I find tamale making an art form—albeit an intimidating one. I’ve helped with Christmas tamales under the tutelage of my friend Billy Gutierrez. He calls the creation 300 tamales every December a “family tradition and culinary joy.”
I’ve always thought good tamale makers had to originate or, at least, have lived “south of the border, down Mexico way.” (An old Gene Autry song). So I was astonished when, Austin—-taking his turn at grandma-sitting here at the farm—-announced he was making tamales!
First, Enjoy the Nibbles: Guacamole and Crackers
The Assembly Line
A Team Effort
Tamale making is not a solo task. You need a tamale team—those who know how to smear the masa onto the cornhusks smoothly and evenly, but not too close to the edges.
Others need to apply the meat mixture—not too heavy; not too light—and roll the whole thing into a perfect cornhusk package. The person in charge of steaming arranges the tamales in a large pot, ready to be cooked for more than an hour. Luckily, Russ, Deb and Robin were willing participants in the assembly line effort.
We made a few calls to Billy, but other than that, we were on our own. I was surprised at how quickly we had a pot of tamales. (Austin had made the two meat mixtures—chicken and pork—the night before.) We served the tamales for dinner along with black beans, corn salad, rice, guacamole, kale salad, and several sauces.
I’ve got to say, Austin and the tamale team nailed this one. The tamales not only looked good, they were muy delicioso!
Happy Cinco de Mayo!