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Old 02-07-2021, 05:28 PM   #1
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Tamales!

A few weeks ago someone had a thread asking what foods we have always wanted to make, but never did. I wanted to learn to make tamales. So, today was tamal day!

I used a mass recipe from Rick Bayless' Authentic Mexican. The other day I made a rotisserie chicken and had half of it left, and yesterday did some carnitas. Today I made both a salsa Verde and a salsa roja, and made 4 different fillings. Pork with green, pork with red, chicken with green and chicken with red.

Bayless said that the test of good mass dough is when a teaspoon dropped in cold water floats to the surface. Like balloon in water, it bobbed right up! Judy and I work together on filling and tying the tamales. Right now they're in the steamer.

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Old 02-07-2021, 05:54 PM   #2
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Looks great, SS! I'm sure you will love those. I made that recipe of his way back, though I haven't made tamales for a long time - one of those things better for a crowd! One thing I have really liked when I made them a few times were the tamales made in banana leaves - much like with the Asian treats wrapped in them, they give it a unique and delicious flavor.
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Old 02-07-2021, 07:43 PM   #3
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I made some oil free last month, with a stir fry I stuffed them with. I didn't have corn husks so I used parchment papers, steamed them. They turned out good. We had apple filling in some others but both of us liked the stir fry filled ones better, savory.
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Old 02-07-2021, 08:36 PM   #4
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So, the end result is OK. Or as Judy sad, not terrible.
Now I need your help trouble shooting so that they are better next time.

The first thing I noticed is that I think I had too much filling to dough ratio. That's an easy fix. But something else wasn't quite right. Bayless combined ground grits with the mass flour, and I think it detracted from the corn flavor I wanted. The dough was very very light, which is supposed to be a good thing, but I wanted more body. Next time I will just use maseca flour.

I really tasted the lard. It had an authenticity about it, but it was strong. It was fresh lard from my local Latin grocery. Has anyone mixed lard with another fat to temper it? Or maybe it was the wrong lard? What can you tell me?

They took 2 hours to steam instead of one. The condensation was making them mushy in the tops. After an hour, I piled a dish towel on top, and then put the lid back on. The towel seemed to help absorb the condensation.

All in all, not awful, but not great. What do you all suggest?
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Old 02-07-2021, 09:32 PM   #5
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I love tamales, and learned to make them while living in California. A few things. My tamale mentor taught me to fold in the tops to keep the condensation from dripping down into the tops.

For each cup of filling (meat), I used 1 1/4 cup of Masa Harina, 1 cup liquid (H2O or broth) 1/3 cup of lard or shortening, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and sometimes add 1 teaspoon of each cumin and chili powder to the mix.

My cook time is 90 minutes of "gentle steaming." After cooked, I was told to open the lid and let them set for 30 minutes.

I think the lard taste may be the kind of lard you used. Was it shelf-stable lard? I have always found an odd taste with that. I have used Crisco....yeah, I know, but the results were good as was refrigerated lard.

Kudos for making tamales! They freeze really well so when you get your recipe down, make a bunch!
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Old 02-07-2021, 10:58 PM   #6
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SS, That thing with the grits is something that I remember in old Diana Kennedy books, too. Fortunately, a coarser form of masa harina specifically for tamales is now widely available - it will say Harina de Maiz Para Tamales, or something like that. Don't be put off by the labeling of these things as "instant" - that just means that you add the other ingredients (lard and water), and it's ready to use.
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Old 02-07-2021, 11:02 PM   #7
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I thought I had put a tutorial on here about tamales, but can't find it. I started pulverizing thawed frozen corn to add to the dough, gave it a lot more flavor. We just use manteca. We try to buy it from someplace like a Latin market or in a high Latin population area so there is a good bit of turnover. And always refrigerate once opened. I use extra corn husks and cover the tops of the open.tamales so the condensation doesn't drip in. Also, are you getting the masa for tamales? They have different kinds for tortillas, tamales, etc. Honestly, I don't know if it really makes a difference because I alwas buy the specific kind.

The first time we made them, Craig went to the Mercado to get the stuff to make the dough and ended up asking for help because he couldn't find something. The person helping him answered his question, but then told him 1 of the employees made the dough and sold it, as well as tamales.
We ended up getting 5 pounds of dough from her.
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Old 02-08-2021, 02:20 PM   #8
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For 3 cups of masa harina for tamales, I use either 3 ears of fresh corn, cut off cobb and cobb milked or 1-1/2 cups frozen thawed corn.
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Old 02-08-2021, 02:45 PM   #9
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I use all masa harina and I also add fresh corn to the masa. The pops of sweet corniness with the filling and sauce add a lot to the flavor.
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Tamales! A few weeks ago someone had a thread asking what foods we have always wanted to make, but never did. I wanted to learn to make tamales. So, today was tamal day! I used a mass recipe from Rick Bayless' Authentic Mexican. The other day I made a rotisserie chicken and had half of it left, and yesterday did some carnitas. Today I made both a salsa Verde and a salsa roja, and made 4 different fillings. Pork with green, pork with red, chicken with green and chicken with red. Bayless said that the test of good mass dough is when a teaspoon dropped in cold water floats to the surface. Like balloon in water, it bobbed right up! Judy and I work together on filling and tying the tamales. Right now they're in the steamer. 3 stars 1 reviews
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