Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hot Tamales! ...40 of them to be exact...

I said TAMALES, not sardines...
     So yesterday we had a little bit of a storm roll through.  Not exactly the blizzard that the other half of the country got, but sizable nonetheless.  Anyways, I took the opportunity to see just how crazy everybody gets when Old Man Winter rears his ugly side - I went in search for a dozen eggs.
     Bad idea...

     Despite the fact that we are in WaltonLand, I couldn't find a dozen freakin' eggs until I was 5 stores deep.  Thankfully I didn't need milk, bread, bottled water, sanity, or mass amounts of melting salts.  Of course, I got to thinking about what would happen if I couldn't attain the Dirty... ummm... Prized Dozen.  I knew I had some masa from She's recent fresh tortilla foray, which were absolutely great, and I could grab some chicken since we are also honorary citizens of TysonWorld.
I don't think I've ever been excited about the corny meat logs, but the idea of pulling them off OURselves was exciting - especially since I had the foresight to not do the tamales by myself...

She's leaving the scene of the masa murder... ...
     All in all I think we both left the kitchen astounded by both how easy tamales are to make(although tedious...) and how many can be made for the cost put into them.  Hell, they were pretty darn good to boot!  In the end we decided they were a little dense but were fairly tasty.  We'll definitely be tweaking the following recipe a bit.

Oh yeah, now might be a good time to get your dried husks soaking - unless you somehow have fresh ones hanging out in the Blizzer...

Tamale Filling
  • 2 lbs Chicken
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 T Salt
  • 2 T Cumin seeds
  • 1 T Black peppercorns

  • 1/4 c. Corn oil
  • 2 T Chili powder
  • 2 T Garlic powder
  • 1/2 T Salt
  1. Slowly simmer the chicken, bay leaves, and salt until tender enough to be pulled - 1 to 2 hours -- reserve the 'stock'
  2. Meanwhile, toast the cumin and peppercorns and freshly grind
  3. Slowly warm all of the spices in the oil for 15-20 minutes, making sure not to burn the spices
  4. Incorporate the warmed spice oil and pulled chicken and allow to cool

Masa Dough

  • 1 T cumin seeds
  • 1/2 T black peppercorns
  • 2 lbs yellow masa 
  • 3 T paprika 
  • 5 T chili powder 
  • 4 T garlic powder 
  • 3 T onion powder
  • 2 T salt 
  • 2 cups warm corn oil
  1. Toast the cumin and peppercorns in a dry sautee pan and grind
  2. Combine all of the dry ingredients uniformly
  3. Incorporate the warm oil and mix well - might be a good time to break out those old hands of yours!
  4. Slowly add the reserved 'stock' - we used a 1 oz ladle per addition - continue until the masa reaches a thinned peanut butter consistency

     As far as the tamale construction goes, it's pretty straightforward.  Drop a soaked husk on a flat surface and smear some of the masa goodness (1/4" or thinner) on the husk - on the two-thirds opposite of the pointy end and the two-thirds closest to you.  Top the masa with the spiced chicken mixture in a thin line and roll them masa over on to itself using the husk, continuing until the husk is completely rolled up, leaving the pointy end of the husk to fold over on the seam to hold it all together...   Holy Crap - that was long-winded - you're probably better off finding a movie on YouTube or something...

     Once you've rolled a complete boatload of tamales, pack those puppies in your favorite steaming device - or, in this case, the Titanic.  I would probably look for something smaller so that it could be done in batches.  Definitely probably...  Once these corn cigars steam for an hour or so, they'll definitely be close to finished.  To check on them, pull one out and let it rest for a couple minutes.  Then, slowly unwrap the tamale - if the husk pulls away from the masa cleanly then you're ready to roll/unroll.  If not, drop them back in the steam for a while.

Tamale Goodness!

     Plate those suckers and try to eat three - seriously.  Next time a little lighter and a little smaller.  Either way, they actually tasted great.

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