Yesterday was spent making tamales... 120 or so of them. And they were good. Really, really good. Certainly worth the all-day effort they took. Up until yesterday, though I love tamales and grew up in Arizona, I didn't know how to make them. My great-aunt did, but I never got in on that, much preferring to spend the day digging in the yard outside with my brother.
One of the joys of opening your home to others is that you get to share in their traditions and learn from them. When I asked HG what her Christmas traditions were and she answered making tamales, I jumped on it. "You know how to make tamales?!" I asked. "Can you teach me to make tamales? Do you want to make tamales in December? Please, please, please?" (I don't think I was quite that pathetic, but it comes pretty darn close.) So we agreed to make tamales.
We picked yesterday and HG helped bring in the necessary supplies. Now, when I say 'we' made tamales, what that really means is that HG made tamales, I hovered around the edges watching, asking questions, and writing down everything that was done. Making the masa (the corn meal dough) is the trickiest part of the process. It's a bit like making pie crust in that it helps to know what it's supposed to look like at each stage and very difficult to describe in words. What I really should have done was take photos of each step. When it came time to fill the tamales, I was able to help. It's a little tricky to spread the masa on the corn husk, but by the end, I was pretty good.
I did take one picture, because I remembered at the end that I should and it seemed much easier than trying to describe how to place the corn husks in the steamer. (We ended up with 5 pots/steamers full of tamales. Who knew I had so many steamers?)
We ended up making two kinds: one filled with peppers (jalepenos), onions, tomatoes and cheese and the other filled with chicken and a green chili (made with jalepenos and tomatillas) sauce. I liked them both. A lot. And so did everyone else. I think TM (who wasn't sure about them) ended up eating his weight in tamales. The pile of empty corn husks in front of his plate was particularly large.
And you know what's even better? We still have quite a few left over!