Saturday, August 9, 2008


The dogs and I are the only ones in town this week, so my dinners haven't been more ambitious than a salad + grilled cheese. Nothing interesting there! So I will post something from earlier in the summer - a family favorite that's a bit more elaborate. The effort is totally worth it!

Whenever my daughter A.L.E. (she's the one in the blog banner, above) is in town, we make a point to cook tamales. Last time we had daughter J.D.E. and her friend G. cooking along with us!

Most of the ingredients are available at nearby supermarkets, but the good folk at will set you up with everything you need - including the steamer - and deliver it all right to your door. (You can even order a tamale kit.) They also have a great recipe for Chicken Tamales (basic dough and a delicious salsa verde chicken filling) that uses oil rather than the traditional lard.

This chicken filling is the one we make most often, but the basic tamale dough can be combined with lots of other fillings. We've even used our Thanksgiving turkey leftovers to make fabulous turkey tamales (recipe at the end of this post).

It takes a little while to get the hang of wrapping the tamales, but a quick internet search (thanks, Google!) will lead you to detailed instructions, like these, or these (with step by step pictures). We've tied our tamales with kitchen twine, but I prefer to make little ties out of strips of the corn husks.

You don't need a special tamale steamer (although I love mine) - any steamer/rack will work. If you end up with extra husks, you can spread them on a tray to dry out, then store them, and re-soften them the next time. The tamales freeze beautifully and can be re-steamed to heat (or you can pop them in the microwave).

Beef or Turkey Filling for Tamales
(recipe from a email - can't find a link online)

1 large package corn husks - about 24
4 lb Chuck Roast (or substitute with cooked turkey leftovers)
4 cups water (if cooking the beef, if using turkey leftovers, have some stock or broth available)
10 dried red Poblano chile peppers
1/4 cup ground cumin
1/4 cup pepper
4 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ cup salt (this was way too much salt for the turkey)

1. Early in the morning, place the roast and water into a large pot or crockpot and slow cook four to six hours, or until it shreds easily with a fork. Remove the meat from pot. Place in large bowl, add salt and shred, reserving broth for the masa and the filling.

2. Remove the seeds (using gloves so you don't burn your eyes!) and stems from chiles. Boil in a pan with one cup water for about five minutes. Transfer chiles to food processor and add cumin, pepper, garlic and enough of the chile broth to make a paste when all spices are blended together.

3. Add spice paste to shredded beef or turkey and mix thoroughly. Add as much of the remaining broth as necessary to make a delicately moist, but not watery filling.



Lynne Daley said...

You are very brave to make tamales. Great looking tamales.

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