Carnitas & Cheese Tamales

Tamales For Beginners - Sweetheatchefs.com

**FIRST OFF, please bear with me on the formatting of this post, I have tried everything I know to get it to look right, but it is not working. This post should have been published a week ago! Sorry The Mystic Blue Spice Co.

I took the past week of my life to try new adventures in the kitchen, keyword adventure. From crying, laughing, cursing, to smiling; it took place here. I never knew how much was at stake when I started this blog. I want to please my readers with quality food and ingredients along with perfect pictures to match what goes on in my kitchen. This week has been all but forgiving on my sanity, from losing the cotton twine to tying my tamales (subsequently finding it a few weeks later!) to losing 58 of the pictures for all my recipes and to put the whip cream on top, my blog formatting has all gone haywire! *insert BIG SIGH*! What technology can not take from me, is my recollection of my experience and the tricks and tips I can pass on to you, which I do wholeheartedly LOVE to do.

I thought the idea of making tamales sounded not only fun, but accomplishing. I read reviews and tips and ideas on how and what to do. I got advice from my mom who had made them for my son. I personally didn’t care for them. I have had a few in my day that were ok but nothing like knocking the ball out of the park delicious. So as with anything if it isn’t really that good why bother to eat it. Well my son and daughter both love them, so I decided I should probably figure out this feat.

After researching I compiled my list of ingredients, planned the day to do it, because after all it takes all day unless you break it into 2 – 1/2 days. I got all my equipment sorted, cleaned laid out and ready. I am telling you I could not be more ready for this than I was…or so I thought. I started at 11:30 cooking the meat, and all the sauces. By 7:00 pm that night I was still…steaming…tamales! Keep  in mind, in between I am running to and from school picking kids up and dealing with a 2-year old with a short attention span!

I suppose if you grow up in a household which makes these all the time or if you do this enough times you will be a pro. A beginner, will feel like it’s your first time writing your own name…remember that? I don’t want to deter you from trying to do this, I am just forewarning you it is tedious, time-consuming, rewarding, messy, frustrating and FUN!

If you have leftover sauce, meat and or masa, freeze it and the next go round won’t be as time-consuming. The goods will keep int he freezer for about 2-3 months!!

Now for the lowdown…

Things to know about making tamales, for tamale making dummies, aka beginners!

  1. Get all your ingredients laid out before you begin.
  2. Have your meat prepared ahead of time, this will save you time when taking on this project. Make the night before and refrigerate. Then you only have sauce to make and assemble day 2.
  3. Organize a large work space for assembling the tamales and a place to put them before steaming begins.
  4. Get yourself some type of cotton ties to secure the tamales. If you are not using cheese or a sauce, you won’t need this. If you are using cheese or a sauce you will WANT these!
  5. If you are making more than 1 type; meat & cheese, green sauce meat & cheese, red sauce meat & cheese, then be sure to label them or keep them grouped together, so you know what is what when you are done.
  6. Buy the largest corn husks you can find. The small ones are useless, unless you use 2 together  but when using sauce, it creates more of a mess (in my opinion!)
  7. Keep unused corn husks soaking in water the entire tamale making adventure.
Tamales For Beginners - Sweetheatchefs.com

INGREDIENTS

Meat
  • 2# pork picnic roast
  • 1 medium red onion large chopped 
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced in half
  • 2 tbs oregano
  • 1 tbs The Mystic Blue Spice Co. tamale seasoning

Mystic Blue Spice Co - Tamale Seasoning

Masa Dough
  • 3 1/2 cups dried masa harina for tamales
  • 3 3/4 cups hot reserved pork broth or hot water
  • 10 ounces or 1 1/3 cups vegetable shortening softened
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 package dried corn husk leaves
Filling Green
  • 4 Poblano Peppers
  • 4 Anaheim Peppers
  • 4 tomatillos
  • 12 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
  • 19 oz verde enchilada sauce (mild) Las Palmas
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
Filling Red
  • 2 tbs. vegetable shortening
  • 1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 ancho chiles, toasted, stemmed, seeded, soaked in very hot water for 15 minutes, and drained
  • 2 guajillo chiles, toasted, stemmed, seeded, soaked in very hot water for 15 minutes, and drained
  • 1 cups canned enchilada sauce Las Palmas
  • 1 1/2  cups (approximately) reserved pork cooking broth or lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1 tbs. masa harina
  • 1 tbs. brown sugar or honey; more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp The Mystic Blue Spice Co. tamale seasoning
  • 12 oz Monterrey jack shredded cheese
DIRECTIONS

Meat
  1. In stock pot, add 8 cups water plus all ingredients.
  2. Bring to boil and continue to cook for 2 hours covered.
  3. KEEP ALL COOKING LIQUID
  4. Add meat to baking pan add 2 cups liquid and place in oven on 275 F. degrees for 1-2 hours. Check to make sure liquid does not evaporate and add more if so.
  5. When done remove from oven allow to cool and shred with fork.
Filling Green
  1. Roast the peppers under a broiler, turning occasionally until all sides are charred really well nice and dark.
  2. Place the charred peppers into a bowl covered with plastic wrap for 15 minutes to sweat and make the skin peel.
  3. In a medium stock pot, add olive oil and garlic, heat on medium heat until aromatic; about 2-3 minutes. keep heat low, do not burn garlic.
  4. Add verde enchilada sauce and bring to a boil, then simmer covered on low.
  5. While the sauce is simmering, peel the skins off the peppers and tomatillos. For the peppers remove all seeds, then roughly chop and add to verde sauce, for tomatillos, peel skin and rough chop. Add peppers and tomatillos in food processor and blend until smooth. Add to simmering sauce, cover and continue to simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  6. When done, take off heat and set aside to cool.
Filling Red
  1. Place dried chilies in a bowl of hot pork broth or hot water for 15 minutes.
  2. When chilies are done, heat 1-1/2 tbs. of the shortening in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until beginning to brown, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the masa and stir creating a thick paste.
  4. Add in soaked chiles & broth they soaked in, enchilada sauce, sugar, oregano, tamale seasoning, and the broth.
  5. Continue simmering on medium low until the sauce has darkened in color, 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally  (The sauce may be made up to 2 days ahead; keep refrigerated.)
  6. Set aside and let cool.
  7. Once cool place in batches in the food processor until a smooth consistency. Replace in stockpot and set aside to cool.
 Masa Dough
  1. Combine the masa harina and 1.5 cups hot broth or hot water stir until mixed well.
  2. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the lard or shortening with the salt and baking powder until light in texture, about 1 minute.
  3. Continue beating as you add the masa mixture in three additions.
  4. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add additional broth or water 1/4 cup at a time and continue beating for another minute or so, until a 1/2-teaspoon dollop of the batter floats in a cup of cold water (if it floats you can be sure the tamales will be tender and light).
  5. Beat in enough additional broth to give the mixture the consistency of soft, but not runny cake batter; it should hold its shape in a spoon.
  6. Taste the dough and season with additional salt if you think necessary.
  7. Refrigerate the batter for an hour, then use an electric mixer to beat enough additional broth to bring the mixture to the soft consistency it had before. About 1/2 – 3/4 cups worth.
Corn Husk Leaves
  1. Unfold the husks and place in a baking dish full of hot water, for approx 1 hr before ready to roll tamales. I placed a second dish on top to hold water and husks under water.
  2. Remove husks, a few at a time from the water, dry completely before use and set aside.
  3. Place 2-4 tbs of masa dough on the husk and work into a square or rectangular shape to lay the base for the meat and sauce mixture.
Steaming
  1. Work in batches; Use a large steamer or collapsible vegetable steamer set into a large, deep saucepan
  2. Line the steamer with leftover scraps of corn husks to protect the tamales from direct contact with the steam and to add more flavor, but make sure to leave small spaces between leaves so condensing steam can drain off.
Preparing the Tamales
  1. Lay out a corn husk
  2. Spread 2-4 tbs of masa dough over it creating a rectangle or square depending on size of husk.
  3. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the meat, 1 tbs cheese, and 1 tbs sauce over the dough
  4. Roll the corn husk away from you starting with the long end and work away from you.
  5. Tuck the left skinny side of the husk under and set aside. This leaves the top open and exposed. If you have cotton or corn ties, use these to tie each end instead of tucking under. (The tie is an optional step and the tamale will cook and be perfectly fine if this step is skipped)
Steaming the Tamales
  1. Place as many tamales as you can fit into the steamer. Stand them upright so the open end is up. (If using ties the placement of ends will not apply) Once in the steamer, set the lid in place and steam over a constant medium heat for about 1 1/4 hours. (Watch carefully that all the water doesn’t boil away, add more water if necessary)
  2. The tamales are done when pressed are a firm consistency. If mushy, they are not done.
  3. Let tamales stand in the steamer off the heat for a few minutes to firm up.

Tamales For Beginners - Sweetheatchefs.com

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