Monday, July 18, 2011
My dear and amazing friend Fran was so sweet, she ordered a whole bunch of amazing items from Epicure for me including corn husks and Masa Harina (corn flour), on top of a tortilla press! I now had everything I needed to make my own tamales. The only problem? I knew nothing about them!
At the time all I had heard about tamales was that they were a pain to make and took a lot of time. I wanted to try one when I was at the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market but when I saw they were around $6 each... I decided to just go for it. Six bucks?! Maybe they really are that tough to make! I was about to find out...
One thing that is absolutely true about making tamales is they take time. On a dark and stormy day alone in my kitchen, I got out the Epicure corn husks and soaked some in warm water for 30 minutes.
I decided to use the recipe for tamales that came in the Epicure package, just to be safe.
While they soaked I got to work on the tamales. I decided to make half the recipe which ended up being kind of awkward and required me to wing it a lot. You can find the original recipe here. To make a full batch you want to beat together 2 cups of the Masa Harina with 1 1/2 cups of water.
You were supposed to use 2 tbsp of all these seasoning packages that I did not have so I used And Then I Ate Its taco seasoning instead. It is a great seasoning mix! I have used it in all sorts of dishes and it is very tasty.
Add 3/4 cup room temperature butter gradually, beating well as you add the butter. At this point the recipe got confusing and I just started to work intuitively. You were supposed to add 1/2 cup of Epicure's prepared bouillon but I drizzled in some chicken broth instead until it looked like a paste.
I got one of the corn husks and blotted off the water with a clean kitchen towel. This is where I got frustrated. You were supposed to scoop out 1/3 cup of the dough into the top third of the widest portion of the husk. Spread out slighting and spoon on your filling. I added some homemade refried black beans and my chorizo.
Fold corn husk in half lengthwise left to right. Then fold left outside edges to the center of the tamale. Fold up bottom third to middle. Tie using a corn husk strip... What?!
I tried. I really did but it just did not look right. There appeared to be too much filling or something. The photos in the pamphlet of how to fold the tamales were from a distance, I could not really see what to do. I watched videos on Youtube and quickly realized, everybody folds the tamales differently. Ugh!
In the end, each and every tamales ended up being folded a different way. This one was my favourite but most tamales seems to have a steam vent for the filling on top and mine was tightly folded on both sides. At this point, I didn't care and never thought I would make these again!
I steamed them for 90 minutes and just forgot about them for a while and moved on to something else. I was frustrated!
Now how are you supposed to eat them? Obviously not with the corn husks on but do you add salsa? Sour cream? Anything???!!! The recipe did not say.
These corn dumplings are not pretty but I have to admit, they are damn delicious. Definitely worth over $6 each! Reg doesn't like grainy texture and doesn't eat pork so these were all mine and suddenly, they were worth the frustration.
I had the rest for lunch the next day which was nice and bright (note difference in lighting, LOL) and decided to try them with sour cream and salsa. They were fabulous this way too!
Very hearty, fulfilling and comforting, I had never had anything quite like it before. I thoroughly enjoyed them and now that I have a better idea of how to make them, I will probably make them again!