So, here’s what it looks like in my kitchen right now.
These are everywhere. Dried corn husks. Everywhere. The corn husks are not just a wrapper to encase the tamale, they also add more corn flavor to the tamale. The husks will still have some of the corn silk attached and this is when I remove all that, because it resembles hair in texture and color. Not appetizing. Not at all.
After that, they must be soaked in very hot water for at least one hour to make them pliable. In my childhood, this was always my job as the youngest member in my mothers kitchen. In that kitchen, my grandmother and her sisters worked loudly and harmoniously for hours preparing the food, and I loved being a part of it all.
After that, your ready for The Masa. Masa is a classic dough used in so many different Latin American dishes and it’s made from freshly prepared hominy. They sell it in a dried form called Masa Harina, but that would only be used as a last resort.
I use to grind my own. The flavor and texture I achieved made it worth the extra work. But then, I was introduced to the Tortilleria Flor de Mexicali located in Santa Ana by Gustavo Arellano. What a find! And not just the masa, but the tortillas as well. Their product is superior to anything I’ve had in decades. So good that it compares to the finest tortillas in Mexico, (Gustavo confirms the suspicions I’ve always had about the tortilla industry in his book Taco USA), so now I purchase their unprepared masa, and add my own homemade broths and seasonings.
After a thin smear of masa on the husk comes the filling. Pictured is a roast pork carnitas in chile verde stew, which is made with fresh roasted poblanos, jalapenos, tomatillos, garlic and fresh ground spices, along with fresh herbs from my garden to make a mildly spicy rich sauce, which is tossed with fresh roast pork carnitas. Mmmmm.
This is my daughters favorite tamale, a black bean and cheese version with pickled jalapeno and using Monterrey Jack cheese. It’s wonderful served with a fresh Pico de Gallo. Pico de Gallo is good on everything. I always eat my tamale on the husk. It’s tradition…and it’s a rustic and pretty.
These tamales are moist and soft days later. A rare characteristic of even the best tamales, like mine.
The price is $28 per dozen – $25 if you buy over 2 dozen.
Chile Verde – fresh roasted poblanos, jalapenos, tomatillos, garlic, fresh ground spices and herbs from my garden make a mildly spicy rich sauce and tossed with fresh roast pork carnitas.
Black Bean & Cheese – richly flavored, slow simmered black beans with Monterrey Jack and a sliver of pickled jalapenos.
Chicken Fajita – moist chicken breast, roasted red and yellow peppers, poblano peppers, red onion and garlic.