather simple as far as ingredients are concerned. It is the art of the participants in putting them together that makes the difference.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Now that I have slept on it...

I actually dreamed of making tamales last night. :blink:

I know that I followed Zarela's advice (Food From My Heart) on the whole process. The adventure started when I ordered a whole fresh ham for Christmas dinner, asked the butcher to trim it to my specifications and save the fat. Little did I know where that would lead. I already had this multi-tiered steamer that I had bought at Hong Kong Market. Here I was, surveying my inventory... steamer=>pork fat=>tamales! Off I go to Fiesta Mart to get the masa, corn husks and banana leaves. I think I remember that I did pork with a Chiapas style ancho paste for the banana leaf wrapped ones. That seemed to fit since the banana leaf wraps become more common the further south you go. Since that took care of the pork, I did a chicken filling for the corn husk wrapped with a primarily "green" seasoning... tomatillos, jalepenos, etc.

About half way through the whole thing, I started to understand why this is such a good amiga opportunity. :laugh:


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I'd to add that using fresh masa ground coarse for tamales and then adding your own fat is another key element, especially compared to the dry masa harina, even if for tamales, or the fresh masa preperado, with the industrial lard already added. I know that many have to use the masa harina if there's no fresh massa available but it another level using the fresh.

I'd also suggest this thread move to Cooking or Mexico unless we're only referring to Texas-style tamales!


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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I basically followed the instructions and recipe on the back of the corn husk package - Fiesta brand. I made the masa from the dry mix and added lard, the chili water, spices and water. I beat the masa in my Kitchen Aid for about 15 minutes, because I like it to be light and the beating makes a big difference. The only thing I'd do differently as far as the meat filling would be that I'd braise the pork instead of roasting it as directed. I think it would be easier to shred. My neighbor made the beef, and I don't know what all she put in. The chicken and pepper/jack I made like this: Roasted a whole chicken and removed it from the bone. Saute a large onion and 3 or 4 cloves of garlic. Chop a couple chipotle chilies and add a little of the sauce. Add 2 t. cumin, and salt and pepper. Combine all and then add 1 pound of pepper-jack cheese, shredded, and about 1/2 a large bunch of cilantro. These were really good.

The whole bag of masa made just enough for 21 dozen tamales, but the whole bag won't fit in the KA bowl (I think mine is 6qt?). I also used 2 sacks of husks, and that was just the right amount for that many tamales. I put them in water to soak aboout 3 hours before starting. Fiesta is my favorite brand. I can't remember the other available here, but Fiestas are cleaner and more uniform in size than the others.


Stop Family Violence

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I'd to add that using fresh masa ground coarse for tamales and then adding your own fat is another key element, especially compared to the dry masa harina, even if for tamales, or the fresh masa preperado, with the industrial lard already added. I know that many have to use the masa harina if there's no fresh massa available but it another level using the fresh.

I'd also suggest this thread move to Cooking or Mexico unless we're only referring to Texas-style tamales!

I would think you are right about the masa and lard being an important difference, speaking only as a tamale eater and still virgin tamale maker. :wink: I have been able to tell the difference myself in taste and texture, knowing where/how the tamales were made.

And hopefully we'll get enough interest here that the Forum hosts :wink: will think it's a good idea to move this thread to Cooking. I started it here since this is where our discussion began . . . and it was after 1:00AM my time on a night I should have been in bed. :blink::rolleyes:

Dana and fifi both -- those tamales sound delicious -- this going to have to be a project! :biggrin: Any and all eG cyber amiga/amigo help and participation is more than welcome. For this virgin needs the tamale temple lights lit upon the way! :laugh:


Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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I definitely intend to have a "tamale party" this Christmas season. I'm a tamale virgin, but I think I can do it up right. The part of town in Nashville where I live is literally a few blocks from "little Mexico" and there are things like corn mills only ten minutes away. I can't wait!! I plan on doing pork and beef.


Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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I can't remember where I heard this, or if it's even correct, but it seems like someone told me once that you have to be careful of the 'wet' masa as it spoils very quickly, and if the grocer doesn't have a very high turnover, you could get some that was rancid. Anybody know if that's true? I used the lard from the shortening shelf at the regular store. I have stored what was leftover in my deep freeze. For next year. Or next week if my son doesn't stay out of those chicken tamales.


Stop Family Violence

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Yes, freshly ground masa can "go off" fairly quickly. But it has nothing to do with the lard. Do not even think of using that stuff on the shelf at the grocery. That lard is vile, hydrogenated, transfats out the kazoo, and tastes like plastic. Use your own or your Mexican butcher's fresh lard. It is all the difference in the world.

RecipeGullet isn't reactivated yet but you can view my method for lard here.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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...

RecipeGullet isn't reactivated yet but you can view my method for lard here.

Also, one can usually get fresh pork fat to make good lard from a regular supermarket even if they don't have it pre-packaged for sale on the shelf. Just ask the meat counter when they trim the pork (usually in the am) and they'll usually be happy to oblige and sell it for a nominal amount. (Just made up a batch for use in my T-day pies).

edited to add: and the extra treat are the cracklings or krammeln you'll get alongside!


Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I am moving this thread from Texas to Cooking due to popular demand.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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So... What are we doing for fillings?

Pork with ancho chile, onion, garlic, allspice, ginger, a la Zarela?

Chicken with the green stuff?

What others?


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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So... What are we doing for fillings?

I like it all but I have to say, if the masa is divine and the lard is just right (for me it's the carnitas drippings from Las Palmas Mexi-catesan in San Francisco), I just like a piece of cheese and a roasted chile.


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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I never really considered rendering my own lard, but next time I will try it. The supermarket stuff had an.....aroma that wasn't very pleasant, but never smelling lard before, I really had nothing to compare it to, and I thought probably all lard smelled like that. Glad to know that's not the case. The finished tamales have none of that smell, and they taste pretty darn good!!!


Stop Family Violence

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I'm getting an error message on the lard link, fifi. How can I get around that?

So... What are we doing for fillings?

Pork with ancho chile, onion, garlic, allspice, ginger, a la Zarela?

Chicken with the green stuff?

What others?

Those sound good for sure, fifi!

I would also like to try the holiday or Xmas tamales. I have had them many times before with the pork, etc. (and the spices you mentioned, fifi), but with the addition of cooked and ground raisins. Is this hitting a memory note with anyone?

The cheese and roasted chili sounds good too, rancho gordo.

Good tips on the fat for lard procurement also everyone, thanks.

We have a big Fiesta Mart in town (Austin) and quite a few Mexican markets. In fact, the other day when I got out with company over the holiday we were looking for the Asian markets that have always been in the section of town where we were -- they're gone! But several Mexican markets have replaced them. And even the local HEB should have most of what I need -- or Central Market (which I can manage to get to on my own on Thursdays). If I can convince mi amiga to tamalada with me we can do the shopping together also, and that gives me more options. Plus her Kitchen Aid and company. :biggrin:


Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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I have been wanting to make tamales, but I'm a virgin in this territory.

What's your fav recipe?

Puerto Rican pasteles. No question.

Recipe?????? I couldn't give you one.

Every year the Friday or Saturday before Thanksgiving I show up at my mother in law's house at 8 am in my pastele making clothes (the achiote oil turns everything orange) and we bang out about 200-250 pasteles.

It starts with 40 -50 pounds of cubed diced pork tenderloin (my job), 2 cases of green bananas that must be peeled and mashed (my job and not an easy one), anyone seeing a pattern here?, Costco sized jars of red peppers, green olives and tomato sauce, tons and tons of sofrito and achiote oil, yards of butcher string, parchment paper and banana leaves and salsa music. Around noon we open the cerveza. By 8 pm we're done and boiling up the first batch. Quality control is important.

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I did tamales for the first time last Christmas, using home-rendered lard, about which I agree with Fifi and everyone else upthread - it's well worth it. My favorite of the several types we tried were Black Tamales, made with mole added to the dough, as well as the filling. They were utterly addictive, and unlike any tamales I'd had before. Making the mole has to be done on a separate day, so it's quite a commitment, but the final product was really luscious.

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For reasons beyond my feeble brain, not everyone can see the old RecipeGullet. I am posting the lard instructions here since good lard is essential to tamales. :biggrin:

gallery_7796_409_1101922345.jpg

Rendering your own lard produces a wonderful product that is not "bad" for you. It is not the same thing at all as that brick of nasty white stuff you see on the grocery shelf. That stuff is hydrogenated, contains a lot of trans fats, and tastes like plastic to me. Fresh lard is a different product altogether. You have to refrigerate it or you can freeze it. It keeps forever that way. Do put it in a glass jar, though, as it can pick up other flavors from the refrigerator or freezer. I keep mine in the refrigerator because it is easier to dip out. I have used the top of the stove method for chicken and duck fat.

2—5 lb White pork fat (ask your butcher)

Chill the fat in the freezer to make it easier to cut. Cut into 1/2 to 1/4 inch cubes. I lean toward the smaller size but it isn't critical. The quantities given above do not matter. I just make whatever I am willing to cut up. For either method use a very heavy pot. I like to use my Le Creuset French oven because the light colored interior makes it easier to see the color develop.

Top of the stove method:

Put 1/2 to 3/4 inch of water in the pot and add the cubed fat. Do not cover. Start on medium to medium low heat. The water will cook off and gets the fat melting a little faster. Stir occasionally throughout the process. Before the bits of fat start to brown, dip off the clear fat. This is a light and mild lard that is good for baking where you don't want pork flavor. Continue to cook until the cubes start to brown. You want to go slow so that the cubes toast evenly. Pour off the amber liquid. This is the product that you want for savory cooking. Don't throw away the bottom dregs of lard and all of the brown bits. This is "asiento". It is used as a savory spread on corn tortillas or bread. This method takes quite a while but doesn't require a lot of attention. Just go slow at first if you want the light stuff for baking. You end up with three products.

Oven method:

This one is really easy. Just put the fat in the pot with the lid on to start and put it in the oven at about 300F or a little lower. Stir occasionally. When it starts to render, take the lid off. Pour off the lard and save the asiento. Again, you want to go kind of slow here so that the cubes toast and don't burn.

For either method, strain out the cracklin's to eat as a guilty treat, add to corn bread, or use as a sprinkle on salads.

The picture shows the three products, white lard, tan lard, asiento, and of course the cracklin's. (Maybe that is four.)


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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is the ratio of 5 lb masa to 1 lb lard about right? does this change when you use freshly rendered lard? i am ready to make the switch, but there are a lot of tamales involved, so i need to have an idea of the level of commitment required. it's exciting!


"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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Good timing on the tamale thread...I just happened to watched the Tamale Episode of Rick Bayless's show that I had DVR'd.

He had an interesting one where he mixed chopped chard into the masa dough & then rolled it up in a dish towel like a torchon of foie gras & then steamed it. It was then sliced up & served with tomatillo salsa.

Another version was made with shredded pork in an ancho chile sauce. He lined a loaf pan with banana leaves. Then he put half the masa dough in the bottom of the pan. Then he spread the pork with some of the sauce in the middle. Then covered that layer with another layer of dough. Folded the banana leaves over, covered w/foil & baked in the oven. When it was done, it was sliced.

I don't recall the exact names of these tamales. Did anyone else see this episode?

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Zarela's recipe calls for 3 pounds fresh masa to 1 pound lard. Bayless seems to use 1/2 cup lard per pound of masa. I'm not sure how that works out. Diana Kennedy uses 4.5 ounces of lard per pound of masa. She says that is half a cup plus 2 tablespoons.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Thanks for the lard instructions, fifii, that sounds easy enough. And it looks so good in the jars. :cool:

I don't why the RG is not connecting for read only either. It asks for a password. :hmmm:

I did tamales for the first time last Christmas, using home-rendered lard, about which I agree with Fifi and everyone else upthread - it's well worth it. My favorite of the several types we tried were Black Tamales, made with mole added to the dough, as well as the filling. They were utterly addictive, and unlike any tamales I'd had before. Making the mole has to be done on a separate day, so it's quite a commitment, but the final product was really luscious.

Oh oh oh! Mole tamales! OMG that sounds good. Two of my fav foods in one! :biggrin: Do you have more details for us, Abra?


Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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Good timing on the tamale thread...I just happened to watched the Tamale Episode of Rick Bayless's show that I had DVR'd.

He had an interesting one where he mixed chopped chard into the masa dough & then rolled it up in a dish towel like a torchon of foie gras & then steamed it. It was then sliced up & served with tomatillo salsa.

Another version was made with shredded pork in an ancho chile sauce. He lined a loaf pan with banana leaves. Then he put half the masa dough in the bottom of the pan. Then he spread the pork with some of the sauce in the middle. Then covered that layer with another layer of dough. Folded the banana leaves over, covered w/foil & baked in the oven. When it was done, it was sliced.

I don't recall the exact names of these tamales. Did anyone else see this episode?

Zarella also has a recipe somewhat like that in her book Veracruz. She calls the dish "Tamal de Cazuela" and surmises that it has Cuban origins. This particular recipe uses a pork and ancho filling between the two layers of masa. Interestingly, instead of banana leaves, the pan is lined and the top covered with oja santa (rootbeer plant).


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Here's the black tamale recipe. Use your favorite mole recipe. I've had this for so many years that I no longer know where it came from, but I promise that it's delectable.

* Exported from MasterCook *

BLACK TAMALES

Recipe By :

Serving Size : 0 Preparation Time :0:00

Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

Masa dough:

6 tablespoons butter -- (3/4 stick) softened, or fresh lard

2 1/4 cups masa harina

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups hot mole sauce

For the filling:

1 cup shredded roast pork -- chicken or mushrooms

1/3 cup chopped pitted prunes

1/3 cup dark raisins

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup chopped -- pitted green olives

1/2 cup mole sauce

In the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle, beat the butter or lard until light and fluffy. Add the masa, baking powder and salt and mix until blended. Add the mole sauce and beat for 2-3 minutes until dough is very smooth. Dough should be soft and light in texture, add more mole or hot water if necessary.

Spread the dough out evenly in a square approximately 1/4-inch thick on soaked corn husks or large squares of banana leaf. Mix filling ingredients together and divide among tamales putting the filling in the center of the dough. Roll up tamales to enclose filling and tie or fold ends over. Steam for 30-40 minutes or until masa is firm and puffed. Serve warm with fresh salsa if desired. Yield: 10-12 tamales

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