Posted By: oldbay 
Jul 13  # 1 of 14
Anyone have a real tamale recipe? I've ate some nice tamales on visits to California, and had a friend here that made some but they moved (and I didn't think about getting the recipe). I hear they're a lot of work to make, and if that is true, I would probably make a few to freeze to make it worthwhile.
 Posted By: Mama Mangia 
Jul 14  # 2 of 14
A woman I worked with made them all the time (she is from Mexico) and I have several recipes. I will post the Beef Tamales here and if you want others just let me know - this is lenghty.

Masa (Dough for tortillas and tamales)
The process of making masa. The masa can then be used for corn tortillas or for tamales.

The slaked corn (Nixtamal) can be used for making pozole (hominy).
Makes: 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds

i n g r e d i e n t s
1 1/2 pounds (1 quart) dried white field corn
2 tablespoons "cal" slaked lime

d i r e c t i o n s

Clean the corn
Place the corn in a colander and rinse under cold water.

Prepare the lime mixture
Add 2 quarts of water to a large (at least 4 quart) noncorrosive pan. Place the pan over high heat and add the lime (cal) and stir until it is dissolved.

slaked lime (cal)

Boil the corn
Add the corn into the lime water, stirring gently. Use a slotted spoon and remove any kernels that float to the top of the water. Allow the water to boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. If you are making the dough for tortillas, allow to boil 2 minutes. If you are making tamale dough simmer for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the corn to soak. For tortilla dough allow to soak, covered, overnight. For tamale dough, allow to soak for an hour.

Wash the corn
This step is very important. If you don't rinse and clean the corn properly your dough will be yellow and taste like lime.
Pour the corn into a colander and place it under cold running water. Use both your hands and rub the corn between your hands to loosen any hulls still attached to the corn.

Continue until the corn is all white (except the tips). Drain the corn well. This cleaned, prepared corn is what is called "Nixtamal" or "Nixtamalado".

nixtamal - cleaned, damp corn

You will see the little brown "heads" left on the corn. If you are making Pozole and you want the kernels to open (flower) then you need to "de-head" the kernals. De-heading simply means to pick off those little tips. This rather time-consuming step is optional and does not affect the flavor of the pozole, just the appearance.

The traditional tool for grinding the nixtamal is the metate y mano. If you are an adventurous cook and don't mind a good work out then you'll enjoy using the metate. Depending on the size of your metate, place a handful or two of corn on the top surface. Use downward pressure on the mano and roll across the corn (like a rolling pin). Continue until the corn becomes finely pulverized. Repeat until all the corn has been ground.

Plate-Style Corn Mill (Molino)
While this is less labor intensive than the metate the corn mill requires significant effort. Use the corn mill fitted with a stone plate. The stone plate, rather than a metal plate will produce the smoothest textured dough. Place the corn in the hopper and grind it through using the finest setting. The resulting mixture should be smooth and not gritty.

Once the corn is all ground add approximate 2/3 to 3/4 cup of water to the corn and mix to form medium-soft dough.

You can use your food processor to prepare the dough for tamales but it does not get quite fine enough for tortilla dough. Grind the corn in small batches, pulsing the corn 5 or 6 times. Then let the processor run continuously until the corn is the proper consistency.

Spread the drained corn onto a towel and pat dry with another towel. Use either of the tools described above and grind the dried corn. If you are using the plate-style grinder, use the medium or medium-fine setting. The ground corn should be a consistency of damp hominy grits. Add approximately 2/3 cups water to form a stiff dough.

Beef Tamales
Yield: 25 tamales

i n g r e d i e n t s
2 pounds beef shoulder roast
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 onions, peeled and sliced
1 garlic bulb, cloves removed and peeled
4 ounces dried New Mexico chilies
2 ounces ancho chiles
2 ounces pasilla chiles
2 tablespoons cumin seed, toasted
1 tablespoons salt
2 bags dried corn husks, about 3 dozen
4 cups masa mix for tamales
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups reserved beef broth, warm
1 cup vegetable shortening

Beef; Season the beef shoulder all over with salt and pepper then brown in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Once browned on all sides, add enough water to cover the roast along with the 1 sliced onion and about 6 cloves of garlic.

Cook until the meat is fork tender and comes apart with no resistance, about 2 hours. When done, remove the roast to a platter to cool, reserve the beef broth. Hand shred the meat and set aside.

Sauce; To prepare the sauce, remove the tops of the dried chilies and shake out most of the seeds. Place the chilies in a large stockpot and cover them with water. Add the cumin, remaining sliced onion and garlic. Boil for 20 minutes until the chiles are very soft. Transfer the chiles to a blender using tongs and add a ladle full of the chile water (it is best to do this in batches.) Puree the chiles until smooth. Pass the pureed chiles through a strainer to remove the remaining seeds and skins. Pour the chili sauce into a large bowl and add salt, stir to incorporate. Taste to check seasonings, add more if necessary. Add the shredded beef to the bowl of chili sauce, and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Husks; go through the husks and sort by size and remove any silks or debris. Soak the corn husks in your sink filled with warm water until soft, about 30 minutes. (You can also soak husks in large bowls of water if you are not doing a lot of tamales).

Masa; In a deep bowl, combine the masa, baking powder, and salt. Pour the broth into the masa a little at a time, working it in with your fingers. In a small bowl, beat the vegetable shortening until fluffy. Add it to the masa and beat until the dough has a spongy texture.

Drain Husks; Rinse, drain, and dry the corn husks. Set them out on a sheet pan covered by a damp towel along with the bowls of masa dough and beef in chili sauce.

Spread Masa; Start with the largest husks because they are easier to roll. Lay the husk flat on a plate or in your hand with the smooth side up and the narrow end facing you. Spread a thin, even layer of masa over the surface of the husk with a tablespoon dipped in water. The easiest method of spreading masa is with a masa spreader. Do not use too much, keep the masa thin.

Add about a tablespoon of the meat filling in the center of the masa. Fold the narrow end up to the center then fold both sides together to enclose the filling. The sticky masa will form a seal. Pinch the wide top closed.

Fold; the sides of the corn husk to center over the masa so that they overlap to make a long package. Fold the empty part of the husk under so that it rest against the side of the tamale with a seam.

Steam; Place the tamales in a steamer and cook tamales for 2 hours. Check every 20 minutes. Do not let the water boil away. The tamale is cooked when it separates easily from the corn husk.

Serve; Unfold the husk and spoon about a tablespoon of remaining beef filling on top.
 Posted By: oldbay 
Jul 14  # 3 of 14
I'll need to digest the whole recipe a little bit before I understand the whole thing. :)

Is there a reason to use dried corn husks, and the soak them vs buying the currently in season corn, and using fresh husks? I looked in the local stores today for corn husks and none were to be found. So, I bought some local corn thinking I could dry time. But it doesn't make sense to me to dry the husks to soak them agin unless that does something.

I now understand a previous post on tamales. I had some wonderfully large tamales as a kid and I think they were made with banana leaves as a corn husk can only be so large. The tamales I remember and would love to reproduce were about 3 1/2" in diameter. Cornhusk tamales can't be large than an inch or inch and a half in diameter.

The do seem similar in the work required to make spring rolls, or egg rolls, and it seems a bunch would be frozen for later use.
 Posted By: Mama Mangia 
Jul 14  # 4 of 14
I guess by washing and drying the corn husks they are being preserved for later use; then soaked to use. Banana leaves would be great for large tamales. I have recipes for pork, etc. and also dessert tamales if you would like. they are a lot of work - but they sure are good!!
 Posted By: oldbay 
Jul 15  # 5 of 14
I made tamales tonight. Actually it took most of the day to cook the meat. I adapted to the suggestions here and what was on the bag of corn meal.

So I cut up a 3 pound pork butt roast, tossing any fat in the waste bin. I cut the pork with a cleaver into 3 inch chunks and tossed them into a crock pot. On top of that I threw in 1 1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs. I chopped up half an onion fine, added it along with 1 tsp of prepared chopped garlic, and 1 tsp cumin seed. Added water to cover the meat, and then cranked up the heat on the crock pot to high. Once it began to boil, I set the heat to medium and let simmer for 4 hours.

I couldn't find dried corn husks, so I used fresh ones. I went to the grocery store and bought the larges pieces of corn I could find. In fact there was a basket next to the corn full of husks from the produce guy, but I couldn't figure out a way to explain I wanted only the husks :)

After doing a couple ears of corn, I found the easiest way to get the husks off the corn without ripping them was to chop the ear at either end of the ear. You won't get extremely large husks this way, but they will peel right off without any ripping. Almost as easy as getting aluminum foil from the roll.

Once the meat was cooked, I drained the water and ripped the meat by hand into small strips. I know it sounds hard, but it only took a few minutes.

I then placed 1/3 cup of olive oil in a pan, added 2 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp ground black pepper, 2 tbsp ground cumin, and turned on the heat just to warm the pan. Mix this by hand into the meat mixture for a few minutes.

As for the corn filling, I combined 6 cups of corn meal with 6 cups of cold water and 3 tsp baking powder. I whipped up 3 sticks of butter and then whipped the butter into the corn meal mix.

Assembling the tamales was hard at first since I never had done it before. Basically, take a corn husk, and coat it with the corn meal mix. Spread 1 1/2 tbsp of the meat mix over the corn meal, and roll up the husk, Tuck one end of the husk, and place in a steamer. I used a 4 layer Oriental bamboo steam I had on hand. After you do a few, it makes sense. Don't expect to be a pro on the first dozen you do.

Once I filled up the steamer, I cooked the tamales for 1 1/2 hours over steam, adding water ever 15 minutes so the pot (in my case wok) didn't dry out.

These tamales came out tasting very good, and was impresed how well they came out for the novice, me :)