May 14, 2014

Homemade Tamales

Did you know that the singular form of tamales is tamal? Now you'll never order a tamale again. You're welcome.

Homemade Tamales

Yield: 48-60 tamales
  • 1/8 cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 lbs cooked meat
  • 4 to 5 dozen dried corn husks
  • 2 lbs masa (yellow cornmeal)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 7 1/2 oz (about 1 cup) lard
  • 3 to 4 cups liquid
Cooking Directions
    For the meat:
  1. In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, kosher salt, paprika, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper and cumin.
  2. Mix onto whatever cooked meat filling you already have.

    For the wrappers:
  3. Place the husks in a large bowl or container and submerge completely in hot water. Soak the husks until they are soft and pliable, at least 45 minutes and up to 2 hours.

    For the dough:
  4. Place the cornmeal, salt, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and combine. Add the lard and, using your hands, knead together until the lard is well incorporated into the dry mixture. Gradually add enough of the reserved liquid, 3 to 4 cups, to create a dough that is like thick mashed potatoes. The dough should be moist but not wet. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and set aside until ready to use.

    To assemble the tamales:
  5. Remove a corn husks from the water and pat dry to remove excess water. Working in batches of 6, lay the husks on a towel and spread about 2 tablespoons of the dough in an even layer across the wide end of the husk to within 1/2-inch of the edges. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture in a line down the center of the dough. Roll the husk so the dough surrounds the meat, then fold the bottom under to finish creating the tamale. Repeat until all husks, dough, and filling are used. Optionally, tie the tamales, around the center, individually or in groups of 3, with kitchen twine.

    To cook the tamales:
  6. Stand the tamales upright on their folded ends, tightly packed together on a steamer in a large pot. Add enough water so the liquid comes almost to the bottom of the tamales. Try not to pour the broth directly into the tops of the tamales. Cover, place over high heat and bring to a boil. Remove the lid, reduce the heat to low to maintain a low simmer, and cook until the dough is firm and pulls away easily from the husk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Serve the tamales warm. For a 'wet' hot tamale, serve with additional simmering liquid. Store leftover tamales tightly wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer. To reheat, remove the plastic wrap and steam until heated through.
  8. Leftover masa can be stored in the freezer as well.
Based on Alton Brown's recipe.

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