Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Smell of Christmas

Corn husks soaking in hot water
Grinding spices together, but you can use bottled spices as well
Add meat on edge and roll
Make sure the roll is tight
Fold over the end to close
Finished product and ready to be cooked

For the past 74 years, it has been tradition for my beloved grandmother to make tamales for Christmas. She passed that tradition on to my mother, and now that I have a family, I tend to keep the tradition alive. A few days ago my abuelita came over to show me the magic of making Christmas tamales. She originally makes them from scratch, but that is very time consuming. Since I don't have a full day to spare we went the easier route, which is more feasible for me.

Texas Christmas Tamales:

  • Purchase "Ready to Go" Masa from your local grocery store. We purchased 14 lbs. of masa, which in theory should produce 14 dozen tamales. Store in refrigerator until you are ready to use. Take out about 30 minutes before you start making the tamales {The HEB grocery store here in Texas carried it, however definitely call beforehand to make sure - or try a Mexican-American store in your local city}
  • Decide on a filling. We used 8 lbs. of beef chuck roast {you can use anything from pork, beans, turkey, etc.}. Place in a slow cooker until tender, making sure there is enough liquid covering the meat so that it won't dry out.
  • When the meat is cooked, place it in a large container, peel away the fat, and pull the meat with a fork or knife {it's faster to do by hand}
  • Add spices: black pepper, 1 garlic bulb minced, chili powder, cumin, salt, and smoked paprika {there are no measurements because we do it "to taste". I added smoked paprika to the mix and thought it added a little flare. Play around with the spices depending on your preferences}
  • You will also need corn husks. We got 4 bags {quantity was not specified on the bag} and had plenty left over. Separate the corn husks and soak them in hot water for about 4 hours to soften.
Putting tamales together:
  • Grab your corn husks. Use the back of a spoon and spread the masa on the smooth side of corn husk {start about half way and spread down to the wider side of the husk}. Grab the meat with your fingertips and place it on one edge of the husk, then roll. Fold the remaining part of the husk up to close.
  • Place tamales standing upright in a steamer, cover, and cook for about an hour. If the masa sticks to the corn husk they need to be cooked a little longer. Once they aren't sticking, they are ready to eat! Unroll the tamale from the husk and devour away.
Feliz Navidad!

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