Sunday, December 12, 2004

Tamale Party--Ole!

Cary mixes the masa for the tamales while I supervise.

Tamales are fun to make with a crowd and the combination of homemade beer and tamales is unbelievable. WE really know how to have a good time.

A week before Thanksgiving I cooked a turkey in my big canning pressure cooker and deboned it, saving the highly flavored rich broth. The Sunday before Thanksgiving Dave and I took this meat and broth to Cary's house where he and his girlfriend Rose had the prepared masa, ojas or corn husks, and the ancho chiles. Rose has a teeny bit of Mexican blood (100%) and her dad had purchased the masa (ground corn mixed with spices and LARD) in Pilsen, an area near Chicago where many Mexican families live. The ancho chiles were purchased near Cary's house and coincidently many Mexican families live near him too. O what the heck, we're EVERYWHERE!

The dried chiles were simmered on the stove and steeped for an hour to soften them and then whirled in the blender to make a paste. I had previously ground up the turkey meat in the food processor, so the chiles and warmed broth were mixed with the turkey to form the delicious tamale filling. More broth and chili paste were whipped into the masa and the ojas were soaked in a large bucket of warm water to soften.

Cary and Rose surprised us with their new dining room table, a counter-height square of 54". It came with 8 bar stool/chairs, and it was the perfect space to use as an assembly point to make the tamales. Click the link below to see the exact set they got. You know I must include pictures!

Cary lives in a large house that is constantly under construction, of his own doing. His fantasy is to live in a saloon. I swear everything is designed with Tavern Decor. The living room has a big screen TV and a huge fire place. Since we make beer the kitchen counter has brewing carboys filled with wort, at work bubbling and aging.
He always has multiple cats, and makes pets of the squirrels in his yard by feeding them peanuts in a bowl. Even the Blue Jays are hand fed peanuts. Stray cats show up at his door and are fed and eventually become boarders. Yesterday a stray was huddled at the door and the male squirrel, whose name escapes me at the moment, arrived to have a few peanuts. The squirrel practically stepped on the cat and got his peanuts and strolled away. The cat never blinked an eye. He was so intent on being the next diner.

Back to the tamales. Dave was the camera man and folder of the finished tamale husks. Rose and I slathered the husks with the masa and Cary made little rolls of meat for the filling. Dave took a few movie shorts (with his digital camera) of the process and I am embarrassed to say that I was caught telling Rose how much more masa we wanted than she was giving us. Bossy broad that I am!
The homebrew was potent and the first batch of tamales were cooked while we continued to assemble the rest of the ingredients. As soon as the pressure cooker was opened we stopped and ate a bunch of the fresh hot fragrant delicious contents. These soft morsels look unlike anything we had in Mexico, but are exactly what we think of as homemade perfection. Topped with salsa, sour cream, salt and perhaps guacamole, it is food of the gods. Oink.


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