Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Here today, gone tamale

I had a wild hair and two days in a row off of work. And so yep, I made pork tamales!! Holy cow what a load of work. Was it worth it? Perhaps. Are they good? I did good.

I was all excited to post step-by-step instructions and the recipe but I found one already pretty perfect. So, I'm just adding my own tips. I'd highly recommend this page for instructions, pictures and accurate measurements. http://www.makingtamales.com/cook.html. I wish I had found it long ago... or even this time. You see I didn't see it until just now. Big bummer! But we must move on...BEWARE though- many sites will give you bunk information and set you up for failure. This one is pretty right on the money.

However, if you're making a big batch (which you should because it takes just as long to make 100 as it does 5)use lard (Tip #1). You know what? The taste is distinctive and I feel like its too important and you work waaaay too hard on these to use oil and have them be just so-so. You need the full robust flavor that lard brings. Saturated fat is high yes, but not as much as butter. And unlike many margarines and vegetable oils, lard does not contain any trans fat. Besides, these are special treats, they're small and you're not going to eat 100 of them.

Tip #2: I used 10ounces of lard rather than a full two cups.

Tip #3: After you season your meat, add a little olive oil and stock to moisten the meat and warm the spices.

Tip #4: Overspice the meat. After steaming it loses a lot of flavor and there is nothing worse than a bland tamale. If you get a second wild hair, make your own pepper sauce with your choice of peppers - it's fun!

Tip #5: Don't be ridiculous and tie each one of your tamales up in string or thin pieces of husk. Just fold the husk over! Jeez.

Tip #6: Add the 1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder to the dried masa. The lighter texture makes them feel more gourmet.

Tip #7: Try not to make tamales like my Aunt Betty. Bless her heart, she was a fine woman and she was always very sweet to me. But she made one sad sack tamale. I think the aunts would take turns making them during holidays. Even as a young girl I had deep regret when it was Betty's turn. Hers were too thick, had too much masa, not enough meat, they were dry, the masa didn't have any flavor or salt and her meat was gray and tasteless. Nothing worse than being so excited to eat a tamale and unwrapping the little gift only to find its lifeless body. But I'm proud to say we were resourceful, hungry, poor, Catholics and so we'd drench them with ketchup, salt and vinegar and they went down just fine. Betty was none the wiser.

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