I have never been that big of a tamale fan. A thick layer of masa that I find generally tasteless, around a tiny bit of meat. Meh. But then – my mom decided to start making them. And then – they became my most favorite mom-food (and that is a bold statement considering I have a hard time not narrowing that list down to EVERYTHING SHE MAKES). Why are hers so incredible? She seasons the masa – which I believe is integral to a delicious tamal – and then she spreads it relatively thin and loads in the super-delicious filling (meat, veggies, even fruit – she’s done it all). Superb.
Now – she’s been making these for a few years and I’ve helped her roll these bad boys many a time. But I’ve never made them myself. I’ve been too scared to do it on my own for fear of ruining them and in-turn, demolishing my love for the bundles-of-joy. Oh, but we have this half-a-pig in our freezer. And part of that half-a-pig is two very large shoulder roasts on-the-bone. Seems that they would be cooked best in a Low and Slow atmosphere. I could make roasted pork sandwiches. Or… I could stop being a baby and make tamales. After all – I not only have the meat, but I have a huge bag of corn husks and an unopened bag of masa in my pantry. And Tom bought me this wonderfully large cast-iron dutch oven pot for Christmas. Convenient, no?
After a little text-reassuring from my mom (she said, “even not perfect homemade tamales are wonderful” – I thought it was a good point) I decided it was time. You have to start the meat quite early. Especially when you’re making a batch that requires lots of fat and bone removing like my hunk of meat did. But very soon into the cooking process the entire house will smell divine. Di-Vine, I tell you. Oh my. For hours we were smelling that lovely scent – and then it was time to start the masa and get down to business.
I decided to time myself to see how long it would take from the moment where I began mixing the masa (this was after I gathered all the ingredients) to when I placed the steamer pot on the stove, full of tasty packages. I did this by myself (Tom was busy helping me with other dinner aspects as well as keeping the kids occupied) – and it ended up being almost exactly an hour. 59 minutes, if I remember correctly. Not too bad considering we ended up with enough tamales for 5 meals (two dinners, three lunches – and remember – my kids are crazy and didn’t eat any so it was just 2 people chowing down). All that hard work? Worth it. And I have another roast sitting in my freezer just begging for another go-round. Soon. Very soon.
( I realize I labeled this as a “recipe” – I do have the recipe, but my mom put it together and it’s insanely awesome, but lots of pages. She even gives you a diagram of how to wrap the tamales. If you want it, leave your e-mail in a comment or shoot me a request at email@example.com – I’ll happily reply back with the attachment.)