I couldn't get through this Mexican challenge without sharing my favorite Mexican dish. I love tamales! Any kind really (I don't even need sauce). Well, sometimes it is hard to find a nice moist tamale that doesn't require sauce. However, last October, I befriended a wonderful lady (Isabelle) from Mexico who, each week of that month, taught me how to make everything she made (In Spanish no doubt). Even with the fair amount of Spanish I learned during college, I felt a little overwhelmed. She didn't give measurements, she just talked me though each recipe while I hesitantly wrote it all down to the best of my knowledge. You know, after a while that overwhelming feeling went away and we just had a blast that whole month. These delicious dishes are now ingrained in my head and I never did figure out where my notes went. The relevance of this story was to say that my friend made the best tamales (they never required a sauce, they were so moist). Plus they are so easy to make, that I have to refrain from making them all the time.
Masa Dough and Corn Husks
Masa Flour- about 6 rounded cups
Canola Oil- about 2-3 cups
Salt- about 3-4 Tablespoons
Warm Water- about 2-3 cups
1 package of corn husks (although you won't be needing the whole package).
In your electric mixture, combine Masa Dough ingredients until well mixed. It should be a soft as cookie dough but easy to spread. Test a little on a corn husk to make sure it spreads easily. Keep adding a little oil, warm water, and salt if it is too firm. Always taste it as you go so that you don't add too much salt or oil.
Wash your corn husks under some really warm water as you separate them.
If you don't have a tamale pot (which is like an upside down steamer) then you can assemble one like I have done. I took a steaming tray and turned it upside down in a larger stock pot (you should have a steam tray that goes around the whole bottom of the pot, but this is all I had and it works fine). Fill with water just as high as your steam tray. (Remember this steam tray needs to be tall enough to keep the aluminum from filling up with water while it boils but not too tall that the tamales are sticking out of the stock pot). If you need to, take an old 8 inch round cake pan and poke holes in it and turn it upside down). Place a couple of sheets of tin foil inside the stock pot to place your tamales in. How it works is the steam will build up around the tin foil and then be pushed back down from the lid onto the tamales (So make sure you don't leave your tin foil wrapped around the rim of the pot when you put the lid on).
Assembling your tamales
Spread out a damp corn husk along your fingers and palm of your hand.
Spread some masa dough with a rubber spatula upwards in a fan shape from end to end.
Only spread dough on the upper half of the husk because you don't need dough in the tail end.
Spread your favorite meat concoction or cheese in the middle.
You need it in the middle so you can fold the sides over it and each other.
This picture shows my slow cooked shredded chicken marinated in a homemade enchilada sauce.
Fold sides over each other and then fold the tail end up.
Place upwards in the foil pit until completely full. They can all fit really snug so, when you think there is no more room, there usually is.
Cook on high until you hear boiling and then control heat to maintain a low boil for 60-90 minutes. Check at 60 min by taking a whole tamale out and open it to see if it is still doughy. Do not over cook because they will dry out. If you need to, cook at a lower temp for longer time.
Just remember they will appear doughy so you need to actually break one open to test it.
You can serve them with cheese on top and a good red sauce.
For a good Mexican Sauce, click here.