TAMALES TAMALES TAMALES...
'tis the season for TAMALES
fist time out of the gates with the tamales and i think i did alright..
maybe i bit off more than i could chew, but i made 3 different tamales... shredded Asian duck with lightly sauteed Comice pears in tarragon...then i made some with pulled pork smothered in Mexican Red Sauce (Red Sauce Recipe found here), Hatch Chilis and queso fresco...then to round out the trio i made sweet tamales with apples and sultana raisins sauteed in butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and topped with toasted pecans...WHEW that's a mouth full. i'm tired just thinking about it. they were all fabulous.
there really is nothing like a fresh tamale right out of the steamer. i can't remember the last time i had one, but it was probably packaged or frozen or brought home and reheated.
once a year at this time our good long time friend, Lupe, brings us "REAL" authentic Mexican Tamales...and i say real because she was born in Mexico and her mother taught her how her mother taught her and so on and so on...
below is a quick photo of the loot that Lupe brought to us on Saturday night...
i must state that Lupe's Tamales ROCK !...experience definitely shows in flavors and texture.
making them yourself is so rewarding and like i said...fresh from the steamer these tight little packages are unbelievably delicious. it really isn't rocket science (when you take a few short cuts like i did) and they ARE a little labor intensive and tedious....BUT well worth the effort.
above is the shredded Asian Duck.
if you would like to know how i prepared the duck meat please refer to an earlier post i did on Asian style Duck Rillettes...just go as far as shredding the duck to bite size pieces. i sauteed the Comice pear with a little butter, brown sugar and dried tarragon...then added fresh tarragon before wrapping. this needed a little sauce to go with it. my first thought was Sriracha (Asian HOT sauce)...but i think i could have been more creative.
above is the sweet tamale filled with 2 kinds of apples (Granny Smith and Yellow Delicious) sauteed in butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg...with a few chopped toasted pecans. i mixed a bit of sugar into the masa. serve with whipped cream, ice cream or as i did with a little maple syrup for breakfast...YUMMM !
i have no real written recipe, BUT i do have...
A FEW GOOD HELPFUL HINTS AND SHORT CUTS...
from a first time tamale maker.
1. buy prepared masa made for tamales. find a real Mexican market or tortillaria near you. i found mine at El Matate. go in the morning, it's still warm in the bag. now that's fresh. try not to fall for anything pre-packaged. the fresh will come in a big plastic bag and hopefully still warm, but definitely moist and mooshy.
2. make your stuffing/filling the day before...or pull from your freezer like i did with the pulled pork and Mexican Red Sauce. you don't want to do all this in one day...trust me, the tortilla assembly and cooking will be enough for one day. i did, however, make the sweet tamale stuffing that day...quick and easy. like making your favorite apple pie filling.
3. if you can't deal with the corn husks, try wrapping them in parchment squares. they aren't as cute and authentic, but it does the trick. i think you can also purchase pre-cut tamale wrapping paper. i would have bought a package had i known, but i'm glad i went with the husks on the first time out.
4. when wrapping, make sure they are totally covered and your husks haven't split. the filling WILL squish out during cooking.
5. you can use string instead of corn husk strips to tie them up...this is not an easy task using the husk strips.
6. if you don't have a proper tamale steamer, use your pasta strainer or vegetable steamer at the bottom of your stock pot. i used a large vegetable steamer insert, as shown above, and had to lay my tamales flat instead of the traditional upright cooking method.
7. you need to have them sit a coup[e inches from the bottom and not touch the water.
also...you need enough water to be able to steam for 1 hour.
8. these can be wrapped ahead of time and cooked before serving. they will take approximately 1 hour to steam.
9. they keep well in the fridge for a quick meal and i suppose they can be frozen as well.
10. reheat in the microwave wrapped in a damp paper or cloth towel to keep moist.