By Suzie and Jeff Dunn
|Tamale Mama’s at work: From left, Jan Billiam, Pam Hashimoto, Stephanie Klatt, Lois Hutchison, Suzie Dunn, Janet Mansoldo, Ann Larsen and Janie Smieszek. Photo Courtesy of Jodeen Stephens|
Our friend, Ann Larsen was in town, maybe for the last time, which gave Suzie the opportunity to PARTY! She had a party -- a tamale making party -- and it was really fun.
On one hand, it was a lot of preparation. The really good tamales you purchase are worth the money!
On the other hand, it’s a blast when you work with a bunch of friends, some who are experienced at making tamales and others who have only eaten them but are relaxed enough to get in with both hands.
Our party was billed as a demo-make-and-take party.
On the agenda to make were green corn tamales (tamale de elote), pork (carnitas), chicken, and two dessert tamales, one with strawberries and the other called Sugar and Spice.
Suzie had the meat fillings made and the corn roasted and the group helped complete the fillings. Recipes came from the book, Coyote Café by Mark Miller and MyRecipes.com.
A suggestion from deli personnel at Weber’s was to try frozen masa. Suzie purchased one bag or five pounds for about $5. This masa, in order to become proper dough, had to be thawed and mixed with several cups of lard, leavening and spices.
Thankfully, Pam Hashimoto was up to the muscle work! There was a massive amount when completed!
For the green corn and dessert tamales, we used dry instant corn masa. It was much easier to control in small amounts. Next we cleaned and soaked the corn husks -- corn hairs and some residual insect larvae had to be removed.
Once the husks were ready, each person made the tamales of her choosing by spreading some masa on each corn husk, topping it with meat or fruit and then securing the packages by folding or tying them.
Suzie gave instructions on steaming the tamales at home prior to eating. Once steamed, the corn husk is discarded and a dumpling-like cake remains.
Though not authentic, The Dunnery is partial to topping off tamales with Las Palmas Green Chile Enchilada Sauce, which we use for tamales, rellenos and just about everything Mexican.
The strawberry masa and puree made from frozen unsweetened strawberries were the basis for an interesting dessert. Everything turned pink, including the corn husks. Think Valentine’s.
Suzie suggested serving these tamales with sliced fresh strawberries. The Sugar and Spice Fruit Tamales called for a filling into which pureed pumpkin and pumpkin spices were incorporated.
Crushed pineapple and raisins were tucked inside prior to sealing. Warmed vanilla sauce (melted ice cream?) or Mexican chocolate sauce were suggested as accompaniments.
Everyone went home with a variety of tamales and from reports, the end products were enjoyed. Suzie spent several hours using up the remaining ingredients (five pounds of masa, and eight pounds of it is a lot!) and she was able to give away several dozen!
The only complaint she received from recipients, including Jeff and our son, was the dislike of raisins in the dessert tamales. Easy to remedy! Don’t use next time! Or substitute some other dried fruit.
A question came up during our event, “what about using oil instead of lard when making the masa?”
Suzie had asked that very question of several regular tamales makers prior to this event and was told, “the tamales just don’t taste right. The real deal is made with lard.”
The green corn tamale uses butter, however, and it is one of our favorite masas.
For your information, tamales can be frozen prior to steaming. This is advised only when ingredients are precooked and freezing is done in small batches. When reheating, the inside filling should reach 160 degrees. Leftover corn husks can be dried and saved.
Thanks to the gals who helped Ann have a fun afternoon. Perhaps another tamale party is in order at holiday time 2012!
To your health and happiness, Jeff and Suzie at the Dunnery