The tamale tradition lives on for my small group of running friends. I call them the running girls because that is essentially how we all met... some 10 years ago. And today we still are running and talking and generally solving all the worlds problems. The best part is we usually end our runs with a little "ode to us". We build each other up, give encouragement, some advise but mostly a big hoorah hoorah for us.
So here we are year 02 of our wonderful tamale making tradition and again we sat, talked, laughed, advised and praised. We called Delfina - the author of this recipe and Renne's mother - to check on a few ingredients ... and her lovely advise to us was, " you girls must tell good stories so your tameles will be good." Needless to say I think they should be pretty darn good.
So here goes my feeble attempt to give you the path to this process. The tamales will be awesome but what I will always remember is the time and tradition spent together... thank you Renee for organizing and sharing this with us. Girls you are the best!
tamales by delfina carrizales
step 1 : soak the corn husks : 24 to 48 hours prior to assembly ( we think 48 is better) : soak in water making sure you separate the leaves. before assembly drain and pat dry.
step 2 : prepare the chili paste : 1 day prior to assembly : (Double this recipe you will need more paste for the masa and to season your meat!)
in a sauce pan place 4 - 6 ancho chilies (per lb of meat I used 12 - 14) and cover with water and boil. Remove the chilies and reserve the liquid. If you are able peel and seed the chilies. (I buy dried chilies and sometimes it is hard to peel. I just put the whole chili skin and all in). Sautee 1 or 2 onions. Place chilies, onions and handful of garlic, salt and pepper into a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the liquid from the boiling to the paste as needed (1/2 - 1 cup).
step 3 : cooking the meat : 1 day prior to assembly : I use a crockpot and it worked fine. You will be cooking these roasts for a long time 6 hours or so. 3lbs pork shoulder and 3lbs beef rump roast. Place them in the pot with a cup or so of the paste, more garlic, cumin, salt and pepper (you might want to add 1 cup of water or liquid from the chili boiling). Delfina says to use our color sense. "it should be a deep red color and the meat should be red and tasty." Once the meat is done adjust the seasoning. " you might need to add something. your meat must taste the way you want your tamale to taste." - (this amount of meat will give you around 3-4 doz tamales, but remember they go fast! Leftovers are great for tacos too!)
step 4 : Shred the meat : I like to skim the fat first then drain your meat reserving the liquid. Shred your meat and mix the beef and pork together and season. I like my meat with a little more fire. I added l little vinegar and some more seasoning. Cayenne pepper and chili paste, a little more cumin and salt. I think you could add in jalapenos or roasted poblanos if you wanted to here.
In Renee's family everyone would gather around the table and they would make an assembly line. You had certain aunts that were the pros at making the masa, others who spread, grandma who was the expert roller and the kids were charged with loading the pot. Everyone with a job telling stories, laughing, making wonderful food. Of course they taste good with that much love and time going into them. To me this is what cooking is all about!
step 5 : make the masa : you will need about 1 lb per doz or per lb of meat. So about 5lbs or so for this recipe. You can find this made at the mexican markets in your area. You can mix it your self but it is a bunch of work.
You will need a large area to make the masa. This is rather messy. We used a disposable table cloth on a dinning room table. You will need your masa, lard or crisco, salt a little sugar, the chili paste and some of the liquid from the meat.
Make a mountain of the masa on the table with a hole punched in the top. Add your salt, sugar and a handful of lard, some liquid from the meat and a heap of the chili paste. You will knead this into the dough for quite some time (a good arm workout). The dough should turn a nice light orange/red color. Taste the masa to make sure it taste right and add more of what you need. We also added in some garlic powder and some cumin. The consistency should be smooth and spreadable and have a shine to it.
step 6 : rolling the tamales : Your corn husks should be soft and ready to roll. Spread the masa on the corm leaves about half the way up. Start at the large end of the leave and spread toward the point. You will leave a little room for rolling. Place a table spoon or two of the meat in the middle and roll the tamale. Fold the pointed end that doesn't have masa on it up.
step 7 : cooking the tamales : you will need a large steamer with a lid. Place the tamales in a large steamer the openings up and in rows. Be sure no water touches the tamales. Steam the tamales until the masa is done.
A want to extend a very special thank you to Delfina. Thank you for sharing
this wonderful recipe and tradition with us.
I hope one day we all may sit around the table and share good
stories and make great tamales!