Friday, January 10, 2014


Across the street from our old place was a fantastic Mexican grocery store with the best nachos and burritos.  I miss that place so much that I go back at a least once a month (twice in the last week to make up for missed times!) because I crave it.  It's a guilty pleasure.

Anyway, around the holidays, there are always big bags of prepared masa and corn husks on display.  It's always got me thinking of making tamales.  I know it's a big, time intensive thing so it's great to do when family's around.  Well, I don't have family around now, but I just made a batch of carnitas and we were there, so we got masa and corn husks.

I spent some time googling  and YouTubing "how to make tamales".  Then, I decided to just go for it.

1. Soak corn husks in hot water.

2. Prepare filling.  I had carnitas that I shredded.  It was in the fridge so that juice and fat were a bit congealed, which turned out to be a good thing - it made the filling juicier and not dry. 

 I also had some leftover turkey so I mixed that with some salsa verde and even though it's not very authentic, a couple tablespoons of cheddar cheese.  Shredded rotisserie chicken would be good too.

3. Spread masa on corn husks (about 1/4" thick).  What I read was use the back of a spoon.  I tried this but found pressing it out with the heel of my hand worked better.    Rolling it into a ball...

then into a fat log...

then pressing it out worked even better.

4. Put a tablespoon of filling in the center, then roll the corn husk from one edge to the other.  

Tuck in the sides.  You can tie the tamale with a thin strip of the corn husk.  From what I read, one side is typically open, so you want to steam that side up.  I decided to tuck both sides in and ended up tying both ends.  A little more work, but since I don't have a steamer to stand the tamales up, I figured this was a good idea for me.

5.  Steam for one hour.  Apparently, there are actual vessels out there for tamale steaming.  I suppose a pasta pot with strainer type thing would work too.  But the closest I have is my big sauce pan and a wire rack from my toaster oven.  

I could only fit 7 at a time, but maybe I could fit them on top of each other too?  To do list: get a steamer thing.

The result? Probably not the most authentic tamales but pretty tasty.  I think the key is the masa, which I bought pre-made.  My trouble has been that the masa comes in a 5 pound bag and I can't seem to make enough tamales to use it up.  Maybe it's time to have a tamale making party!

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