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Tamales De Picadillo
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    Tamales Nortenos #2

  • 1 package dried corn husks
  • 4 cups masa harina
  • 4 cups lukewarm water
  • 4 teaspoons Wyler's granulated chicken boullion
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups lard or vegetable shortening
  • 2 ounces ancho chile, dried
  • 2 ounces pasilla chile, dried
  • 2 ounces guajilla chile, dried
  • 2 ounces New Mexican red chile, dried
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder or beef shoulder roast
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 tablespoons ground chile seasoning
  • 4 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening

    The dried husks are brittle and must be soaked in water to soften them before they can be rolled into tamales. In the package, the husks for a whole ear of corn are usually pressed together. Separate the individual husks being careful not to break them, since they are fragile when dry.

    Place the separated husks in a large pot and cover with hot water. Leave them to soak for about one hour. You can put a plate with a heavy object on it on top of the tamales to keep them submerged. When soft, rinse the husks well and put back into a pot of clean water.

    Toast the dried chiles on a hot cast-iron griddle for a few minutes on each side. Be careful not to burn the chiles or they will have a bitter taste. As the chiles toast, they will become soft and pliable and may puff up. Put aside to cool. The chiles will become very crisp and brittle when cooled.

    When cool, remove the seeds and stems and crumble into small pieces. Put the pieces into a coffee mill or spice grinder and grind into a fine powder. Store the ground chile mix in a jar to use for seasoning other Mexican dishes.

    You can use a variety of meats for making tamales. I use either beef or chicken, but pork is traditional. I also use vegetable shortening, although again, lard is traditionally used in Mexico. Cut the meat into 1" to 2" chunks. Heat the lard or shortening in a heavy bottomed pot and brown the meat. When brown, add enough water to cover the meat and add the onions and garlic. Simmer until the meat is fork tender and flakes apart. For beef shoulder roast this will take about 2 - 3 hours.

    While the meat is cooking, toast the cumin seeds on a cast iron griddle and then grind into a fine powder using a coffee mill or spice grinder and set aside.

    When the meat is cooked tender, set aside to cool. Separate the meat chunks from the broth, reserving the broth. Shred the meat into small strands.

    Heat 2 tablespoons of lard or shortening in a heavy pan, preferably cast iron. Add the chile seasoning and cumin and stir for a few seconds. Add the meat and fry for two or three minutes. Add the reserved broth and simmer until the liquid level is reduced. The mixture should be soupy. Set aside to cool while you make the masa.

    Combine masa, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Dissolve the boullion in the lukewarm water to make a broth. Mix the broth into the masa a little at a time, working with your fingers to make a moist dough.

    In a small bowl, beat lard or shortening until fluffy, add to masa and beat until masa has a spongy texture.

    Remove a soaked corn husk from the water and shake to remove excess water. Start with the largest husks because they will be easier to roll. If you end up with a lot of small husks, you can lay two together, overlapping about 1/2" but this is a little trickier and may take some practice. Lay the husk flat on a plate and spread about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons (depending on the size of the husk) of masa in the center. Don't use too much! The easiest way to spread the masa is to spoon it onto the husk and spread it with your fingers. If the masa is sticky, wet your hands.

    Add about 1 tablespoon of meat filling on top of the masa. Again, don't use too much.

    Now comes the tricky part. Roll the corn husk so that the filling is enclosed in the masa. Don't worry if the filling is not completely surrounded with masa. When the masa cooks it will become firm and the tamale will be fine. Fold over each end. If the husks are very thick, you may find it difficult to fold the large end and get it to stay. If this is the case, don't worry about folding the large end and put that end up when you put the tamales into the steamer. Load the tamales into a steamer standing them up vertically. I use a large pot with a steamer basket in the bottom. When all the tamales are rolled, and the steamer is full, cover with a damp cloth and steam until the tamales are done, about 2 to 3 hours. During steaming it is very important to keep the water at a low boil. Also, DO NOT let the steamer boil out of water.

    TIP: Place a coin, a penny works good, in the bottom of the steamer with the water. You can tell when the water is boiling because you can hear the coin rattling around. If the coin stops rattling, the water has boiled away and you should add more.

    After about 2 hours, you may want to pull out a tamale and sample it. Let it cool for a few minutes and then unroll the husk. The tamale should be soft and firm and not mushy.

    From: Newsgroups: rec.food.recipes
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