Friday, March 18, 2011


Today was Tamales making day for me, I had bought my vegetables yesterday off of the produce truck and this morning I headed off to the meat market to get my kilo of meat only to find out he is closed today....all day, said the ladies that were standing outside the shop chatting. They tell me I can buy meat at the Super Deli, I had never seen meat there other than wieners and sliced ham (wait until I tell you what they do with wieners here) so I head over there and the deli girl tells me she is out of meat, but she has 1/2 a chicken left, I take it. Tamales come in chicken, beef or shrimp, we had just decided to do beef because I plan on making these with moose when I get home but chicken is doable too.
On the way home I run into a parade on main street, it's the kindergarden kids all dressed up, not sure why but it was pretty cute. I took pictures and was going to post them but then decided it might not be a good idea to post pictures of other peoples kids on the world wide web. Trust me it was cute. I met Rosa there and we walked to her house from there....she has no idea how excited I am.
First step was washing and skinning the chicken and cutting it's claws off, when you buy a chicken here you get a chicken....all of it, including the feet and the head and the tail, we discarded the tail and head of course, the feet are still brewing in the pot for a nice bone broth. I was wondering why I got 2 feet and the whole head when  had only bought 1/2 a chicken.....just wondering if someone got jipped a foot.

Cock a doodle do

Simmering in pot with garlic

Chicken is put in a pot of water, just enough water to submerge the chicken and 2 cloves of garlic (I would have put more) While this is simmering pull the stems out of the dried chili and turn inside out popping all the seeds out and also put in a pot (different pot) of water, just submerging chilis, while this is all simmering take your camera and walk around your host's garden for a bit.

Dried chilis simmering in water

The Poinsettia of course never dies here, I think it's my favorite plant here

Then come in and slice your tomatoes into stick like pieces and your onions and the Serrano chilis and cut up the cilantro. When I first started coming to Mexico 11 years ago I loved the food immediately but always wished they wouldn't use as much cilantro, I was not a fan of cilantro and never used it at home, didn't even plant it in my garden. Now I like it and know that you couldn't have tamales without it, or some of the other dishes, I have acquired a taste for it and you will see it in my garden this summer.

Vegetables cut up like so

Once chicken is cooked chili will be done too, pour water from chicken pot (saving about 2 cups of it) into a blender and pour in the chili, including water, add about 6 cloves garlic and blend into a beautiful red sauce.
Now strip all chicken meat off the bones and pull apart the meat into small strands and put into the small pot you had the chili in and pour in 1/2 your blender of sauce (save the other 1/2) and simmer for a bit...oh add 1 tbsp cumin. This chicken mixture by itself can be a Mexican meal, served on top of rice, or potatoes or in a taco with some ensalada.(explanation of ensalda at the end) Taste this before you put into your tamale just so you know how many Serrano pepper you want to put in later.

delicious already

Now fill a pan with oil (we used Soy) and heat up, we used 1/2 a bottle of oil (1 liter bottle) I couldn't figure out why I had oil on my list because I knew tamales were not deep fried, here was my surprise. Empty a bag of Maseca flour into a large bowl and pour in your other 1/2 of sauce in your blender and stir, it will look a little crumbly.

Now slowly, very slowly pour in your hot oil as you are stirring. Stir until it is a nice soft dough, we ended up needing more liquid so she put some of the hot water that was in the chicken pot (member you saved a cup of it) into the blender and just swished it around rinsing it and poured it into the bowl. (never put cold water in here) When the dough was good you could roll it into a ball with your fingers without it being sticky. Who knew this was where the oil would go?...not I.

Hot oil going in

Somewhere along the way you need to wash your corn husks and while you are messing with your dough they are soaking in a pail of water (cold water) So now take them out of the pail and shake the water off so they are not dripping anymore.

Husks soaking in water

Now comes the fun part, use a little plastic bag as a glove (yes you need me) and take a ball of dough and smoosh it onto the corn husk coating it, leaving space at the top and lots of space at the bottom, once it's husk peeking through put a big spoon full of chicken mixture on, one slice tomato, one slice onion, one slice Serrano (more if you can handle it) and a little bunch of cilantro.

Now fold one long side over and then the other long side, fold up the long bottom piece and fold down the little top piece. Some people now tie them with a string, we did not. Put your pretty little tamales package upright in the steam pot. It is a pot with a little tray inside keeping your tamales off of the bottom which you have filled with water. I believe a rice steamer would work as well. Once you have them all filled steam for one hour. Let them cool off a bit before tasting or they will fall apart on you.

Steaming away

Yummy yummy
When you have your vegetables all cut up and are busy messing with your pots and your flour, cover your vegetables with a pretty pretty hand embroidered towel like this to keep the flies away.
This was so much fun for me, it was also good for my Spanish as Rosa does not speak English. Of course I had to have a huge boo because I am such a clutz, when I was gathering all the dirty dishes I dropped the glass lid for one of her pots it shattered of course, there is never any grace when you drop something on a concrete floor. I felt like such an idiot and will be buying her a new pot....I'm sure I can't buy just a lid.
I was so proud of my Tamales, I left Rosa enough for her family and as I walked home with mine I stopped at   Sophia and Mundo's house and gave them each one, then when I walked past my neighbors house she (can never member her name) called out tome asking where I bought my tamales, I proudly said, I did not by them, I made them....should have seen her surprised look, so I gave her one too. She was all impressed. Rosa was joking around and said I could make and sell Tamales at home and everyone could call me Tamalemaria....I think not, I'll stick to cutting grass and add making Tamales to my list of hobbies. Like I need a new hobby.
I was very excited to come home with my Tamales because I wanted to share them with my friend Augusta. Augusta is a beach vendor, she sells little bracelets, earrings and necklaces on the beach. She walks up and down the beach all day long trying to sell her stuff to the tourists, and these days there are just not many tourist. The media has scared them all away .... but that is a different story I might share later (grrr) . Augusta usually has her lunch break at one of my tables under one of my palapas. If I am here and am having lunch I like to share my lunch with her, she is always so grateful and gives me a gift in return, I don't want a gift in return but she always insists and I feel so bad then. At one point I was considering not giving her lunch anymore because I did not want her to feel obligated to give me gift, but I asked a few people and was told that I should allow her to give me a gift if she wants too. Today I was very proud to share my Tamales with her, and she wasn't on the beach, either I missed her, she's been going home early due to no tourist (grrr) or she didn't come today at all. I was sad. I ate her Tamale for supper. Tomorrow I am making Roll kuchen for Rosa and her family and will keep some for Augusta, who has already had roll kuchen....she said they were muy rico (very good)

Ensalada is the Mexican salad, it consists of cup cucumbers, radishes, and shredded lettuce, it is the topping for many dishes......never any dressing, so much healthier that our salads at home that are almost soggy with dressings. Sometimes a dollop of sour cream acts as a dressing here.

My supper tonight was one Tamales and some steamed peppers, carrots, onions, garlic, tossed with  a tbsp of sour cream and topped with fresh tomato and good.

No comments: