16-24 dried corn husks
2 c Maseca corn meal for tamales
2c lukewarm chicken stock
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. sea salt
1 tomate con pollo bouillon cube dissolved in the chicken stock
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
2/3 c. lard (lard is best, but if you prefer use vegetable shortening)
The first order of business is soaking the dried corn husks in warm water. We found that a half sink full of hot tap water worked well, as long as we weighted the corn husks down with a dinner plate. You can let these soak for up to a few hours, but we didn’t. We let them soak for a little over an hour plus as long as it took to shred the meat, and prepare the masa. They were plenty pliable, and we didn’t have any issues with them cracking. Next to prepare the masa. In a regular bowl, combine the masa, baking powder, salt, paprika, and cayenne pepper, mixing well. Dissolve bouillon cube in warm chicken stock, and add to masa mix, working it in with your fingers to make a soft, moist dough. In your mixer, beat lard until light and fluffy, add masa and beat until the dough has a spongy texture. Now you’re ready to assemble.
The corn husks are going to be triangular in shape, you want the pointed end toward you. With a large tablespoon from your flatware, take a generous scoop of the masa mix, plop it in the middle of the husk and use the back of your spoon to smear it evenly outward toward the flat end of the husk. Take a teaspoon from the same drawer, get a generous scoop of the meat mixture and plop it in the center of the husk. Fold the pointed end up to the middle, and roll from right to left or vice versa. until you come up with the tamale shape. (Who knew this was going to be such a pain to describe? I need a crayon sketch!) Repeat until all the tamales are assembled.
Now, I believe that the easiest way to cook these would be to have a full size 6″ deep hotel pan with a 4″ perforated insert. The idea is to steam them, so a big huge steamer basket in a stock pot, or whatever fancy gadget you have available to you will work. I had none of these fancy schmancy tools at hand, so found my deepest rectangular aluminum baking dish(13×9 about 4″ deep) and rigged a cooling rack with handles into it with two 2″ ramekin bowls on the bottom. I then stacked an even layer of tamales across for weight, and added water to the halfway point up the bottom of the baking dish. At this point, I added as many tamales as was reasonable(to the top) and covered this invention with aluminum foil. I had to rig two of these devices, because this recipe makes quite a few tamales. I put them in a 400 degree oven for about an hour and a half to two hours. The easiest way to detect if they’re done is to pull one apart and check. The dough will be firm and solid to the touch. I served them with a corn salsa, guacamole, and doctored prepared re-fried beans with cheese.
I have to say this latest experiment was a huge success. It was a labor of love, but I got to spend quality time with my girl, saw looks of ecstasy on the faces of those I love the most eating them, and warmed up my belly and my soul. These are the reasons I do what I do. It’s all about the love, folks. Until next time, eat well, laugh often, be free, and be you.