Thursday, July 05, 2007

Sherri's Helpful Hints

Making Tamales

To assemble, hold a prepared corn husk flat on one hand, smooth side up. If you need to overlap two husks, have the wide ends in opposite directions (so that it forms a rectangle) and spread the dough over the husks together, just as if they were one husk. With a rubber spatula, spread a thin layer of masa across the husk, but not to the edges. Top with filling spread more thickly through the dough's center, stopping short of the dough's edges. Ensure that the dough's edges meet to enclose all of the filling. Secure the tamale by folding the wrapper over or tying it.

To cook tamales, stack them loosely in crisscross directions or standing them on end in a large steamer and steam for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the tamales. The dough should become firm and spongy and it should not stick to the corn husks.

Filling and Steaming Corn Husk Tamales

Filling the Tamales:

Place the dried corn husks in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak 30 minutes to one hour.

Drain and select as many as you can of the larger pieces, but be careful not to open the crinkled leaves of the core that are full of corn silk.

With a spoon, spread 1/4 to 1/3 cup of Masa dough mixture across the lower (wide) end of the husk, covering it from side to side and extending it about halfway up toward the narrow tip.

For chicken, beef or other filling, place about 1 heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of the Masa mixture.

Fold the left third over to the center and then fold the right side over it, then fold up the narrow end even with the wide end so the tamale is folded roughly in half crosswise. Place the tamales on a baking sheet until ready to steam.

Steaming the Tamales:

Arrange the tamales in a steamer, open ends facing up. Place some of the unused corn husks (and/or a wrung-out wet tea towel) over the tamales to help absorb steam. Pour boiling water into the bottom of the steamer to a depth of at least 1 inch. Cover tightly and bring quickly to a full boil over high heat.

Reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain gentle bubbling.

Cook for about 1 hour or until husks pull away from filling. Replenish boiling water as needed. Let the tamales stand 10 minutes before serving.

Shredded Meat

Basic method is to cut meat into large pieces, then cover it with water. Add salt, onion, garlic and peppercorns, then simmer until it is just tender. Let the meat cool off in the broth. Drain and shred.

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