Food, Mexican food, Recipes

TAMALES

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On January 5th we got together and baked a “Rosca de Reyes”. It’s a huge round cake made out of soft, white dough and decorated with various things. In Finland we have a very similar version called “pullapitko”. Then, on January 6th, we celebrated “Dia de Reyes”, on this day people traditionally invite their friends and family (or whoever you like) to eat the “Rosca”. The trick is that you hide little figurines, which are supposed to resemble Baby Jesus, inside the “Rosca” and the person who finds them has to prepare “Tamales” on the 2nd of February. The superstitious believe that these figurines will bring you luck if you find them, which I hope it’s true because me and my boyfriend found ALL of them. So it was obvious that we had to prepare “Tamales” for everyone.

Mexicans eat “Tamales” during the whole year and it’s a very typical Mexican dish, especially for breakfast. You can prepare them in many ways but the typical ones are “mole” and “salsa verde”. “Tamales” are definitely not fast food and it takes quite a while to prepare them but it’s definitely worth it. The best way to prepare “Tamales” is to invite your friends over and prepare it together while listening to some good tracks. 🙂

INGREDIENTS (for 20 medium sized “Tamales”)

For the chicken

  • 500 grams of chicken breast
  • 1/2 of a medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 5 cups of water
  • 3 cubes of chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A hint of olive oil

For the “Salsa Verde”

  • 32 whole “Tomatillos” they can either be fresh or from a can. (we used La Costeña brand)
  • 1/2 of a medium onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 10 chiles anchos (you can also use jalapenos or serranos)
  • Maggi seasoning sauce to taste (optional)
  • 1 cube of vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the “Mole”

  • 1 jar of Dona Maria Mole Original (Mole paste)
  • 3 cups of chicken broth (approximately)

For the dough

  • 600 grams of “Masa nixtamalizada” or Maseca flour
  • 125 grams of lard (pig fat)
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 teaspoons of salt

+ corn husks to wrap the “Tamales”

For the beans (side dish)

  • 1 jar (400 grams) of precooked red beans
  • 1/4 of a small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 pinch of oregano
  • Maggi seasoning sauce to taste (optional)
  • 1 cube of vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of water

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We’ll start off with the chicken, pour five cups of water in a pot and add the broth, chicken, onion and garlic cloves, set the burner to maximum heat. Once it boils bring the heat down to medium and continue boiling for 30 minutes.

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While the chicken is boiling prepare the “salsa verde”. Put the chiles, onion and garlic on a pan and grill over medium heat, chiles are usually done pretty quickly so remove them after a minute or so, it’s important that they don’t get burnt. The onion and the garlic should be left until charred (partially burned).

We used whole canned “Tomatillos” so there was no need to grill them, however, if you get fresh ones remove the outer coating, wash thoroughly and grill them along with the other ingredients. Another thing worth mentioning is that if you don’t tolerate spicy food you should only add one or two chiles, the ten chiles that we added gave it moderately spicy taste.

Proceed to put everything in a blender along with the cube of vegetable broth, a hint of Maggi sauce, salt and pepper (to taste). BOOM your salsa is ready!

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By this point your chicken is probably ready, so now you need to shred it using two forks as you can see in the picture above. Save the broth you cooked the chicken in.

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In order to speed up the whole process you can start rinsing the corn husks (these take around 15 to 20 minutes to be ready), it is necessary to leave them in a pot with water so that they are soft enough for the creation of the “Tamales”.

This was the easiest part. Since “Mole” is very difficult to make from scratch, we bought this mole paste and dissolved the whole jar with around 2 to 3 cups of the chicken broth we had left. Make sure that the consistency of the “Mole” is similar to Nutella except not as sticky.

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This is the “Masa nixtamalizada” it is very important that you get this type of dough or Maseca corn flour for the “Tamales” because otherwise you won’t get to taste the authentic flavors (and probably the “Tamales” will be ruined!).

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Slowly add 3/4 of a cup of water to your “masa” or Maseca corn flour until you get a soft consistency, if necessary add more water but make sure that the mixture is not too watery.

Use an electric mixer to beat the lard until it looks like the picture above. It must not be too liquid but also not very thick. This took around 15 minutes set to maximum power.

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Now you can add the “masa”, two teaspoons of baking powder and salt to the lard. If you are using a mixer like the one we used, proceed to beat everything for 45 minutes. If you have a more powerful one it might take around 30 minutes. Our mixer was heating up constantly so be careful not to wreck your equipment. 😀

You will know the dough is ready once you place a small chunk of it in a glass with water and it floats.

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Once your corn husks are soft take them out of the water and separate them. You are finally ready to assemble your “Tamales”!

Fill the corn husks just like the pictures above and after you have closed the “Tamal” grab the top of the husk with both of your hands using your thumb and your index fingers, then pull down with one hand while you hold the top with your other hand to make the inside a bit tighter.

Finally fold the top under the “Tamal” so that it’s nicely sealed. You can see in the second picture above how the “Tamal” on the right side is properly closed. If the husk is too small or you have trouble closing it you can use two husks so that the filling stays inside the “Tamal”. We were making two “Salsa verde tamales” per each “Mole tamal” since in general people love them more but make them any way you like. 😀

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We put in these coins in order to know if there is water left in the pot. If the coins make a lot of noise it means that you have to add more water. This is an old school Mexican trick. 😉

Ideally you have to place the “Tamales” vertically so that they cook in a more effective way but we didn’t have that much space in this pot so a larger pot is recommended. In our case we had to steam the “Tamales” for 1 hour 30 minutes in order to get the perfect consistency.

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MMMM…. Tamales….

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While your delicious “Tamales” are cooking you can make “Frijoles” as a side dish, these are traditional Mexican beans (people in Mexico eat them with almost everything). First you need to wash your precooked beans really well, be sure not to use raw beans because otherwise they will take forever to prepare. Next, put some oil in a pot and add your chopped onion and garlic, once they are golden brown add your beans, water, oregano, salt and pepper and bring to boil. Then, after it boils, switch to medium heat and let them boil until 1/2 of the liquid has consumed.

At that point you can mash your beans or use the hand blender if you are feeling kind of lazy after all this work (we were already a bit tired). 😀

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Taking the “Tamales” out of the pot.

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Time to enjoy!

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The “Tamales” were amazing. It was a lot of fun to cook them but also hard work. We had the pleasure of sharing the “Tamales” with an international group of people and it was nice to see that everybody loved them. Special thanks to Fercho and Rafael for making this possible. 🙂

So if you want to challenge yourself in the kitchen, impress someone with your cooking skills AND enjoy an exotic meal, “Tamales” are the perfect choice for you. Also it’s nice to get together, cook and try something new with your friends or family. The only problem we had was that we should’ve cooked more since they were so successful!

I’ve included below the original recipe that helped us through this whole process (video in Spanish).

– Eeva –

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7 thoughts on “TAMALES

  1. Roger says:

    Thank you Bucio, Eeeva and Fercho for this amazing experience. If you had luck during the Rosca’s Day, I can assure that I am luckier for having friends like you. To be continued!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: MOLLETES | holaeeva

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