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HOW TO MAKE TAMALES HUASTECOS IN BANANA LEAVES

This recipe of tamales varies slightly where some cooks add tomato and sesame seeds to the sauce. And even though it has the seeds of the peppers in the sauce it is not spicy. The Tamales wrapped in banana leaves are common in the tropical coastal areas of México.
Course Antojitos
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 25 - 30 Tamales

Ingredients

  • 2 Lbs. of meaty pork ribs cut into cubes of about 1 ¼ inch Ask your butcher to cut it for you
  • 2 Lbs. pork leg cut into cubes of about 1 ¼ inch

For the Adobo (Chilpan):

  • 8 Ancho peppers seeded, deveined and cleaned (reserve some of the seeds)
  • 6 Guajillos peppers seeded, deveined, and cleaned. (reserve some of the seeds)
  • 5 Morita peppers seeded or chipotles Optional if you want your tamales to be spicy
  • ¼ cup of the peppers seeds
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons black peppers
  • ¼ cup of sesame seeds optional
  • cup of corn masa prepared corn dough
  • ½ white onion roasted and cut into thick slices
  • 3 cloves of garlic roasted
  • 4 Roma or plum tomatoes Sometimes I don’t add them
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 packages of banana leaves you can find them in the frozen foods section.

MASA/DOUGH:

  • 4 ½ Lbs. Corn Masa or equivalent made with Masa Harina for Tortillas
  • 2 Lbs. lard could be substituted by shortening
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • Water or chicken broth enough to cream the dough

Instructions

Prepare the sauce “Chilpan”:

  • Lightly toast the Guajillo, Ancho and Morita Peppers in a skillet. Gently press the peppers with a spatula, as soon as pepper’s skin start forming some blisters remove from the skillet, do not let them burn. If using the Morita peppers, they will give the tamales a rich smoky flavor.
  • Place the peppers into a bowl with 2 cups of warm water to soak for 30 minutes or until soft.
  • In the same skillet you roasted the peppers, lightly roast the peppers seeds and the black peppers corns, allowing them cool before mixing with the peppers. Do the same with the sesame seeds if using.
  • Drain the peppers, reserving soaking water, and place them in a blender puree with garlic, onion, black pepper and seeds. Add ½ cup of the soaking water. Use a good blender to have better results. The end result should be a fine thick sauce.
  • Dissolve the ⅓ cup of masa with some water and add to the “Chilpan” sauce and stir. Add salt and taste. Add this mixture to the meat and let marinated while you prepare the corn dough. This sauce can be made in advance. I did it the day before.

Corn Dough preparation:

  • Beat lard and salt with an electric mixer or by hand until light and creamy. Add the Corn dough and broth little by little keep beating until dough is well mixed, smooth and homogenous. The dough will be light enough when a small amount floats when dropped in a glass of water. Just take care that it is well integrated and smooth.

For the Banana Leaves:

  • After removing the banana leaves from their plastic package cut the rough hard part of the edge using your kitchen scissors (This is the leaf’s center vein).
  • Cut the banana leaves into rectangles of about 9 inches wide.
  • Place them one with one over the stove top flame in a steady and fast movement, they will change to a glossy color and become pliable. Rinse with warm water and dry well with a kitchen towel.

Assembling the tamales:

  • Place ¼ of the batter into each leaf and spread it with wet fingers or with the back of a spoon (Have a bowl with water at hand for this purpose) top with one or two pieces of meat with the sauce.
  • Fold one side of the leaf toward the center; and then the other side overlapping, then fold the ends to the point where the dough begins into each side.
  • Line the steamer with banana leaves scraps if you have leftovers. Arrange in a steamer that has been previously filled with 2 inches of water.
  • Cover with more banana leaves and a kitchen towel and pot lid. You can also use a piece of aluminum foil or plastic to cover the tamales.
  • Cook for 2 hours (check notes above) after the water start boiling. Use the old trick of dropping a coin into the bottom of the steamer when adding the water to the pot. The coin will start rattling after the water has evaporated. If this happens then add more water carefully removing the lid facing against your face to avoid a steam burn.

To check if the tamales are cooked. Remove one from the pot and if the leave peels off easily, they are done. If not put back into the stove for 15 more minutes.

    Notes

    • From 2 pounds of prepared masa (corn dough) you will make between 25 to 30 tamales.
    • The filling could be uncooked pork or chicken. The chicken is cut into pieces. If using already cooked meat, the cut the steaming time to 1 hour and 5 to 10 minutes.