Friday, August 11, 2006

Lezione di tamales

I have been wanting to publish this post for a long time, but I never had time. Tonight I'm taking a night off from writing the proposal that I have to write by next Friday.. but I think I really don't feel like working now!

So, about two weeks ago, Luisa and Jorge invited us to go to their place, so Luisa could teach me how to make tamales! She said they're usually a winter food, but we thought it would be nice to make them together whatever season it was :) - so, we made some tamales with meat and some sweet ones with pineapple.
To make them, you need to have some flour that is specifically prepared from corn for tamales (Maseca for Tamales). Supposedly you could make it yourself, like real cooks do, but it's much easier to buy it premade, and apparently, Mexicans do that too :) For the sweet tamales, mix 2 cups of flour with 2 cups of pineapple juice, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of vegetable shortening or butter and 1 tsp of salt. You then fluff the dough up in the mixer for a few minutes.
To make the meat filled ones, you need to prepare the pork in advance: boil two pounds of pork chops in 2 liters of water for one hour, with some salt, half an onion and 1 clove of garlic. Remove the meat, let it cool down and shred it. Then you need to prepare the salsa: boil 4 huajillo peppers and 4 ancho peppers, just to make them soft. Remove the veins and the seeds. Process them together with 2 garlic cloves, 8-10 peppercorns, 1 clove and 1 small piece of cinnamon in the food processors.
You can see all the spices together here:
. In a pan, melt 2 cups of pork lard, add the minced peppers and spices, the meat, 2 cups of pork broth and let it simmer for a while. The let it cool down and the meat will separate from the fat. Mix 1 cup of this fat with 4 cups of maseca flour and 1 tsp of salt.
To make the tamales, you need to take corn husks for the sweet ones, and banana-like tree leaves for the meat ones. These leaves are humongous! You can see a part of one of them hold by the tamales Master, Luisa :)
And Luisa told me that many people grow these trees in their gardens just to take the leaves to make tamales :) So, once you have the doughs ready, you can spread the sweet ones making small circles in the corn husks, then put some pieces of pineapple on them and them close and seal the husks. To make the meat ones, you put the dough on the banana-like leaf, then you add some of the meat, and then you seal the leaf. This is how it looks like before sealing:
The tamales are steamed for about 1 hour in a special steamer pan:
And finally they are ready to eat, after taking them out from their nice wraps:
Definitely not a 'diet' food, but so nice to see and full of flavor! Moreover, they keep for about one week in the fridge. In fact, as a curious note: Luisa explained to me that the Tamales were once made during the Holy Week (Eastertime), because people were so busy going to church every day that they didn't have time to prepare their food!!!

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