One of the biggest family and friends parties that we hold each year is the annual Christmas Eve tamale making party.
We all gather, including many cousins, and some friends that can only make it during the holidays, together and throw together several bags of masa, several pounds of lard, 20 – 30 pounds of pork, and somehow by 4 – 5am on Christmas day, the result is 60-70 dozen tamales.
It is pretty scary, but this tradition goes back several generations. We almost stopped one year when my aunt and uncle were going through a divorce and they were the ones with the huge (yep, HUGE) pressure cooker needed to make all of those batches of tamales. My favorite niece and her cousins pitched a fit about it and really pretty much demanded that we continue on despite the problems in the family. It was an interesting time running around on December 23rd that year trying to find a big enough pressure cooker, but we finally found one and dispatched my brother 40 miles from his home to get it.
Generally, we start about noon on Christmas Eve, and finish the production of the tamales around 8 – 10 hours later. Cooking is what takes all the time, and that is my job. This year, it went until 5:30 am. I was beat!