Stars To Steer By

The misadventures of a creative mind

A Time for Tamales December 9, 2014

I’ve been bad about keeping up with posting my Daring Cooks challenges on here. But they’re doing some restructuring to the group, and in the mean time all of us were given the chance to try challenges that we missed or that were posted before joining. I decided to go with an older posting challenging individuals to try making their own tamales. I love tamales, and can get them from some pretty spectacular places here, but it’s always fun to make something yourself.

Warning: This recipe takes forever. The filling I made was a slow cooker pork recipe which did take all night, but the longest parts were actually soaking the corn husks (several hours) and filling/wrapping each tamale, which takes over a hour in itself and I only made 24 or so.

Slow Cooked Pork

1 large chunk of pork shoulder
2 jalapenos
16 oz chicken stock
1/2 onion, finely chopped

Spices to taste
Chile powder
Black pepper

Put the pork in the crockpot. Rub with the spices and top with the onion/jalapeno. Pour the chicken stock over. Cook on high for 10 hours or until the meat shreds easily with a fork. Shred it all up.

Preparing the Husks and Masa Filling:

2-3 oz dried corn husks

4 cups masa harina
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/3 cup shortening
1 1/2 – 2 cups chicken broth

Immerse the corn husks in warm water and weight down (I used a bowl). Allow them to soak for 2-3 hours, until soft and pliable (mine took a little less time, but always budget extra).

In a bowl, beat together the shortening, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the masa harina. Once all the masa harina is added, add the chicken broth, starting with 1 1/2 cups. If the dough is to thick, add more liquid. You want something you can easily manipulate with your fingers and something that will squish fairly thin (think cookie dough)

Putting them together.

Take three or four of your corn husks and tear them into long 1/4 inch strips, then place these back in the water. Take a whole corn husk and lay it out flat on your work surface. Squish approximately 1/4 cup of the masa mixture into a rectangle on the corn husk. make sure the masa comes all the way up to the widest edge of the husk and that you leave at least 2 inches of space free at the bottom and a half inch on either side. Spoon some of the shredded pork down the middle of the masa, top with a little of the pork juices and roll the whole thing up. Flip the non-filled bit of corn husk up to seal the bottom and tie it in place with one of the husk strips you made earlier.

Last bit of cooking (I promise)

Stand all of your tamales upright in a steamer filled so that the water almost touches the tamales. If you don’t have enough tamales, add tinfoil to fill the gaps, just make sure they stay upright. Steam for 40 minutes – the dough should have deepened a little in color and be easy to separate from the corn husk.

What I came away with:

Tamales are good, really good. But I don’t eat them very often and I don’t have a big group of people to help me eat these so I think I’ll stick to buying mine at the farmers market. They are fun to make, and would probably be really fun if you had a bunch of friends all doing the filling/shaping together. If you try your own I do suggest saving the juices from the pork and simmering them down into a sauce – while the flavor on these tamales was wonderful they did get just a little dry.


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