Midwinter Traditions; Homegrown Tamales
Midwinter Traditions;Homegrown Tamales
Every year my family and I gather round to grind homegrown corn, pick the best looking corn husks, make masa, and fill and wrap the tamales to make these tasty little bundles. Making tamales is an annual tradition in our family for our midwinter celebrations. This year some friends came and joined in on making of the tamal; many hands make light work. There are lots of little steps to making the tamales so it helps to have lots of people to make it fun!
It feels so rewarding to cook and eat food that we grow and knowing that the many prayers which have gone into the plants nourishes our bodies. Food is medicine. This round of tamales we used our Pueblo blue and white concho corn. It makes delightfully fluffy and tender tamale and tortilla dough. We don’t make them often but when we do they are a special treat! The flavor of tamales will forever remind me of cold weather, family time, and lots of laughter!
1 1/3 cup pork lard or vegetable shortening, room temperature
2 tsp salt
11/2 tsp baking powder
4 cups fresh coarse ground corn masa or 3 ½ cups dried masa harina mixed with 2 ¼ cups hot water ( we use a estrella mill to grind our fresh masa, see cook’s notes for videos)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 1/2 to 3 cups filling filling, such as beans, shredded chicken, squash, cheese, pork, beef, sauteed vegetables, green or red chile, etc
Cleaned corn husks
With an electric mixer on med-high speed, beat lard/shortening, salt, and baking powder until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Continue beating as you add the masa, reduce the speed to med-low and add the stock. Continue beating for another 1-2 minutes or so. Let sit at room temperature for about an hour. Soak corn husks for 20-30 minutes in warm water until soft and tear some of the smaller husks into thin strips to use as ties. Place a steaming basket or metal colander in a pot filled with 3 inches of water and bring to a boil. Place a large spoonful of the masa dough and spread on the husk, put about 1 tablespoon of filling on top of the dough. Wrap the sides in so that the filling is completely covered in the dough and wrap the bottom and top up to form a little bundle and tie with 2 thin strips to keep it closed. Put the tamales into the steamer so they are standing up and cover, steam for 35-45 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!
Use big corn husks so you do not have any leaking
You can buy corn husks at Mexican markets or use the corn husks if you grow corn
Make sure your filling is not too wet or your tamales will leak
Delicious when served with grated cheese, lime, cilantro, or chile! We also love to make a homemade red chili sauce!
Videos my mom made on how to make hominy for the masa and how to grind it for the tamale dough:
Homemade Red Chile
3 guajillo chiles, dried
3 pasilla chiles, dried
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Cut a slit in the side of the chile with a paring knife, remove seeds, stem and veins. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Flatten out the dry chiles as well as you can on the heat, press down on the open chiles and leave for a few seconds. Toast the chiles on both sides; but don’t let burn. Place chiles in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes until the chiles have become soft and plump. Reserve the soaking water, remove the chiles and place in a blender. Add garlic, salt, and 1 1/2 cups soaking water (taste the soaking water first if it tastes bitter just use plain water). Puree for 2 minutes, until the sauce is smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Pour sauce through a sieve into a skillet, add the olive oil. Bring to simmer and reduce heat to maintain the simmer, cook for 10 minutes or as long as needed to thicken the sauce. Enjoy!
The flavor of the dried chiles leaves a nice smoky flavor for this red chile sauce. This is a delightful compliment for the tamale recipe posted below. This also makes a wonderful enchilada sauce.
Always wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap after touching chiles, don’t rub your face with chile on your hands.
You can add a few of the chile seeds when you blend if you want more heat.
Go over to the recipe section and find our tamale recipe. If you decide to make these, don’t forget to use the hashtag #nativehearth so I can see your creations! If you make any of these recipes post a picture on social media with the hashtag #nativehearth We are thinking of hosting a couple of tamale making workshops at our farm, so let me know in the comments if you would be interested in coming! Also I am working this spring to launch my YouTube channel, so this could be one of my videos, I will keep you posted. Please let me know what you might want to see featured there! Come visit my blog NATIVE HEARTH for more recipes like these!