The tamale is a thing of beauty, and is something that tastes so natural and earthy to me. Having worked with masa in the past, I wanted to extend it beyond the tortilla, and therefore I came up with the notion of making the tamale. Making the tamale is a bit of a process (making the dough, choosing the meat or vegetable to stuff, and steaming), however it is one that is truly worth it. My wife has never experienced a tamale, and she loved it.
- 3 cups of masa harina
- beef broth (warmed)
- 1 tbs chili powder
- 1 tbs garlic powder
- 1 tbs ground cumin
- 1 tbs onion powder
- 1 cup of vegetable shortening
- Dried corn husks (purchase from a supermercado or mexican grocery store)
- Meat to stuff (I used my shredded pork)
First, rinse the about 20-40 corn husks, then place in a large dish to soak for roughly 30-40 minutes.
In a large bowl, add the masa, and to that add in all of your dried spices, stirring to mix well. In a separate mixing bowl, whip the vegetable shortening until it gets slightly fluffy. Add the masa mixture to the shortening and incorporate really well. Slowly add in about a cup or so of the warm beef broth. You basically want the masa mixture to be the consistency of a thick peanut butter. Add more broth if you have to.
Once the masa is ready, and the husks are done soaking, remove the husks from the water, and pat dry with a large towel. Get your steaming pan ready as well. I use a large pan, filled with about 4 cups of water, then put my steamer on top, covered with a lid.
Now, let the games begin.
Get a corn husk and lay it across the palm of your hand with the small end toward your fingers. scoop up about 1/4 cup of the Masa dough with a knife, and then smear it on the husk.
Cover about left 2/3 of the husk with Masa, leaving the other 1/3 on the right uncovered. Similarly, cover the bottom 2/3 of the shuck, and leave the top 1/3 uncovered. Do this the same for about ten of the husks to work in batches.
Now it is time to add the meat. Take about 1 tablespoon of meat, and lay it on the masa about an inch from the left edge.
I folded mine into purses or bundles, then shredded some of the husks to tie the bundles as we do not want them to unwrap during the steaming process.
Continue this process until you are done making the tamales. Bring your water to a boil, then reduce the heat a bit. Add your tamales to the steamer, cover, and let steam for roughly two hours. When you are ready to test, take a tamale out of the steamer and set it aside for roughly 5 minutes. The husk should unwrap easily, and the masa should be firm and fully cooked.
Now get ready to eat. Remove the tamales from the steamer, place on a large serving plate, and let your guests unwrap themselves. These tamale purses with so good. Serve with your favorite mexican sauce, or eat them plain.
A thing to note is that if you have plenty of leftovers, these can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days, or seal in a ziplock bag and place in the freezer for up to six months. I used a Foodsaver system that vacuum seals the food, so they can be stored in the freezer for a much longer period of time. When you are ready to cook them, remove them from the freezer, let thaw, then cover with a wet paper towel and cook in the microwave for 1 minute or so.