Tamales Foamheart

Discussion in 'Pork' started by foamheart, Jul 15, 2014.

  1. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well I smoked that butt the other day and was greedy with the pulled pork just so I could make tamales. These thing are delicious. Never cared much for them till I moved to NM, Texas, and traveled all over northern Mexico. Before then the extent of my tamale knowledge came out of an El Paso Tamale can...... LOL I always try to make broths and freeze them when possible, I started that with shrimps shells and now do chicken, smoked turkey, beef, heck I have pork broth. I can not say enough how these will make all the difference in cooking.

    When in West Texas I made a point to make a monthly sales call on Pennzoil Sulphur. They didn't buy much at all for sulphur injection but the very best tamales in the world came out a little old ladies place there.....LOL I just fell in love with them. So a while back I tried making my own, she's long passed away and would be an extremely long drive to get to her place.  I was amazed how well they came out, course it could have been the lack of any at all in years too. AND they froze really well.

    Heres how I make them, I am sure they are other ways, probably easier and better but this is what I came up with. The little old Mexican ladies would throw a fit at all maza I use, but I like it!

    I figure there are three parts, the maza, the filling, and the assembly.

    Maza prep

    Maza, broth, melted lard, salt, pepper, and baking powder, I wonder where the lard got off too.....Hmmmm......

    Set the corn husks in hot water to soak, BTW if you buy the cheap bags of husks you'll spend that money difference in the cussin tip jar.

    You need a tamale pan to steam in, where you can steam without setting in the water. I am sure there were plenty of tamale pans around before Case started building Mini's. LOL I have no idea where my pot is so using my common sense I made one.

    Yes, that is the pressure cooker, I set 3 custard cups inverted on the bottom and now returning the canning rack

    Makes a smaller than normal tamale pot with a deeper area for water so you need not watch it so close. Because........ you do NOT want it to go dry while steaming the tamales.

    Next is the filling. (There is that lard!) I use lard for pie crust, White beans, rolls, etc....

    The small bag on top of pulled pork was all I used, minced garlic, minced onion, cumin, and chili's (Oh and some of JJ's Finishing sauce too!)

    We have the maza, hot broth with melted lard, into the Maza with salt, pepper and baking powder. Combined to form an almost wet mixture. Some folks I understand whip or cream it during mixing. I didn't. Not the water in the mixing bowl, it has 2 purposes. first to constantly adjust the mixture due to the hydration of the corn, second it keeps the maza mixture to sticking to your hands. I figured out that my hands were the best way to do it.

    Next we have the filling, I used some lard in the skillet, caramelized some minced onions and garlic, and added the cumin and chili till I liked the taste then a bit of JJ's to put it over the top.

    Take a corn shuck, using my hands I form the maza and slap it on the husk, put some meat in the middle and like using a piece of plastic wrap vice a corn hunk, wrap like  making tubes of compound butter or cookie dough,tighten the inside up and roll and fold.

    Then fill the pot and start steaming low and slow for a couple a hours. Make sure that they are loose enough to have the room to grow as they cook. Plus ya want that steam to get around them.

    They are now steaming, will come back when they are done.
  2. what do you mean be back later im hungry now [​IMG].  nice job as always Foam
  3. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Sounds tasty Kevin! We make tamales every year with some friends around Christmas time. The adults make tamales, the kids decorate cookies. Everyone goes home with a platter of cookies and 50 tamales! Good times!
  4. reinhard

    reinhard Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Always wondered what those corn husks were for in the Mexican section, now I know.  Great work so far Foamheart,  I'll be paying attention.  Reinhard
  5. dandl93

    dandl93 Smoking Fanatic


    Looking great,,,, my wife uses a big pot with a metal collander turned up side down for her Tamales.She always uses pork but will do a few dozen with cheese and jalapenos.They do freeze well so always make alot for later.

  6. Hello my friend.  Can't beat the real deal can you.  You GO brother, got my attention!  Wanna see any difference in recipes!  Always willing to improve!  Love it so far.

  7. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Lookin good Foam, real good ! Thumbs Up
  8. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'm back...... was trying to get some fruit juice put up before I quit. Trash man comes in the AM.

    I didn't get too many tamales this time. I made 3 cups of masa instead of the 4 I did last time and got 2 dozen tamales. This time I only got like 16 or 17, I think. Here they are cooling.

    Broke another out


    and removed!

    Cut up so you can see how easy the masa surrounds the filling.

    Some things I learned this time.

    First and foremost I should have taken notes last time. But I was only in the learning stage and didn't even expect to eat them. I often sacrifice to learn. Well they were the most awesome ones I had tasted since I last ate in Pecos! Take notes. I didn't because it was so simple I couldn't understand needing to write it down.

    Next, you should always have some good dried chilis laying around, I didn't and I don't know why, so I used mixed and crushed..... sad.

    Last time I asked for masa, I got masa harina the Red Mill brand (I really didn't want it I wanted Ma ce ca which was what I had seen the little old ladies in West Texas use) Well this time I got Maseca brand and found it to be a fine flour vice more like a corn meal like Bob's. Bob's cooked easier and was more tender. It would have been much more in line with making tortillas.

    Last time the broth used was smoked turkey and had been reduced by 1/2. This was chicken broth and didn't carry the flavor. Even with additional chicken crystals not the flavor.

    Use good dryed peppers Last time I used green peppers, cause I like green peppers, and it was much better. Also, I think by setting the cooker lid down to sort of hold the steam probably got some condensation running. A good dish towel works better. Even JJ's finishing sauce couldn't save these.

    Well instead of learning all this the first time, I got lucky and now am learning instead.

    The tamales are good, I have seen those communal tamale making parties that you talk about Case. Its standard operating procedure in the border states in the west. Yes, and usually around Christmas.

    I will do this again. If just to figure out how to make 'em as good as last time again....LOL

    Don't just laugh at me, constructive criticism is usually appreciated. <Chuckles>

    Thanks for looking in. Oh and I am strange I like my tamales dry with a bit of mustard or covered with good chili.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2014
    bdskelly and disco like this.
  9. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Its nothing fancy but its good food, and Thank you. I will make 'em better next time............after I eat these. LOL
    Thank you Case

    I have seen 'em made when sitting all around a big table, and the gossip flying while all the kids went crazy and the men stood around outside drinking beer talking about cars and trucks.
    Thank you sir.

    I have heard of folks using newspapers where the ink stained the masa or plastic wrap. I even read where in Puerto Rica they make a tamale look-a-like and sometimes use Mr. Coffee coffee filters. Just what I heard.
  10. moikel

    moikel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thats a hell of a process.I love food like this.I havent seen one in the wild since maybe the mid 90s when I was at a little food fair. I see them on TV on shows like Andrew Zimmerman or here references in popular culture but they are a rare beast here. 

    As it happens a food writer expressed an opinion recently that" You can buy better Mexican food from an old lady for $2 at a Gas Station in the US than you can get for $20  made by some tattooed hipster chef in some funky Sydney  cafe" Wish I had said it first because its so true.
  11. Places back home in MS use to have chili. Crazy but certain areas of MS are well known for tamales. A few familes moved in and started making them and then started a tradition.

    Moved out to CO and found a different but equally good style.

    Got to give a go at making my own.

    And will say the green chili out here is much better on them than good ole texas red
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2014
  12. blacklab

    blacklab Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Future menu Item
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2014
  13. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Looks awesome Foam.

    I would try to make them but I used my steamer pot to make a mini.
  14. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thank you and Tamales take me back to college days sad to say. The right off campus bar back then always had two heated pots at the end of the bar. One had links of sausage, .25/link, and tamales .05/each. Course the cups of beer were a quarter a piece too! The food came with 4 packs of saltines and your choice of mustard or ketchup. Back then all the college bars stayed open 24/7 and a link of sausage or a couple of tamales no matter the quality was appreciated at times...LOL
    Its true, even a bad homemade tamale is better than a good canned one....LOL  I am more about procedure that measurement, and learning the right ingredients. Pre-processed sometimes works but I always look for the root of the idea in really foods.
    Thanks man, 24 tamales isn't so bad, if doing any more I learned you want your comfortable shoes on. I can't cook and sit down, drives me nuts. But they are pretty good, even from a nub who is trying to remember what he saw.
  15. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    LOL.. Thank you C-Man, its ok, you'll just have to look around and improvise like it did. Besides I think you are getting more use out of your tamale pot where it is.
    If you like tamales like I do, don't be afraid just wade right in and get used to the water.
    Listen If I can do it, it can not ne hard. You just need to use a bit of common sense and the rest like smoking is just tweaking what you do to make it how you want it. It surprised me the first attempt how outstanding it was. Now I have to practice to be able to do it again.
    Well its nothing compared to those complex dishes you make, this would not even allow you to flex your creative abilities. But the best foods always come from a home. The very best restaurants try to mimic the foods made in the homes by little old ladies and people like you who have fun in the kitchen.
  16. moikel

    moikel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I had some great Mex/Latino food in NYC. Got back here & got served crap taco's with packet sauces that would glow in the dark at $25 a plate.

    Dis 1  directed me to a couple of real good places where you could taste the tradition & skill. I just hate bad  lazy imitations of good food.If you are not prepared to do a country's food justice leave it the ### alone.[​IMG]I will get off my soap box now.

    I full blown Texas BBQ joint is opening up 5 minutes from my office next week. [​IMG]  Lets hope they get it right. I will report in.
  17. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Great looking tamales Kevin!

    Just was thinking... Husk, bacon, maza, pulled pork, smoked hatch chile. Might grease out to much. But how about this. The tamale fatty!!! I'd use Pops breakfast sausage, couple tamales inside. Wrap with bacon!!! Slice serve with pico and a couple basted eggs,mmmm breakfast!!'
  18. welshrarebit

    welshrarebit Master of the Pit

    I have heard of folks using newspapers where the ink stained the masa or plastic wrap. I even read where in Puerto Rica they make a tamale look-a-like and sometimes use Mr. Coffee coffee filters. Just what I heard.

    We have a large puerto rican community here in Hawaii and their version is made with pork and green bananas wrapped in a banana leaf. It's called a pastelle, pronounced pa tell eh. There are people that sell them on the side of the road. It's really good!!!
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2014
  19. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    What a great tutorial, Kevin. I also was only lukewarm on tamales until I went to a cooking course in Puerto Moreles. They had Mexican Chefs teaching and two local mothers "helping out". When it got to tamales, I listened to the mothers and now they are one of my favourite dishes too but I haven't made any in years. I do believe you have inspired me.


  20. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Personally I think you should be down there showing them how to do it! You could offer a multi-cultural menu with the BBQ. Get 3 or 4 cute little helpers to work for you and train how you want them to do it. then just keep a back up learning as a replacement and you be the boss. I can see it all now, "Moikel's the Original Aussie Hooters BBQ!"
    Thank you Case.

    There ya go again, you just want to cook 'em in a mini! LOL..... I saw that stack of tamale pots in the Mini thread and here I am without one. LOL
    We have a large puerto rican community here in Hawaii and their version is made with pork and green bananas wrapped in a banana leaf. It's called a pastelle, pronounced pa tell eh. There are people that sell them on the side of the road. It's really good!!![/quote]
     'Pastellitos' is awfully close and I was told they were tamales with plantains too. That's pretty wild how foods travel completely around the world. Don't you love how they evolve to reflect their locale. I have seen 'em both as tamales and as empanadas or fried pies type pastries. You know they are super cheap to make and really a great meat with a built in carrying container. And in the south we thought ourselves smart figuring out hoecakes. LOL

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