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Sunday, February 8

Tamale Day!

I have been waiting for months and months for TAMALE DAY in Santa Rosa - it is my first time to learn how to make them!
After spending the entire day making them- I certainly have a new appreciation for them- and boy was I tired from working on them all day! WOW and I wasn't even there for making the pork or the chile sauce or the masa. The consensus of the day is that this was the last time that tamales would be made as it is just too much work. So if the tradition dies- I think that I could make them myself again. Thank you for the lesson!

45 dozen tamales! The reward was sitting and having a great glass of wine with a plate of tamales and beans and rice.

Just a little rough lesson on how it is all done (from my notes and questions to the experts making them for years and years).
(Keep in mind that this was to make 45 dozen tamales!)

PORK SHOULDER- boneless- 60 pounds (yes that is a zero after that 6)
cut the pork into cube like pieces (dice size) cutting off larger chunks of the fat- but important to keep some on for flavor.
This was all then added to large stock pots (4!!!) and covered with water- adding salt and cooked for around 1.5 hours.

MASA- I hope that I get this part correct. (65 lbs of this) You don't want the fina masa (which is too powder like)- but the broken/coarse (QUEBRADA)- which is mixed with lard and salt. When starting to make them the mixture was too thick so we added some of the pork broth to loosen the mixture up.

(I was told that the rough ratio was 1lb of masa to 1lb of meat)

HUSKS- 6lbs (now these don't weigh anything so you are talking hundreds and hundreds)- these are then soaked in hot water for around 10 minutes. (you can't really soak them too long)

RED CHILE sauce- removing all of the seeds, web and stem of the chiles (these are California red chiles- dried)- soak in water and simmer until soft. In batches- blend adding a bit of the water (water you used to soak them)- then the blended chile mixture goes through a sieve or food mill (or you could try a food processor). Ratio is then 1 cup of the chile puree and then add 1 cup of water- add minced garlic (fresh)- cumin powder and salt. Then making a mixture of oil or lard (gasp!) mix flour (sort of like making a roux)- and browning- add the sauce.

The masa mixture is spread with a light layer of the masa mixture on the rough side of the moistened husk (I have to say that for me this was the most difficult part of the process as the masa kept sticking to the spoon or it would be too thick of a layer- I even got yelled at a few times for that!).
Adding the pork and the sauce was more my talent and then rolling the tamales tightly. I'm proud of my accomplishment as it is an honor to be allowed to roll by Grandma.

When you are done making them, they just get frozen and not cooked. They can last in the freezer for up to a year.
When ready don't thaw- steam them (60 minutes) not stacking them right on top of each other but more in a staggered crisscross pattern to steam evenly. A damp kitchen towel on top will also keep them from getting dry.

YUM YUM! I had never had homemade tamales and I think that there is nothing that can come close. I am ruined for life - homemade tamales for me from now on. I think that maybe a smaller batch if I try to make them myself.

For anyone interested in how much this costs-this year it equaled to $6.75 per dozen (and was more expensive per dozen in previous years). It all gets split up and how I have 6 dozen in my freezer! Come over anytime for dinner...


Pigtown-Design said...

OMG! 45 dozen? Are you serious? Tamales are not very common around this part of the mid-Atlantic, but when you can find them, it's a good day!

Meg said...

Those look incredible! I would very much like to have a few dozen in my freezer- thanks for sharing!

sharon said...

glad to see you getting your hands dirty in the kitchen with the ladies - fantastic!

The Peak of Chic said...

You're one hot tamale Grant!! ;)


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