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Making Tamales


lovebenton0
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I'm very proud of the recipe that Robb and I developed for his The Tex-Mex Cookbook, using Maseca instead of fresh masa (I was concerned about access to fresh masa in other places).

What I would like to talk about today is the pork stuffing and my most recent work on this recipe.  I place a 5 lb pork loin roast (bought when on special at Randall's for $1 a pound) in a crock pot with water to cover, two teaspoons of Kosher salt, one teaspoon of garlic powder, two ancho chile pods with seeds removed, and one diced onion, the size of a hardball.  Cooked at low temperature overnight. The broth is reserved for use with the masa. A cup or so of broth, the anchos, and onions are run through the blender to make a puree.  The pork is shredded and the puree is added.  The meat is tasted and salt is added to adjust the taste.

Now, the important step.  How hot to make the hot tamales?  Add cayenne pepper and black pepper starting with a teaspoon each, and add more until the right amount of fire is achieved. I tend to make mine very hot, just because I am tired of bland tamales.

These tamales go well with the Texas Chili Gravy recipe in Robb's book.

Thanks, Jay. I really appreciate you posting your pork filling recipe. Hot tamales! :shock: Yes! :biggrin:

I have made the Carne con Chile recipe for enchiladas before and Robb recommended it for tamales as well -- if that's the one you are referring to . . . Very good.

May I impose on you to ask you about the masa recipe also?

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 love to make tamales at Christmas, a new and already beloved tradition in our family. Our favorites are black tamales, which have mole in the masa dough, and a rich pork and fruit and mole filling. It's a very lengthy process, starting with rendering the lard, then making the mole, then making the tamales. It's about a 3 day effort, and you need help.

I rendered the lard a few days ago, and since fifi has already documented that process so well, I didn't take any pictures of that. Today I made the mole. This is the most complicated mole, and the very best, that I've ever encountered. It's died-and-gone-to-gastronomic-heaven mole. Here's how I did it.

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I started by quickly frying the chiles in lard, then simmering them in chicken broth.

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When the chiles were tender I pureed them in the food processor and fried the resulting puree in more lard. Next I fried the seeds and nuts in lard - there's almonds, pecans, pepitas, sesame seeds, and peanuts. When the nuts are fried they get pureed with chicken broth.

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For a change, these tomatillos are frying in a light olive oil. Lard is wonderful, but enough is enough. Actually, I'm doing several things at once here - frying the tomatillos, and adding a puree of the fried seed/nut/chicken broth mixture into the mole sauce.

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On another burner I fried plantain slices in oil, then drained them. Wouldn't want to have too much oil in this mole, along with the lard.

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I added Roma tomatoes to the frying tomatillos.

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The plantains and raisins are added to the tomatillos and tomatoes. This is the least-appetizing step to the whole process.

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Next I puree the goopy-looking stuff, and run it through the food mill to smooth it out, while the mole continues reducing in the background.

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Since I don't have a comal, I char the onions and garlic in a dry cast iron skillet.

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Now I grind the spices - canela. toasted cloves, Mexican oregano, anise, peppercorns, allspice, and thyme. They get pureed in the food processor with the onions, garlic, and chicken broth, and added to the mole.

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White bread and corn tortillas get a little oil-crisping, then they too get pureed with chicken broth and added to the pot..

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Now I get set to chop the piloncillo and Mexican chocolate. This is quite hard work, as the piloncillo is really hard. I have a nice little glass of Punt e Mes, though, to help it along.

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Once the piloncillo and chocolate have melted in and simmered, the mole is done. I make it very thick, and then thin it if needed as I use it, that way I can get more into the pot. Once you get going on this project, it only makes sense to make a ton.

Tomorrow I'll have 4 helpers for the tamale-making. Besides the black tamales we'll have a vegetarian corn/Cotija/poblano version. In the meantime, time to clean up the kitchen!

Edited by Abra (log)
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Absolutely beautiful, Abra! Thanks for posting this photo essay of your tamalada progress. Your mole is making me drool. :wub:

I just knew eG'ers would do a better a photo essay. :wink::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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Abra,

Thank you for sharing your process with us,it looks extremely delicious,Any chance you could put this in recipe form?I would love to try a mole,perhaps after the holidays?looking forward to the rest of your tamalada

Dave s

"Food is our common ground,a universal experience"

James Beard

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This is the recipe I'm using, Awesome Mole recipe. I make the mole exactly as written, skipping all the parts about the turkey, except that I use the food processor instead of the blender, and the food mill if I think it needs smoothing. It's way too much volume and fiber for my blender. We had some for dinner tonight, with leftover chicken in it, a pile of sauteed greens, and tortillas. Sometimes life is so sweet.

Incidentally, that big Dutch oven that you see brimming over in the pictures, that's with a doubled recipe. And I can practically never find mulato chiles, so I usually substitute guajillos.

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Thanks, Abra. You were very busy! Looking forward to trying this -- I love mole!

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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Really interesting, Abra!!! I recently attented a class at Central Market in Houston taught be Susana Trilling, and I realized that there is so much to learn about Mexican food - esp. moles. She demonstrated a mole amarillo with pork and oyster mushrooms that was divine. She said that it also could be made with chicken, so I'm planning to try it next week. One thing I was surprised to hear (and it shows my ignorance of moles) was that only 2 of the 7 contain chocolate, while the rest do not. (she was talking about Oaxacan moles). The one I had eaten at our local Tex/Mex place must have been the Mole Negro, as you've demonstrated here. While I enjoyed it, I much prefered the one Susana made without the 'sweet' spices.

Can't wait to see your next installment.

Stop Family Violence

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Before I went to bed last night I threw a bunch of pork into the crockpot. This morning it looked like this.

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I shredded the pork, then mixed it with prunes, raisins, green olives, and toasted pine nuts.

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Then I mixed the mole into all of this yumminess.

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For the vegetarian filling, I charred poblano peppers under the broiler.

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I chopped up the poblanos and mixed them with corn, Cotija cheese, toasted pine nuts, and salsa verde.

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My fridge is several layers deep in prep containers by this point.

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Making the vegetarian masa - thank heavens for Kitchen Aid!

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Vegetarian masa, and the mole masa. Ok, now we're ready to rock and roll, at last! A short hiatus for opening presents with our sons, who won't be with us on actual Christmas...

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We set up an assembly line, which is traditional.

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The first person lays out the soaked corn husks. We use two, butt to butt, which is definitely non-traditional, but much easier to roll.

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The second person pats out the masa on the corn husks.

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The third person adds the filling and rolls up the tamale.

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The fourth person ties the tamale into a neat bundle.

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The fifth person, me, generally gets in the way, supervises, helps out, and stacks the tamales in the steamer. Right, a dumpling steamer. Hey, it's all I've got, and it works.

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Oh hurray, dinner at last! You definitely can't be in a hurry when you want a tamale. But because they're such a hassle to make, and a rare event, you are required to eat as many as possible. And we did.

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Riley isn't allowed to have tamales because pork doesn't agree with him, but he does get a cookie as big as his head, so he can't complain.

Edited by Abra (log)
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Dinner looks delicious. What type of salad did you serve with the tamales?

And Riley is absolutely adorable!! Looks like he did pretty well for himself. :biggrin:

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Mmm, let's see. The salad was picked-today farm greens, Cotija cheese, a bunch of rosemary-roasted nuts that were an afternoon nibble, some sunchoke slices, and a salsa vinaigrette. It was, in fact, delicious.

Riley is adorable, even when, as now, he desperately needs a bath.

Edited by Abra (log)
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Wow! What an utterly inspired and inspiring thread! You have given me a wonderful subject to daydream about. :blush: The 'tamales' I've made to this point are simply not up to snuff. This is really exciting! That mole masa is just the most amazing edible foodstuff I have seen in ages. Thank you sooo much for jump-starting my culinary senses. :rolleyes:

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The great thing about having made such a huge batch is that now there's extra mole to dip the mole tamales into. I never really thought of tamales as a dipping food, but it's irresistably yummy.

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I was kind of wondering why more of you tamalada folks weren't posting on my Tamale-Making Photo Essay Thread, and then I realized, doh! I put it in the General Food forum, not here, where it would have made a lot more sense. What can I say, I guess I just have tamales for brains this week!

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A specific dessert tamal I remember in AZ every year was sweetened bean with a raisin in each one. I did not like them, as I always wanted green corn with green chile and cheese. But you had to eat one before going to church on Christmas Eve. Boy howdy, does that bring back memories---Feliz Navidad, Sra Cano and family!

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I used to be able to buy delicious dessert tamales with pineapple and coconut. Anybody have a recipe for those?

edited to add: this thread has moved around a lot and been merged, so it's a bit confusing. I invite you to scroll up instead of down, for a change, and see my photo essay on my tamale-making weekend. It's in two parts - making the mole, then making the tamales themselves.

Edited by Abra (log)
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I was kind of wondering why more of you tamalada folks weren't posting on my Tamale-Making Photo Essay Thread, and then I realized, doh!  I put it in the General Food forum, not here, where it would have made a lot more sense.  What can I say, I guess I just have tamales for brains this week!

Great project, fantastic pictures and -- une cuisinière grandiose -- I remember excellent recipes posted in cooks.

Happy holidays Heinz

H.B. aka "Legourmet"

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Heinz - wilkommen zur eGullet! You're going to love it here. As soon as you start posting your fantastic competitive recipes you're going to find a whole community of like-minded people here. It's great to see you!

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Incredible, Abra! Thank you for taking the time to post the final phase. :cool:

I'm glad we got this thread all together. My thanks to whoever wrangled that around. :biggrin:

Tamale making at home for me tomorrow! Just a relative few (dozen), as my friend, her 13 yr old son (my godson), and I will be having a real, full force tamalada the week after Christmas. I know, not traditional holiday timing . . . But I will be glad for the help and we'll eat tamales anytime! :rolleyes:

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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