My dad was born and raised in Mexico, and my mom is from Washington state. They raised us in Washington but we had several Mexican traditions that we continued to do over the years. I remember quite a few Christmases when we’d sit down around the table (mostly the women in our family and some extended family) and pat masa into corn husks, making tamales. I think Christmas is the perfect day to make tamales because you have the family home and so there are lots of hands to help make each individual tamale. Scott and I made tamales last year on Christmas and we loved them so much that we’ve decided to continue that tradition with our family.
I found these corn husks in the produce area of our local grocery store, but you could also find them down the Mexican food aisle. Be sure you soak the corn husks in water, like I’m doing below in this picture. I just soak them for several minutes to soften them. I used this masa harina to make the masa, along with lard and water. The masa turns out like a cookie dough consistency, maybe just a tiny bit thinner.
You pat the masa into a corn husk like so, leaving some space at the bottom. Sometimes I’ll stick two small corn husks together to make a large one. Here’s the veggie tamale just before we folded it in thirds and rolled it.
And the chicken tamale
Fold in thirds, like so:
I steam our tamales in a large stock pot with a steamer attachment. We fit about 18 in here. I remember my aunt making some sort of a tinfoil contraption in the bottom of her stock pot that she used as a center piece and would lean tamales against it, and she could make a lot more that way.
Tamales cook for awhile; around an hour and 2o minutes so plan ahead.
But they are so worth the time. We sure love tamales!
~makes about 18 tamales
1 1/2 c lard
4 c Masa
2 tsp sea salt
2 1/2-3 c broth
1 Tbsp chili powder
-Chicken breast in a red or green mexican sauce (I like this chicken recipe)
-Pork in a red or green sauce
-Thin stick of Mozarella cheese(or grated mozarella works too) with chopped jalapeno (~1/2 tsp)
In a large mixing bowl, soak about 20 large corn husks for several minutes to soften them(if you don’t have enough large corn husks, you can put a couple smaller ones together). Bring a large stock pot with a steamer attached, to a boil; fill water up about half way because you’ll be steaming for about an hour an a half and you don’t want all your water to evaporate. Whip the lard until fluffy. Blend in everything else, adding enough water that the masa is not stiff and is easy to smear over husks, but not watery. Smear a thin layer of masa, about 1/4 inch thick, over each husk, patting it in, and leaving a couple of inches at the bottom of the husk, without masa. Add 1-2 Tbsp of filling to the center. Fold in thirds over the filling, loosely sealing the ends of the masa by pressing together. Place in a large steamer, stacked, and steam until masa dough is firm, about 1 hour and a half. To check if done, open one of the larger ones and see if the masa has cooked through the middle; sometimes you’ll have to take out the smaller ones first and then cook the bigger ones another ten minutes or so.