Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tamales Mexicanos de Puerco en Chile Colorado y Pollo en Chile Verde (Mexican Red Pork Tamales and Green Chicken Tamales)

Many cultures have their own types of Tamal (Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Central and South Americans, etc.) depending the culture and even region it is prepared differently using different ingredients and cooking methods. In general a tamal is a starchy dough usually corn based, stuffed with some type of filling usually meat or seafood sometimes vegetables, wrapped and steamed

The tamales I grew up eating were the Mexican tamales as well as the Salvadorian tamales (that will be left for another post) today I'm focusing on the Mexican tamales, they are made from dried corn treated with nixtamal/ lime which is calcium hydroxide, this releases the nutrients in the corn, the corn is ground, and mixed with lard, salt, and I don't know what else. This dough we just call it "Masa"

Here in the United States I feel safe to say NO ONE makes the dough from scratch, especially here in Southern Mexifornia I mean California we have so many good Mexican stores that sell quality Mexican ingredients, and prepare fresh dough daily, they sell by the pounds. The best dough down here in my opinion is from "La Amapola" a Mexican deli when we visit my aunt in Huntington Park we always stock up on Masa. But when we aren't in teh area and run out of their dough, then Vallarta (a chain of Mexican stores down here) and "El Gallo Giro" (a Mexican bakery) sell good masa.

The other option is to buy "Masa Harina" sold under the brand "Maseca" it is made of pure all natural corn, it is dried ground to a powder corn treated with lime to release the nutrients, the directions are on the packet for making the tamal dough, but I believe it's inferior to the fresh dough from the stores but still delicious.

... I really should be getting paid for talking about these products and establishments haha.

Ingredients for Tamales dough and wrap:
-10 lbs. already prepared "Masa Para Tamales" (Tamale dough)bought from the Mexican store, fresh or buy "Masa Harina" and make dough according to packet instructions

-2 packets 8 oz. "Hojas de Tamal Encochadas" (dried corn husk leaves) (soaked in cold water for 30- 60 minutes)

Filling 1 Ingredients- Pork in Red Sauce:
-5 lbs. pork leg meat cut into small cubes
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 onion minced
-4 cloves garlic minced
-12 dried "Chile California" peppers ( right )
-10 dried "Chile Guajillo" peppers ( left )
-2 ripe tomatoes
-1 heaping teaspoon cumin
-1/4 heaping teaspoon cloves -1 tablespoon chicken bouillon

Directions for Filling 1- Pork in Red Sauce:
(1) Get pork, wash it, and cover half way with water season liberally with salt and pepper, bring to boil on high heat and leave slightly uncovered, add some very generous amounts of oil maybe 1/2 cup while the pork is boiling. leave alone.

(2) Meanwhile, remove stem and seeds from dried peppers, put in a pot with 3 tomatoes and boil until tender in water just enough water to barely cover. about 10 minutes, when tender put in a blender with enough liquid to make a sauce and chicken bouillon, strain sauce through a strainer, add ground cumin, ground cloves stir well.

(3) When all the water evaporates on the pork you were simmering, brown the pork slightly, set meat aside, brown onion then add garlic when fragrant, add red sauce you made, bring to a boil, add pork meat and simmer 15 minutes, taste for salt add more if necessary. Turn off heat, the filling is done.

(4) Be sure the sauce isn't too thin it needs to be thick and somewhat reduced set aside.

Filling 2 Ingredients- Chicken in Green Chile Sauce

-4 lbs boneless chicken meat
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 onion minced
-2 jalapeno or serrano peppers minced (any spicy green pepper)
-4 cloves garlic
-1 lbs. tomatillos
-water about 1 1/2 cups
-1 tablespoon chicken bouillon

Filling 2- Chicken in Green Sauce Directions:
(1) Brown chicken in oil with salt and pepper on very high heat

(2) Meanwhile blend tomatillos in a blender cut in half with water and chicken bouillon, make sure it's very well blended and liquefied
(3) When chicken is browned, add onion and green chili pepper, when onion is translucent or browned, add garlic when fragrant add the tomatillos you blended with water and bouillon. Add salt to taste if necessary.
(4) Bring to a boil and allow to cook 15 minutes. Turn off heat. Be sure the filling isn't to loose set aside.


Directions for wrapping Tamales and cooking them:
(1) Don't forget to soak the corn husks, when soaked for about 30- 60 minutes in cold water take them out as your using.
(2) Have everything arranged and ready (your fillings, your dough, the corn husks drained after soaking, and large dishes to place your already wrapped tamales)
(3) Get a corn husk, spread the masa on it, on the upper part like this
(4) Put about 2 pieces of filling with a little sauce
(5)Fold it so the two corners with masa stick, then tuck one side in

(6)Then fold the end upwards,
(7) Set aside
(8)Do the same with the green filling
(9) Here's when we are done wrapping all of them. Please note that when wrapping them some corn husk leaves will be smaller or rip if that's the case use two that over lap each other.
(10)Get a deep enough pot, and line is with corn husk like the pictures below

(11) In one pot put only one kind of tamales (green or red) my mother say's if you steam them all together then the flavors can intertwine.

(12) Tuck in leaves to form a dome on the sides,

(13) Place a corn husk on the center (please note this dome is formed so water from the pots lid does not fall onto the tamales, if thsi happens they drown and never harden, you will get a mushy mess.
(14) Do the same with the red ones in another pot
(15) Have water boiling in a seperate pot and put about 3 cups of boiling water in each pot, but ladle the water in through the sides of the dome, cover and cook on medium high heat, for about 1 1/2 hours.

(16) Take one out to test if the dough is raw or not fully cooked, when done they are ready to eat.
(17) Enjoy with some "Champurrado" a type of thick Mexican chocolate cinnamon drink:)

Please Note:
(1) My favorite are the one's with "Chile Colorado" if I were making them and not my mother I would only make the one's with pork in "Chile Colorado"

(2) Also there's a sweet pineapple type of masa, my mom buys the prepared pineapple dough but adds certain things that makes it amazing. She also makes another type as well with fire roasted poblano peppers and fresh cheese.

(3) You can make very large batches and freeze them raw then take them out to steam whenever.

ALSO SUPER IMPORTANT... so it's not too much work you can make the filling a day in advance doing everything the same day is a lot of work and super time consuming

(4) When reheating them the next day or after cold, if microwaving cover/ wrap in a wet cloth or towel or it will be dry. Another way to re-heat is to put in a pot with very little water and steam until hot again. And the best way or tastiest is called "Tamal Frito" (fried tamal) my mother heats lard in a pan and fries the tamal until crispy on all sides to re-heat :)