Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's Tamale Time!....

I'll be the first to say I used to hate, I mean hate, tamales. It seems everytime I would attempt to eat one at a mexican restaurant, it was so dry, you would need to have a gallon of water just to get it down. Yuk!

Well, I have seen the face of hot tamale perfection and her name is Nicole "Farmer N" Tyson. Dang. Again, I'll say dang. It was good. If I knew that was what a hot tamale was suppose to taste like, I would of begged her years ago to make them.

I'm going to add the recipe(with the few modifications) , thanks to Alton Brown, so you can try it. Warning it is spicy and there is a long prep time, but it is so worth it.

Hot Pork Tamales
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2009
Prep Time:
1 hr 0 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
4 hr 0 min
2 dozen tamales
For the meat filling:
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly toasted and ground cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Aapproximately 2 1/4 pounds of Boston Pork Butt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano chile, seeded and finely minced
For the wrappers:
2 dozen dried corn husks

For the dough:
15 ounces masa harina, approximately 3 1/2 cups
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
4 ounces lard, approximately 1/2 cup
2 to 4 cups reserved cooking liquid

For the meat filling:
Place chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt, black pepper and pork butt into a 6-quart pot and add enough water to completely cover the meat, approximately 2 1/2 quarts. Cover, place over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the meat is very tender and falling apart, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the meat from the water to a cutting board, and set aside to cool. Leave the cooking liquid in the pot. Once the pork butt is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone and shred, discarding any skin or cartilage. Place a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat and add the vegetable oil. Once shimmering, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are semi-translucent, approximately 2 minutes. Add the garlic and chili and continue to cook for another minute. Add the meat and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid and cook until heated through and the liquid has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside until ready to assemble.
For the wrappers:
While the meat is cooking, place the husks in a large bowl or container and submerge completely in hot water. Soak the husks until they are soft and pliable, at least 45 minutes and up to 2 hours. If you have an electric kettle, place the husks in the kettle, fill with water and turn on. Once the kettle turns off, allow the husks to sit for 1 hour in the hot water.
For the dough:
Place the masa, salt, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and combine. Add the lard and using your hands, knead together until the lard is well incorporated into the dry mixture. Gradually add enough of the reserved cooking liquid, 2 to 4 cups to create a dough that is like thick mashed potatoes. The dough should be moist but not wet. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and set aside until ready to use.
To assemble the tamales:
Remove a corn husk from the water and pat to remove excess water. Working in batches of 6, lay the husks on a towel and spread about 2 tablespoons of the dough in an even layer across the wide end of the husk to within 1/2-inch of the edges. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of the meat mixture in a line down the center of the dough. Roll the husk so the dough surrounds the meat and fold the bottom under to finish creating the tamale. Repeat until all the husks, dough and filling are used. Tie the tamales, around the center, individually or in groups of 3, with kitchen twine.
To steam the tamales:
Place a steamer basket in the bottom of an 11-quart pot and add enough water to come to the bottom of the basket. Stand the tamales close together on their folded ends and lean them in towards the center, away from the sides of the pot. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat, then cover and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Check the water level every 15 to 20 minutes, and add boiling water by pouring down the side of the pot, if necessary. Steam until the dough is firm and pulls away from the husk easily, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Serve warm. Store leftover tamales, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, in the freezer, for up to a month. To reheat, remove the plastic wrap and steam until heated through.


"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."

~Maria Robinson

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