Tamales are a celebration food! They are typical fiesta fare. Simply the tamale making process is an event in and of itself. In Mexican culture, tamales are made for any number of celebrations, Christmas probably the biggest time of year for gathering in the kitchen and putting a huge batch together. But I decided that I was going to make it a New Year ritual at Casa González. I mean, I'm not gonna deny anybody tamales if they want them for, saaaaaaay, Secretary's Day...but...you know. So along with my molé, I made tamales using said molé to ring in 2010. We just made a small batch, ~3 dozen...just mexi & I in the kitchen. But it is a load of fun to gather ingredients...family members, friends, neighbors, strangers walking their dogs...and make a tamalada (tamale making ritual...party before the party) of it!
...just the process, not an actual recipe
Corn husks (or banana leaves)
Prepared Masa (recipe to come, sometime in the future)
Filling (this time I used chicken w/ molé)
Tamale pot/steamer (either one made for it or a big pot fitted w/ raised rack)
Pick through and soak your corn husks (in hot water) until pliable, ~4 hours. Cover with a plate to keep them submerged.
Put your prepared masa in one large bowl.
Put your prepared filling in another large bowl.
Give yourself a good amount of space. Divide the tasks into stations if you're doing it tamalada style. Oh yeah, and while you're getting everything prepared, take a few of the corn husks and rip them right down the grain into thin ribbons for tying your tamales.
Now, arrange your drained corn husks first, masa second, filling third and tying station last. Lay one husk flat, tapered end closest to you. Put ~1/4 c. of masa onto husk and spread it into a fairly thin layer, ~1/4" thickness. Be sure to leave a good amount of space (~1 1/2")at the bottom for "sealing" and ~1/2 - 3/4" on the other sides. Spoon a good heaping Tbs. of filling down the center. Fold one side over and then fold the other side over that. Fold up the bottom and tie gently with strip of husk or string.Arrange the tamales, open side up, on the rack inside the pot. Oh yeah, don't forget to fill the bottom of the pot with water first. Repeat, passing down the line, if it applies, until you are out of ingredients.
If there is still space inside the pot, just wad up a bit of tin foil and stick it in this space. This will keep the tamales from falling over (a tip I learned from the Master...you all know who that is by now. Right!?).Turn on the water until it begins to boil. Turn down and let it steam, with the lid on, for ~45 minutes.
You will be able to tell they are done when the husk pulls away from the masa easily. Let cool and refrigerate to hold.
Reheat by steaming or microwaving...or fry some up on the comal...that'll give 'em crisp outsides...YUM! I love them that way. Course, I like 'em any way! I am in the tamale making mood...so get ready for more tamales in the hopefully near future!
**UPDATE: I am submitting this to Joan at Foodalogue who is starting her 2010 Culinary Tour South of the Border....in Mexico! Be sure to check out all of the wonderful foods brought to her round-up as she posts it!**