Oh, the Holidays! So much to do, and so little time to enjoy. And while cooking this month, a series of emails messages were exchanged to help a fellow blogger in her pursuit of preparing the traditional tamales during this time of the year. The subject of the emails was about the dough for making the tamales. People familiar with making tamales outside México will use the corn flour made specially for Tamales, the one sold by “Maseca” in a 5-pound paper package. This corn flour is a good substitute if fresh corn dough (masa) is not available. But, what happens if you can’t find that type of flour and the only one available is the one sold for regular tortillas? The regular maseca for tortillas is also a good alternative for making tamales, but you will need to take good care to mix the right amount of ingredients to achieve the consistency needed to cook tamales.
This recipe has a pork filling with a sauce made with dry red peppers, very similar to the ones made in the Mexican Northern States of Coahuila and Nuevo León. A lady from Monclova, Coahuila gave me her recipe years ago. Her name is Yolanda and she sells these tamales to her neighbors and friends. When I asked for the recipe, she invited me over to her house to learn how she made them. That day we made 100 tamales!! They are small and very tasty, almost addictive.
Ingredients for 16 Tamales
For the Dough:
- 3 cups of Masa Harina for Tortillas
- 1 1/3 cup of Lard
- 2 1/2 cups of the broth where you cooked the meat.
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- Salt if needed (Broth has already salt added)
For the Meat:
- 3/4 pound of pork shoulder cut in cubes.
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 white onion
- 1 Bay leaf
- 4 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon of salt
For the Sauce:
- 2 Ancho Peppers cleaned, deveined and seeded.
- 3 Guajillo Peppers cleaned, deveined and seeded.
- 2 small garlic cloves,
- 1/3 teaspoon of fresh ground cumin seeds
- 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil
- Salt and black pepper to season
- 16 Large Corn Husks plus more for the steaming pot
Instructions for the filling:
1. In a medium size pot, combine the pork meat, garlic, onion, Bay Leaf and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover with the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer partly covered, occasionally skimming and discarding fat from surface, about 1 hour or until meat is tender enough to shred. Remove onion, garlic, Bay leaf, and discard. Skim the broth and when the meat is cool enough to handle shred into bite-size pieces and set aside.
2. While the meat is cooking. Soak the dry peppers in a medium size pot with warm water for about 20 minutes. Drain and place in the blender with the garlic cloves, cumin and 1/3 cup of soaking water. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat, add the dry peppers sauce, 1 cup of the meat broth and cook for 8 minutes. Add shredded pork and season with salt and ground black pepper. Add more broth if needed. Simmer until heated through, about 5 more minutes.
3. Place corn husks into a large bowl or pot. Pour enough boiling water over the husks to cover. Place a metal lid or heatproof dish on the husks to keep them submerged. Soak for about 45 minutes. Remove, drain and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, beat the lard by hand or with an electric mixer until it is light. Add baking powder and the masa-harina and gradually the stock until dough is very light. If your dough looks dry add more broth or water. Taste and add salt if needed.
Continue to beat until dough is well combined, light and smooth. To make sure your dough is light enough place a small amount in a glass with water. It will float when it’s ready.
5. Now comes the fun part. Assembling the Tamales. Place a small amount of the dough in the center of a corn husk. Using the back of a spoon spread the dough and top it with 1 1/2 tablespoon of the meat filling. Fold the sides of the husks. Fold bottom toward the center. And place tamales standing up in your already prepared tamal steamer cover with a layer of corn husks and a dish towel, cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Add more water to the steamer if needed during that time. For more pictures and instructions to assemble and cooking the tamales check this post “Chicken in green sauce Tamales”
To check for doneness remove one of the tamales and if the husk can easily be removed from the dough they are ready.
But if the dough sticks to the husk place back into the pot and cook for 15 more minutes.Serve with a warm cup of Atole.
I hope you make them and, if this recipe was of any help to you, please come back to let me know your experience. I will really appreciate your feedback.