It's that time of year again, my friends. I've had several requests for my tamale recipe so I thought I'd put it up here for all the world to see :) For those of you not accustomed to Guatemalan traditions yet, tamales are traditionally served on Christmas Eve (at midnight!) with a cup of hot chocolate and a slice or two of crusty bread.
This recipe is a combination of three recipes - one part from our housekeeper in Guatemala, one part from the book "Favorite Recipes From Guatemala", and one part from the Maseca recipe on the bag of masa mix. I tried to keep it simple but authentic and delicious. I hope you enjoy them!
4 lbs of tomatoes
1/4 lb tomatillos
6 red bell peppers
4 chile guaques (can substitute chile guajillos)
1/4 tsp achiote (annatto)
3-6 tablespoons of lard or shortening
Place all vegetables and chiles in water and bring to a boil, then simmer for thirty minutes. Then take the vegetables out, strain, and add to blender. Puree. Add 3 tablespoons of lard or shortening to a large pot, heat over medium heat until melted. Pour in vegetable puree and cook over medium heat for fifteen minutes. If your sauce is not very red and you would like it redder, add the achiote. Salt to taste. Also add additional lard or shortening to taste. Can be prepared a day in advance.
4 lbs banana leaves frozen or 14 fresh banana leaves (can substitute foil if you cannot find banana leaves)
3 lbs raw chicken, turkey, or pork
2 red bell peppers, sliced
(instructions on the bag of Maseca for Tamales)
2 cups maseca (corn flour)
2 cups broth
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cups lard or shortening
This dough recipe is only a partial recipe, taken directly from the Maseca bag. You must increase it depending on how many tamales you would like to make. I lost count of exactly how many times I made this recipe! It takes exactly one bag to make enough tamales for the above sauce recipe, but I don't remember how many cups are in the bag- sorry!
Put corn flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Mix well. Beat lard or shortening until fluffy. Add dry mixture to lard, add broth, and mix with your hands to remove any lumps. Then beat until the dough is a spongy texture. Chill for at least an hour.
Prepare your banana leaves by tearing into 12" squares and placing in hot water for ten minutes to soften them.
To assemble the tamales:
Place two leaf squares in front of you, smooth side up. Put one cup of dough in the center. Make a well in the center of the dough, building up the sides. Spoon 1/3 cup sauce into the center of the dough. Place raw meat in the sauce and place two bell pepper strips on either side of it. You want your tamales to end up rectangular, so you will fold your tamales in thirds. Fold the bottom leaves up and over the dough, snugly. Then pull the top section down, over the first. Then bring in your sides- just a simple fold up. The folding needs to be as snug as possible. Now take your twine and wrap it around the middle section, turn, and wrap lengthwise and tie a knot just as you would a brown paper parcel. If you have no leaves, use foil and seal your ends with double folds. You will not need twine.
Once the tamales are assembled, place in large pot- stacked however you can get them in, as tight as possible. Fill the pot 2/3 full of water, cover, bring to boil, and then simmer on medium heat until meat is cooked (1-2 hours depending on how many tamales are in the pot, how tight the seal is , etc.) Freeze or serve immediately. If you freeze them, reheat by steaming.