Wednesday, December 21, 2011

128 Tamales Later...

About a year ago, I made a list of 30 things I want to do before I turn 30 (which is now in 2 months!)  One item on the list was to host a tamale cooking day with my girlfriends.   Monday was the day!

A few years back I was lucky enough to get a recipe from someone whose recipe came from the tamale knowledge in her head.  I know that sounds silly, but what I mean is that she knew her tamales by heart.. she didn't need a recipe so as she told me the process over the phone, I scrawled it down quickly and made my first batch of amazing tamales. 3 years later, the recipe still lives!

I pieced the recipe back together by memory, thankfully I had done this once before... but we were tripling the recipe also!  First you need to rinse and dry the corn husks...

Stephanie and I began mixing the masa and broth together, while Amanda and Laura started on the chiles. My mom weighed out 3 pounds of cheese for the masa and everyone was involved!

Breaking the cotija into the masa

After the masa, broth and cheese are mixed together, we seeded the chiles and then blended with some reserved chile water, onion, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, oregano and thyme. The recipe called for "spoonfuls" of all which was hilarious because its just kind of a guess! What type of spoon? A big or small? That is why tasting your mixtures is essential. You can always add more flavor or more chiles and spice.

Then we got the lard hot, hot, hot and added the chile mixture to thicken. Watch out for splashing lard!

Now everything was prepped and we were ready to assemble.  Lunch break!  Then we got back to work and started spreading, filling and wrapping the tamales. 

After they were wrapped and ready, we stood them in a pot with steamer and cooked for about an hour. High heat but be careful the water doesn't run out... you will end up with some burnt smoky tamales (that happened to one batch!) A trick is to put towels on top of the pots so it releases less steam. 

Exhausted but ready for this first tamale

We aimed for 75 tamales and ended up making 128!!!! Our freezers are full of tamales and we even talked about possibly making this a holiday tradition.  As Christmas approaches, I am thankful to have so many wonderful friends in my life. What are you thankful for?

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