Are you a city tamale or a country tamale? Generally I would constitute myself as a city tamale, but on a beautiful late summer day, I found myself in the country.
You may recall my previous post on roasted pork tamales, but we’re switching things up. This time, we’re taking the tamales out of the city and into the country. And this time, we’re using real lard. As a person who previously thought lard was an egregious abomination, never to enter MY kitchen, I must say…I’m a convert.
The last time I made tamales I also used a tamale kit which came fully outfitted with the corn husks, maize flour (mixed with some terrifying lard preservative I’m sure). That was all well and good, but this time s*** got real.
I’m so glad it’s 2012. Aren’t you? I would easily get lost even on the gridded streets of New York without my iPhone. But besides the iPhone, it’s so wonderful to live in 2012 because of the amazing things you can find in grocery stores. Even in a regular rural Stop-n-Shop, you can find all of the ingredients you would need for any exotic meal. There’s kombu kelp flakes in the Japanese section if you want to make miso from scratch, fresh lemongrass in the produce section if you want to make Thai food and in our case, there are about 15 different choices when it comes to masa flour for tamales.
I picked the Maseca brand because I liked the packaging. Call me a sucker gringa, but the bag also said “para hacer tamales” which I’m pretty sure in English means “makes really dope tamales.” I’m also fairly confident any brand of masa harina (that’s the instant stuff) from Goya to Rob’s Red Mill will get the job done.
If you thought the Maseca packaging was cool, check out this lard box. I mean no one is beating around the bush here. This package contains lots of rendered triglycerides and it’s going to make your mouth happy.
Roasted Beef Tamales
Makes about 15 tamales
For the dough:
Follow the instructions on your package of masa harina
You will need:
5 cups masa harina
4 cups water
1 cup lard
1 Tablespoon spices: a combination of salt, cumin, chili powder or whatever is available.
For the filling:
3 lbs of beef (London broil or something that comes in a thick slab)
4 large dried red chillies – preferable New Mexican and ripped into small-ish pieces, seeds and stems removed
2 plum tomatoes –chopped
5 cloves of garlic – chopped
Enough water to cover the meat in the pot by ½ inch
½ tsp chilli powder
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs cumin
15-20 corn husks
about 3 feet of kitchen twine
1. In a mixing bowl combine masa and warm until combined and let it rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, whip the lard in a small bowl. Add to the masa mixture and set aside, add the spices just before you are ready to work.
2. Pour the olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper on the bottom of a medium sized heavy-bottom pot (cast iron if you have it). Place the beef on top of it and add all the other ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer on very low heat for about an hour. When it’s done it should be really soft. Take two forks and shred the meat, discarding fat. Save the remaining sauce in the pan.
2. Lay out the corn husks and put about 2 tbs of the corn mixture on each one in a small rectangle. Then put about 1 tbs of the beef mixture and a tsp of the reserved sauce. Fold over the sides of the husk and then the bottom. Tie with a strand of corn husk or kitchen twine if you have it.
3. In a large pot, boil 2 inches of water under a steamer basket. Steam the tamales (checking the water level and replacing every 20 minutes or so) for about 55 minutes. Serve right away with salsa verde or refrigerate or freeze. To reheat, just boil another inch of water and steam for 10 minutes. They freeze very well.
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