Even though I’m not of Latin descent in any way, shape or form (Jewish-American girl here!) I love, love, LOVE the Mexican holiday tradition of making TAMALES!!
This year I plan to make chicken, pork and beef tamales. I’m starting with chicken. I’m sure I don’t quite do things the authentic way, but we find them oh, so yummy!!
[Please note I am making a dietary exception here in that I AM using traditional corn masa in these. When I make small batches (i.e. single dinner) I experiment with almond/coconut/alternative flours…but these I want to be as traditional as possible and will use corn.]
meat (I have six HUGE boneless/skinless chicken breasts)
seasoning to taste (I like MSG-free taco seasoning)
salsa to taste (this provides the saucy-tomato-y goodness in the chicken
masa preparado (this kind of masa has the fat already in the mix…and you just add water)
cheese (I love cheese!)
tamale papers, corn husks or in a pinch, foil sheets (or foil or parchment paper cut into sheets)
**the papers are the most expensive option but I do this because I like not dealing with husks yet find the tamales cook similarly in paper vs. foil
Step 1: Throw your meat, salsa and seasonings into a crockpot or pressure cooker and cook until very tender
Step 2: Let the meat cool and shred well; drain off excess moisture if necessary but don’t press/squeeze…you want it very moist but not soup-y
Step 3: Prepare your masa accoding to package directions
Step 4: Create your assembly area
(I like to set out a bowl of chicken, bowl of masa and bowl of cheese and a large baking sheet for the finished tamales)
Step 5: There are LOTS of ways to assemble tamales. I’d recommend visiting Dr. Google or Youtube to view some videos. I like a lot of masa:meat in mine but this year am going to try to make them less heavy on the masa (due to my paleo/primal/phd eating preference!). What I do is I spread a thin layer of masa into a 6″ square on the paper. Then I spread a layer of meat but not all the way to the edges of the masa. Then I add cheese. Then I fold/roll so the meat is sealed inside the masa. Then I twist the paper ends.
Step 6: Cook your tamales. steaming is traditional, but you can bake as well (put a pan of water in the bottom of the oven for moisure if you bake!). I’ve taken to pressure cooking mine on a rack with chicken broth in the bottom of the pressure cooker. YUM!!
I plan to repeat with pork and beef. YUM AGAIN!!
I should note that the best way to make tamales is to make LOTS with a big group of family members and/or friends. That doesn’t mean you can’t make them alone, but the social aspect of the traditional is just as important (possibly even moreso) as the final product! 😀