Over the weekend my main and I went for the gold! We decided to make tamales!
Last year my Mom gifted me a small vaporera for tamales and we put it to use. (Side note: in searching for pictures for those of you who might want to know what I’m talking about, it seems that this may not even be for tamales, but for like smaller food? Oh well!) See images of my steamer here: google search results. The reason I was given a small one was because it’s just 2 of us and we’re far away from everyone and having something in a smaller version is best. It’s been cold and snowy and since we didn’t attempt this during the regular tamal season we went for it now.
A long time ago, before I moved to Oregon, I wrote down the recipe for how my mom and tias and grandma make their tamales (puerco or res en chile rojo or mole, pollo en chile verde, and rajas con queso). We decided to go with his mom’s recipe of tamales de puerco en mole. We called her up in the morning to get everything down and it’s so hard to get everything right when these mommas don’t measure anything. It’s always, “un punito de sal” or “una cuchara copeteada”, etc. Regardless, we took to shopping for the ingredients but before heading home we stopped at Jimmy John’s for some sammiches. When we got home we ate and mentally prepared ourselves for what was about to go down. This is a task for a group of people, but obviously we managed.
Overall the experience was pretty good. We cooked 5 lbs of trocitos de puerco, mixed an entire bag of masa, and soaked one bag of corn leaves. Next time we’re adding the whole box of lard to the mix because these tamales need to slide off the leaves and ours didn’t. *sad face*
We also need to be free with the salt – his mom was right, all the salt flavor you think it has goes away while the tamales are cooking. We called his mom about 10 times throughout the entire day to make sure we had this right and that measured. Our wrapping needs work for sure! There are thin ones, really fat ones, too much masa, not enough meat. Our stove is electric – with the coils – and that impacted the cooking time. She gave us an estimate of about an hour but we ended up cooking them for about 3 because we just did, OK? Good thing we had Jimmy John’s in our bellies. We ate like 4 tamales each to “test” them as the cooking was happening. That’s how we knew they needed more time. If I get constipation it’s all my fault.
The next day we called my cousin to show her daughter the snowfall. Grandma was there so we talked to her about our experience. We told her the difference in the mole recipes (ours is better. Shh! Don’t tell the main). Ours has so much more heat to the flavor since we use two different chiles: arbol and California vs. only guajillo). We fry our bread and they fry saltine crackers. Theirs has cloves and ginger and raw garlic, we boil the garlic with the chiles and add cumin when blending.
In the picture: sesame seeds, chocolate abuelita, cinnamon, garlic, cloves, sweet pepper, and fresh ginger.
We’re thinking of giving it another go this upcoming weekend. This time we’re going for tamales dulces and de res in chile rojo. This time around I’ll see if I can pause and document our progress. Here is the only picture I took (and it was only because I wanted to show my friend what I was up to).
My grandmas asked if there is a Vallarta because she recommended getting the masa prepared to save work and time. Yeah, grandma! No Vallarta in rural Oregon. One day!
Here is another meme just for fun! The main asked me not to eat all the tamales because he wanted to share some with his ladies at work. But, this is me…