We just wrapped up our second Christmas celebration complete with a whole roasted pig and homemade tamales. My husbands family celebrates Christmas on January 6 every year, it's one rich in traditions and lots of food. I love making this holiday, but remember it being a whole lot easier a few years back. My cousin Robbyn calls me the energizer bunny; but even the bunny runs out of juice sometimes. I spent most of the day curled up on the couch with my dogs exhausted, but now I'm recharged and ready to share some tamales with you.
I know what you are thinking, "Not everyone has roasted pork meat on hand", but you could easily sub out shredded chicken, cheese, or anything you have on hand. You need a few basics down and you can let your imagination be your guide from there.
10-12 dried Pasilla chilies
10-12 dried California Chilies
First thing you are going to want to do is give your chilies a good soaking. I pour enough hot water over them to submerge them. Let sit for 30-40 minutes, then pull the stems off and discard the stems. When you do this the seeds should come out too.
2 medium onions, chopped
5-6 cloves minced garlic
1 - 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
4 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, stems removed
4-5 cups liquid from chilies
In a skillet heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil and add onions and garlic, cook for 5 minutes or so on medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Set aside.
Place half of the peppers, chipotles, and half the tomatoes in a blender cover with 2 cups liquid from the chilies, and process till smooth. Strain through a fine sieve to remove skins and seeds. Repeat with rest of ingredients and add to skillet.
Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes until thickened. I like to put the sauce in a bowl and run an immersion blender in it for a few seconds. I make my sauce the day before making the tamales. Store it in the refrigerator in an air tight container.
1 large package dried corn husks
5-8 pounds fresh masa harina
When I make tamales I need about 20 pounds of masa so I buy it pre-made at the Mexican grocery store. 20 lbs. isn't a typo, and yes they are all gone. I also go through two or three packs of husks. But a good place to start is 1 batch of sauce, 5-8 pounds of masa and one package of husks. You can also buy masa harina flour and make it yourself.
Put the dried corn husks in a large bowl of water, place a plate on top to weight them down and let them sit for a couple of hours to soften.
Shred the pork. You will need about 6 cups of shredded meat and 2 cups of sauce at a time. Mix well.
Grab one husk and place a handful of masa, about the size of a large golf ball in the center.
Spread the masa out into a rectangle and place a strip of meat down the center. I have this pet tamale peeve, you know what I'm talking about, tamales with too much masa and not enough meat. My preferred method is to use a larger amount of meat than masa.
Grab one side of the tamale and pull it over to the other side, tucking it to meet the other side and keep rolling till it's a cigar shape.
I always see them all cutely tied, but there really is no need. I roll them, and fold the end over, that's it. If you have that much free time on your hands, that makes you feel the need to tie them and make them fancy let me know, I have lots of laundry around here that needs washing.
I place them upright in a colander and lower them into a larger pot with water on the bottom and a rack to place the colander on. Steam for 75-90 minutes. You don't need to have the heat higher than medium.
I think if you are going to go through the trouble of making them, make a larger quantity and give some away or freeze some for later. Don't worry I'm going to show you the pig this pork came from, I have more photos to process and then you too can be a professional pig roaster and tamale maker.