I remember my grandma making tamales from scratch, I always loved to help her and I learned the process. The recipes themselves are not that complicated, it's the time and work it takes what makes it tedious. The original dough is made out of dry corn kernels, boiled in an alkaline water solution made with "lime", no, no the kind of lime you squeeze, construction lime, you know, the white powder they use to make plaster and stuff, believe it or not. The result is "nixtamal". Once the corn is tender is whashed, some people peels the skins off the kernels, then is put through a grinder and the result is the "masa". Most of us don't have the time, patience or equipment to do it this way. What I do is buy the "maseca para tamales", it's coarser than the one for tortillas.
Some tips for the best masa you can achieve is to use real lard, the one they scrape off the pig's skin, not the processed lard, it's hard to find but it's worth it, look for a Hispanic meat market, they usually have it. Always whip the lard until fluffy before incorporating to the dough. Always use the stock you have left from boiling the meat for your filling, it will taste way better than store-bought stock. Mix mix mix, by hand, use the cold water method to make sure your dough is ready. The basic rule for 1 kg of maseca is 1/2 kg of lard, 1 tablespoon baking powder or sodium bicarbonate (AKA baking soda) and 1-1/2 - 2 cups stock, +- as needed. Shot me an email if you need filling tips or recipes..
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I remember my grandma making tamales from scratch, I always loved to help her and I learned...