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Old 02-25-2011, 05:43 PM   #1
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Tamale Question?

I made a bunch of tamale last night for the office pot-luck today. I used Boston Butt for the meat, seasoned appropriately, made a sauce that tasted great, had plenty of filling and sauce. I cut parchment paper into four inch squares and made the masa dough. I spread the dough to all sides of the paper, as thinly as possible with my fingers. I placed about a tbs. of filling in the middle and rolled the dough inward to make a tube that completely surrounded the filling. I them steamed them until done (about 45 minutes). My problem is this. The filling tasted great and the dough was perfect. The texture of the cooked tamale was spot on, except for one thing. As the masa dough cooked, it swelled like it was supposed to. But even spreading it as thinly as I had, it was so much outer, that the inner got lost. That is, the cooked outside portion (the dough) overpowered the filling. There was far too little filling. The sum was not equal to the parts.

What size is good for the squares insure that there is sufficient filling to balance the flavors?

Also, does anyone have any great fillings for dessert tamale? (I jsut learned last week that the singular form is tamal, while the plural form is tamale, but don't tell anyone else. That way, we can feel smart).

And lest anyone should complain about me using parchment paper as the wrapper, you try to find corn husks, in Sault Ste. Marie, MI., in February. :-)

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

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Old 02-25-2011, 05:46 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodweed of the North View Post
I made a bunch of tamale last night for the office pot-luck today. I used Boston Butt for the meat, seasoned appropriately, made a sauce that tasted great, had plenty of filling and sauce. I cut parchment paper into four inch squares and made the masa dough. I spread the dough to all sides of the paper, as thinly as possible with my fingers. I placed about a tbs. of filling in the middle and rolled the dough inward to make a tube that completely surrounded the filling. I them steamed them until done (about 45 minutes). My problem is this. The filling tasted great and the dough was perfect. The texture of the cooked tamale was spot on, except for one thing. As the masa dough cooked, it swelled like it was supposed to. But even spreading it as thinly as I had, it was so much outer, that the inner got lost. That is, the cooked outside portion (the dough) overpowered the filling. There was far too little filling. The sum was not equal to the parts.

What size is good for the squares insure that there is sufficient filling to balance the flavors?

Also, does anyone have any great fillings for dessert tamale? (I jsut learned last week that the singular form is tamal, while the plural form is tamale, but don't tell anyone else. That way, we can feel smart).

And lest anyone should complain about me using parchment paper as the wrapper, you try to find corn husks, in Sault Ste. Marie, MI., in February. :-)

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
Will it still roll up with more filling in it?
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Old 02-25-2011, 06:04 PM   #3
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Sweet Mexican tamal has no filling, just pineapple flavored sweetened masa with some food coloring. I frequently get them from street vendors here.
The 2 Mexican women I work with are originally from 2 different regions of Mexico and their quantity of masa, fillings, and proportions seem to vary greatly when I asked. I personally like the tiny tamales.
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Old 02-25-2011, 07:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodweed of the North View Post
I made a bunch of tamale last night for the office pot-luck today. I used Boston Butt for the meat, seasoned appropriately, made a sauce that tasted great, had plenty of filling and sauce. I cut parchment paper into four inch squares and made the masa dough. I spread the dough to all sides of the paper, as thinly as possible with my fingers. I placed about a tbs. of filling in the middle and rolled the dough inward to make a tube that completely surrounded the filling. I them steamed them until done (about 45 minutes). My problem is this. The filling tasted great and the dough was perfect. The texture of the cooked tamale was spot on, except for one thing. As the masa dough cooked, it swelled like it was supposed to. But even spreading it as thinly as I had, it was so much outer, that the inner got lost. That is, the cooked outside portion (the dough) overpowered the filling. There was far too little filling. The sum was not equal to the parts.

What size is good for the squares insure that there is sufficient filling to balance the flavors?

Also, does anyone have any great fillings for dessert tamale? (I jsut learned last week that the singular form is tamal, while the plural form is tamale, but don't tell anyone else. That way, we can feel smart).

And lest anyone should complain about me using parchment paper as the wrapper, you try to find corn husks, in Sault Ste. Marie, MI., in February. :-)

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
You could cut the parchmet paper into larger squares. Try a 6". The average size of a large corn husk is about 6 inches wide, and they can be smaller. When you spread the dough it can be done using a tough spatula, or a spackle tool. They spread the dough more evenly then using a spoon. It's also much quicker doing it that way. You can buy corn husks online. An average bag will make dozens of tamales.

Banana leaves are also great alternatives for wrappers.
I've been enjoying a few recipes from this cookbook.Tamales-Mark-Miller. It won't let me link the actual book, but you can't miss it.

Haven't tried them all yet. They have some alternative filler recipes that I wouldn't have thought to try. The Salmon Tamales with red pepper is outstanding as well as the Cabernet with beef and black pepper. Nice illustrations easy to make recipes.

Munky.
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Old 02-26-2011, 01:36 AM   #5
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Goodweed, I use parchment paper sometimes when making Tamales. I never could get the masa thin enough. My solution was to put my masa ball in between two sheets on paper and press it with my tortilla press it works great for me.

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Old 02-26-2011, 01:45 AM   #6
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I was wondering about using the tortilla press. I have corn husks I bought the last time I was in MN (home of lots of mexican food stuff--go figure, being mostly Scandinavian descendants in the area). And thanks for mentioning utilizing other tools. The tortilla press is on the DH's to do list (I think it is now #648). One of my Mexican cookbooks has the instructions on making one. In the meantime, I use a plate as my tortilla press when I get a hankering to make homemade tortillas (for which you NEED masa flour if you are making corn ones). I tried my krumkake iron, but that didn't quite do the job (although the lefse iron works well for cooking them). If I finish all my work this weekend, maybe I'll make some tamales...

Once steamed, can I freeze the tamales? Do I have to remove the corn husks? (Being one of those Scandinavian descendants, I don't know about freezing tamales <g>). Oh--I got the corn husks at Walmart of all places.
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Old 02-26-2011, 10:05 AM   #7
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They freeze well. I have the metal press. Sometimes they stick to it. But you can Use a split zip lock bag to keep them from sticking. The presses are only 10-12 dollars here.( I know all about Dh to do list, I think he uses them to start fires )

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Old 02-27-2011, 12:47 PM   #8
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Finished my editing projects that are due tomorrow, so I am going to venture into the kitchen and make some tamales.

The filling I used last time is from "The FamilyCircle Encyclopedia of Cooking" (p. 473), copyright 1990, Lexicon Publications. I modify it somewhat--I add about 1-1/2 c kidney beans, 1-2 tsp cocoa and use fresh tomatoes and peppers.

We'll see how this turns out now that I'm going to actually use corn husks. I noticed that the recommendation if you want to freeze them is to freeze before steaming. I know others have said they freeze well, and I assumed that was after steaming?

To test the "thickness" of the dough, I'm going to make one and steam it before I "lather" the dough on the others. I just hope I can stop myself from eating the filling "as is" <g>.
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Old 02-27-2011, 04:41 PM   #9
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I have never tried making these myself, but eat them every Wednesday because my husband buys them from a lady that comes around all of the businesses in town. I KNOW that I could not make them as good as she does. Anyway, I have a friend who has made them several times, and she says that your problem is that you need several people in the kitchen at once to be able to get it right.
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Old 02-27-2011, 04:53 PM   #10
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2 tablespoons of filling. Parchment paper/husks, makes no difference.

Thanks for the idea of using the tortilla press, I have one of those, somewhere.
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