So this is the second year I have made tamales and I have have a couple of dozen people who are looking forward to them for the continuing years to come. So I guess you could say that it's become a new tradition for me.
They can be a bit time consuming in the assembly but they are super easy to prepare.
I have only done chicken and pork tamales before, but the greatest thing with tamales is that you can really put any meat and sauce into them.
I don't really have a real recipe for them either...just whats in my head!
So the ingredients you need are:
This will make about 4 or 5 dozen tamales
1 pkg of tamale husks
1 10 lb. bag of prepared masa (can be bought at any Hispanic market year round)
For chicken tamales: ~6 or 7 lbs of chicken (I used skin on bone on breast which you can get really cheap when on sale... 99 cents at SB)
1 large can of Las Palmas green enchilada sauce
2 small cans chili verde salsa
For pork tamales: ~ 1 roast or 6 or 7 lbs of pork meat
1 large can of Las Palmas red enchilada sauce
1 1/2 small cans of Las Palmas colorado chili sauce
So first off - way ahead of time (the day before preferably) stick just the meat in a crock pot and season to taste (I use chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, seasoned salt, pepper...and whatever else I feel like throwing in there) and a small amount of water, maybe a cup full or so. Cook it on low for about 10 hrs ( I let mine go all night) Seriously people, you want the meat falling off the bone. It makes the shredding and deboning and skinning so much more pleasant.
After the meat is cooked you'll need to shred it all and take out the skin and bones if needed. Return shredded meat to the pot and refrigerate until needed. You want to do this ahead of time, believe me you DO NOT want to stick your fingers down into boiling hot meat. You don't need to add the sauces until you are ready to assemble them.
Also the night before, soak your pkg of husks in water ( I just plug up my kitchen sink) and just let 'em have a good and long bath. In the morning roll a towel out and place the husks on it and roll it burrito style to take the excess water out, but to still keep them moist.
When you are ready to go all out and make these tasty little buggers, you might want to cover the table with clean trash bags which make clean up a snap.
Take your meat and plug it in on low for about a half hour so it gets just barely warm. Add your sauces to the crock pot and make it nice and soupy. If you think it needs more sauce add some more. You want the sauce to be VERY saucy so the sauce will seep into the masa....mmmm I am getting excited already!
So for the final assembly, lay a moist husk, smooth side up on the table, and spoon in a big ole dollop of masa on the upper 3/4's of the husk. You want to leave enough clean space on the bottom of the husk for when you fold it up. So spread the masa not too thin but not to thick on the entire rest of the husk. Now add your meat mix on top...my man likes his very meaty...so don't be skimpy, nothing is worse then a dry tamale!!
To fold the husk, just take one side and fold it over the other side and pull the bottom up to seal it. So easy right??
So once you have gone tamale crazy, you can either cook them right away or freeze them until you are ready to serve them. You will need some sort of stockpot with a steamer insert to steam the tamales in. They are very inexpensive, I saw one at Walmart for less than 20$.
Just fill the pot with water up to the fill line (make sure that water doesn't immerse the tamales when it boils or else you will have soggy tamales) and turn up the heat on high and let them boil for about 45 min. (Make sure to watch the water level so you don't let the water evaporate and burn your pan) To check and see if they are done, just peel back a little of the husk and you can see that they are firm inside but they won't look 100% done. Turn off the flame and now you have to let them sit for about 20 minutes to fully set up and "harden".
Wala!! You have just successfully made tamales and you have accumulated all of the bragging rights that go with it.
Tamales keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks and you can just microwave to reheat OR they also freeze wonderfully and to reheat them you can thaw them (which may take overnight)
and lay them single file in a shallow pan in the oven. Place another shallow pan on the bottom tray filled with water - this prevents the tamales from drying out while reheating.
Have fun!! Please leave me any comments and questions, I forgot take any pictures when I made them this last time.