Winter is coming. Time for tamales, more specifically duck-lard enriched masa tamales filled with meat. In the batch's below, Two kinds of corn were used. One came from a farmer's market. The other came from a native Iroquois source, which gave it a beautiful shade of brown and nuanced flavor.
Nixtamalization is the process to make masa using calcium hydroxide (also known as "CAL"). You boil and soak the corn in the CAL, then grind it. It's a method from the Meso-Americans that we enjoy in flat-corn tortilla, tamales, and many other south-of- the-border favorites. My curiosity to try it led me online to find the "Cal" and, once it arrived, go to work. Below are photos of how it went.
I like tamales. No, I love 'em. Playing with a steamed halibut special at work, I ended up complementing the dish with fresh corn tamales. I served it with roasted yellow grape tomato salsa, chipotle, ramps and tomato corn salad. Maybe I was channeling my inner Bobby Flay, all to say it was a boldly flavored day. Here's what it looked like!
Fall is the season for tamales, hallacas or humitas, three more treats from our South American cousins. I could eat any of these, year round. Made from corn meal mixed to a masa, they are filled with meat, vegetables and steamed for a comforting meal. Below are some pork tamales I made for my wife's friends.
The recipe was loosely based on my favorite masa recipe from Rick Bayless'sbook, and the filling was inspired by Norman Van Aiken's rendition for Venezuelan hallacas from The Cook's book. This is a versatile and forgiving food, very easy to make. Fillings can be customized without feeling you have to be culturally or politically correct. It's food for heaven's sake!
Hey all... just made it back from Christmas weekend with maman. Then a blizzard hits and I am out of food. All to say, it's a perfect time for making tamales!
A few weeks ago I tasted a trio of tamales at Momofuku, a terrific Asian "noodle bar" on New York City's Lower East Side. All were delicious but one, in particular, stuck in my head. It's made with pork and kimchi... bringing fermented cabbage, fatty pork and lard and corn masa to steamy matrimony. Glorious!
So here I am at home, figuring out my rendition.... Here goes, though note: get supplies before you're snowed in!
My adaption is to use goose lard, which makes for a deliriously delicious version.
Now the filling, which us not traditional, but the flavors are spot on; slightly fermented, spicy and, well, sort of a familiar sauerrkraut taste. I thickened the braising liquid with maseca, as does Rick Bayless. And I used a pork shoulder cut into pieces, browned and pressure cooked for about 15 minutes with just about 11/2cup of water with some onions and garlic cloves. Then I shred the tender pork and cut up some store-bought kimchi, covered it with my remaining cooking liquid, and simmered till soft. Then I whisked in about half a cup of broth with maseca, and brought it back to a boil till it was slightly thickened. Instead of banana leaf I used corn husks, which I had and I wasn't going back out in yesterday's blizzard for some insane mission, even if I love tamales!
During this last batch, I thought of also doing something with pork from David Chang's recent book, but I didn't have time I was hungry...that's for when I have patience!