Sunday, January 20, 2019

Cold Today, Hot Tamales

Working on the menu for B-camp, in May, at Park City.

My previous efforts at meso-American cuisine have been okay, but my attempts to make tamales have been dismal.  Made them again over the past two days (prep time not that much, but quite a lot of time between steps).  And, delightful.  Really tasty.

Below: Still enhusked, in the steamer, and unwrapped and sauced.






















They were great, among the best I've ever had (though I have usually only had tamales in restaurants, and those "Mexican" restaurants may not be very good, since they are mostly for gringos, rather than meso-Americanos verdaderos).

The innovation (for me; this may be common among home-made recipes, and I just don't know it) (UPDATE: Clearly a part of Mexcian-Jewish fusion recipes!!) was to use the chicken fat--of which there was plenty after boiling down 4 pounds of bone-in, skin-on thighs--instead of lard. Lard is fine, I don't object to it, but schmaltz is both delicious and (in this case) free and immediately available.

Recipe (if you can call it that) for dough:  1 unit masa, 1/3 unit schmaltz, 1/2 unit (or so, have to feel it) of reserved liquid to boil down chicken), plus baking powder and salt.  This scales, so an example might be 3 cups masa, 1 cup schmaltz, 1 1/2 cups liquid, one tablespoon baking powder and one tablespoon salt.

Chill the schmaltz, whisk together dry ingredients. Mix schmaltz into dry ingredients with fingers (think biscuit dough).  Should look like pebbles, pretty dry. Add liquid a little at a time, until you get the right consistency.  Work it a bit and then let it sit five minutes, then fabricate in the usual way. Don't over fill the dough on the corn husk, it's just a flavoring. This dough stands on its own well, moist and a little bit fluffy, not as heavy and greasy as one usually gets in restaurants.

(UPDATE: "real" Mexican sauces are much thinner and lighter than American chunky salsas. This one was great for tamales: three tomatillos, half an onion, and three roma tomatoes, roasted under broiler for a few minutes, then run in a blender with some comino and half a cup (!) of Tapatio. Yes, I know that Tapatio is made in California.  I love Tapatio, and it is much hotter and has less salt than comparable cheap American hot sauces.  You can get a quart of Tapatio for under $4, and the particular flavor is perfect, for me at least, for tamales.)

4 comments:

Bob Knaus said...

You know that's a fake quote from Petronious, right?

Mungowitz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mungowitz said...

It's actually a misquote of a misattribution. Even the fake source is different from that. But isn't the picture good?

Bob Knaus said...

Yes the pic is fabulous! If you enjoy amusing antiquities, may I recommend http://askthepast.blogspot.com/ ?