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Tamales

Courtesy of Chef Gerardo Aldeco, La Cocina Oaxaquena, Mexico

Makes 12 tamales

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds masa de maiz
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or lard)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • salt
  • 12 corn husks (or banana leaves)
  • Filling: herbs, mole, beans, squash blossoms, cheese, chicken, stew, etc.

Preparation:

  1. Soak the corn husks in a pot of cold water at least 20 minutes and drain the water.
  2. Place the masa de maiz dough (usually made with masa de maiz flour and water) in a large bowl.
  3. Add vegetable oil, baking soda, and three-fingered pinch of salt. Knead by pinching and twisting hand for 10 minutes. Try not to fold air into the maiz.
  4. Next, add the chicken broth and continue kneading until mixed.
  5. Set up an assembly line for making the tamales.
  6. Place an open corn husk in your hand so that the round bottom is in your palm. Put a spoonful of masa dough in the corn husk...and use the spoon the spread the masa dough and coat the bottom half of the husk.
  7. Next, place a dollop of mole with chicken, stew, or meat on top of the masa layer.
  8. The final step in tamale assembly is to fold the sides of the husk in on top of one another, then to fold the top half down, and finally, to use a torn sliver of another husk to tie the tamale closed across its width. Repeat 11 or so more times.
  9. A double-layered steamer pot is ideal for steaming the tamales. Lay the tamales down by stacking them around the edges of the pot.
  10. After stacking the tamales, cover them with a damp towel and couple of plastic bags (i.e. grocery bag.) The damp towel should be the layer closest to tamales. Then cover the pot so it can steam.
  11. After steaming the tamales for 1 hr. without removing the lid of the pot, serve.