Monday, December 31, 2007


Hola, Mi Amigos, Feliz Navidad!

I teach ESL classes part-time to Hispanic mothers, most of who are from Mexico. One of my students, Ana offered to teach me how to make tamales. I've always loved tamales and have been dying to learn how to make them.


Here's Ana and her ninos at Rancho Market!

FIRST STEP: Buy ingredients to make Chile Verde. When doing this, pick the smallest tomatillos (the flavor is better this way :) Fill up a bag of Tomatillos

FYI- Nicknames for the loveable tomatillo: husk tomato, jamberry, husk cherry, Mexican tomato, or ground cherry

Grab a stash of Serrano peppers (about a 1/3 bag.)

The next step is to mix the masa (corn flour) with pork lard. Ana did this before I showed up. She said that she took a pork roast and cut all the fat off, then boiled it down. She took the fat from the pan and mized it with the masa to make this:

If you want to spare yourself the hardship of deflabbing and boiling a chunk of dead pig, you can use shortening and chicken broth... which is what some friends and I used a few days ago. Or better yet, coconut oil and chicken broth.

About 4 cups of masa to 1 1/3 cups shortening, 2 cups of chicken broth..... feel free to look up an official recipe

It's important to let this mixture sit for a few hours until the dough is firm, or Ana says, when you slap it with your hand, it doesn't stick but makes a sound almost like patting a blob of Silly Putty. (You can even play drums on the masa if you feel inclined.)

This is Andrea (another student) and her mother from Ecuador who also came to learn to make tamales.

1. Soak the tomatillos in water which allows the papery wrapper to comes off easier.
2. Then cut up the serrano peppers
3. Boil the peppers and tomatillos for at least 1/2 an hour until both are soft


4. WHEN THE TOMATILLOS AND SERRANOS ARE SOFT, it's time to put the chile verde sauce together. The next step is to blend a bunch of cilantro, salt, about 6-8 cloves of garlic and 1/2 an onion

5. ADD THE TOMATILLOS AND SERRANOS TO THE BLENDED MIXTURE to get this lovely green sauce that's also great as salsa!

6. Next, take the corn husks (you can buy them by the bag at the market) and soak them in water.

When they are soft, you are ready to slap a large spoonful of masa on the bottom edge of the corn husk. The amount you put in the tamale is your preference. Some families put more, some less. Some regions in Mexico roll the tamale differently. Ana says use only about 1 1/2 tablespoon full. Spread it out.

1. Add sauce to the masa. In the photo, I am adding a spoonful of mole, which we bought in a bottle at the market. We also made several with the chile verde sauce that we made above.
2. Add chicken (boiled chicken breast meat.)
3. Fold the top part of the corn husk down, then fold over the sides like the photo shows.

Next, stack all the tamales vertical in a large double boiler (Ana used a huge pot with water in the bottom. She stacked a metal pot lid unside down in the bottom of the pot and placed the tamales on the lid.) Then cover the pot and cook for about an hour until the masa in the tamales no longer sticks!

WATCH OUT the finished tamales will be very hot!! But sooo heavenly delicious~

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