Today was tamale making day. It is a very stressful day in the amount of work that goes into the day, but it is one of my favorite days of the year. This family tradition has been going on for several decades, and I feel honored to be part of it.
Anyway, I started by making some healthier tamales using my previously posted recipe for the masa mixture, and I cooked up several pounds of ground turkey and spiced them pretty much by feel. I did up a few dozen of them while watching the Broncos get killed by the Bills. I steamed them up while waiting for the rest of the crew (Mother, Sister, Brother, Cousins, and several friends) to start arriving. My brother dubbed my tamales as not being really tamales, but still decent enough to eat. High praise! We decided that because of the olive oil and turkey that they were really Italian Thanksgiving tamales.
Anyway, back to the tamales that we normally make. This was a big batch, and as usual, I didn’t count the entire amount that were made. I am terrible at that. I would estimate that there were about 40-50 dozen made tonight. The total amount of pork was around 35-40 pounds, and we used four bags of masa. This picture is the mess of 11 dozen tamales when one or two basically explode and you get the mixture all over the inside of the pressure cooker.
We have a recipe of sorts. In fact, we made a concentrated effort a few years ago to write it down. So the recipe for the masa and pork mixtures are written on a couple of small note book pages and are kept with the pressure cooker in my garage until it is time to get back to work on Christmas Eve per our tradition.
This time, I decided to write down the recipe for the meat and for the masa mixture here on my blog just in case somebody breaks in and steals my pressure cooker or our house burns down. For the geeks out there, it is my disaster recovery plan for future Christmas Eves.
Anyway, here it is:
Meat Mixture (in multiples of 10 lbs)
10 lbs of Pork – Slow cooked and ground. I use the largest size when I grind it, but this year my Mom and Sister shredded it. Keep the pork drippings.
1.5 oz Gebharts Chili Powder
1 oz Molido Chili Powder
4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed and ground or extremely finely chopped in a food processor
2 Tbs of ground Cumin
1 cup fat from pork drippings
4 Tbs salt
Water as necessary to easily mix the ingredients and to cook the pork through with the spices
Two bags Masa – they are four pounds or 4.4 pounds in most cases
6 Tbs salt
2.5 Cups pork fat drippings
3 pounds of Lard
1.5 oz of Gebharts Chili Powder
.5 to .75 oz of Molido Chili Powder
Water as necessary, it should be about 10 cups
The challenge is much like the hot dog to hot dog bun ratio issue. It is almost impossible to get the ratio just right.
Once the masa mixture is spread on the hoja leaf, meat mixture added, and they are all put into a pressure cooker, we cook them at 15 pounds of pressure for 45 minutes, it takes a good while to get up to 15 pounds of pressure, so it usually takes about 90 minutes to cook a batch. Of course, we have a huge pressure cooker/canner that allows us to put about 10-12 dozen in at a time. I have also steamed tamales a dozen at a time in a steamer for a little over an hour with good results.