A comment Shannon made reminded me I needed to update the info on tamales from other countries.
Candida, as per your request..... Enjoy!
I "met" these 3 guys about 4 years ago when they first published an e-cookbook you had to download through Amazon.Â I became an immediate fan and have bought their two published cookbooksÂ Â
Since then they have become three of my best supporters encouraging me on with my next cookbook.... and we have plans to cook together next time I visit family in Miami.
Tamales are known all through the Spanish speaking countries of the New World.Â In most of them the making of tamales is a family affair reserved only for the Christmas holidays, except for Cubans, who prepare them and eat them year 'round.
The ingredients and shapes might vary slightly from country to country - and in one country they are completely different and called something else: The Puerto Ricans make their "pasteles" using a combination of meats and mashed plantains wrapped in pieces of banana leaves instead of the traditional corn masa and the use of corn husks.
The Puerto Ricans brought their version to HawaiiÂ during their migration to the islands to work in the cattle and sugar industries about a 100 years ago.Â Sometime during this trip the first S in the word pasteles was dropped andÂ are now known locallyÂ as pateles.
This Cuban tamale recipe from The 3 guys is one of the best, if not the best, I have ever made.
1-1/2 pounds pork in chunks
Pinch of salt
2 whole peeled garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon vinegar
3 cups ground fresh or frozen corn
3/4 cup lard, butter or shortening
2-1/2 cups chicken broth, warm
2-1/2 cups masa harina (finely ground corn flour)
1 teaspoon Bijol powder for color (or sub w/yellow food coloring)
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 cups finely chopped green (bell) pepper
Olive oil for sauteing
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup red or white wine
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Corn husks (soak dried corn husks in hot water before using)
For the meat you need pork with plenty of fat, either well marbled or with a fat layer or both. We've had good luck with de-boned country-style pork ribs. Or have the butcher cut something to order.
Cut the pork into smaller pieces - no more than 2 inches thick and 3 inches long. Add a pinch of salt and place it in a 3 quart saucepan. Add water to just barely cover the meat. Add garlic cloves and vinegar. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, until all of the water has boiled away. Be sure to keep an eye on it. This process will render some of the fat out of the meat.
Fry the pork pieces in this rendered fat just until lightly brown but not too crispy. The meat should be tender and stringy. Remove the meat. Trim off any excess fat (there shouldn't be any) and break the meat into small shreds. Set aside.
Slice the kernels off a cob of fresh sweet corn until you have 3 cups (or use frozen corn). Quickly grind the corn in a food processor with your choice of fat (lard, butter or shortening) until you get a very coarse mixture with visible corn kernels. Don't over-process
Remove the corn from the processor and place in a large (8 quart) stockpot. Blend warm chicken broth and 2 cups masa harina into the ground corn. Add the Bijol powder to give it a nice yellow color.
Saute the onion and green pepper in olive oil at medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft. Add garlic and continue to saute for 2 - 3 minutes. Do not drain off excess oil. Mix tomato paste in warm water and add it and the wine to the vegetables. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add the pork and vegetable mixture to the corn mixture in the stockpot. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir. Cook at low heat, stirring frequently (don't let it burn!) until it thickens - about 20 minutes. Add more masa as necessary to make a stiff but pliable paste. Taste and add salt if needed. Remove from heat and cool.
To make the tamales, take 2 corn husks and overlap them flat on the table. Put some of the meat and corn mixture in the center of the husks. Fold the husks over the filling the short way, and then fold the long way from the ends. Tie with string.
Tamales are best cooked in a large pot with about 2 inches of water in the bottom. If you have the little insert that keeps the food off the bottom, great! Add the tamales standing them on end, and cover the pot. Bring water to boil and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer/steam about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
To make ham tamales use the same recipe, only sub the pork with finely chopped ham. Don't fry the ham, but do blanch it in boiling water for 1 - 2 minutes. This will draw off any excess fat and reduce some of the "hammy-ness" (If you have an excellent tasting premium ham, you can onit this step) Add the ham to the corn mixture as the last addition before filling the husks.
YIELD; 9 to 12 servings
SOURCE: The Three Guys from Miami Cook Cuban
To learn more about the 3 guys from Miami, visit their website http://icuban.com/3guys/