The holidays are here and that can mean only one thing. It is Christmas tamale time. Ever since I was a wee little Mad Meat Genius I have enjoyed tamales at Christmas time. My friend’s mom with help from the women relatives would make a plethora of different flavored tamales this time of year. Chicken, pork, beef and even a sweet tamal with brown sugar and raisins would be made. We would eat our fill and it was good. This time of year I like to recreate this childhood memory by making tamales with my own twist. We are making tamales with some smoked pork shoulder. This should be good.
This was a project that took several days of preparation. The first step was to create the pulled pork. A beautiful pork shoulder was trimmed of fat and massaged with our rub of the day. An eight hour sauna bath in the smoker that was fueled by apple and hickory wood would do the trick. It looked gorgeous with a intoxicating smell to match. You know we had to give this roast a test ride with dinner that night. We had our fill with the added bonus of leftovers for the filling of our tamales.
The next step was to get some fresh masa. We are lucky to be near plenty of Mexican markets. They carry fresh masa. They are sold in three pound packages and are very inexpensive. They also carried different masa flavored with chile peppers, strawberries and pineapple. This sounds very interesting.. This lit the light bulb in my noggin. Why not flavor our masa with some chile powder. A friend gifted me some Hatch green chile powder. This might work.
My first plan was to make a sauce to accompany and flavor the tamales. This sauce consisted of onions, tomatillos, roasted Hatch peppers, chicken stock and spices. These ingredients were sauteed in a pan until soft. The cooled mixture with the addition of fresh cilantro was placed in a food processor to be pulsed to a chunky consistency. Some was added to our left over pork adding another level of flavor. The rest was reserved to serve with the finished tamales.
It is time to assemble. Corn husks were soaked in hot water to soften. We added Hatch chile powder to our masa. A husk is placed on the board. I used a measuring quarter cup to scoop fresh chile spiked masa to place on the husk. I spread the masa over the husk. A generous amount of sauce flavored pork was placed in the center. We rolled the husk to form a cigar shaped form. One end was folded up. Some people like to fold both ends and use a fancy tie to fasten the ends. I have learned from experience that this is not necessary. When you steam the tamales make sure the open end is elevated with the folded end on the bottom of the steamer. This works for us.
We used a bamboo steamer to steam our little packages of fun. Forty five minutes later and it was time to eat. Ms. Goofy proclaimed these were the best tamale’s ever. I did not pay her to say that. (This time). She liked the meat to masa ratio which was heavy on the meat. The chile spiked masa was a nuanced flavor that was pleasant. These tamales did have a chile heat bite from the roasted Hatch pepper sauce and flavoring. We served our tamales with some homemade refried beans flavored with bacon lard. The filling of smoked pork was stellar. Oh my! This was a comforting and filling meal. We have created new Christmas tamale memories today.