Anybody good at making Tamales? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 05-17-2010, 03:07 PM
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So the steam cooking thread got me thinking about tamales. My tamales stick to the corn husk

The masa I use suggests lard or shortening, so I use a vegtable shortening. I am able to get the masa to the right consistency, soak my husks, and simmer some pablano chilis, onion, and whatever else i'm gonna fill em with. But my problem is what I first take them out and eat them, the masa sticks to the corn husks more then it should.

If I let them cool down, I can then unwrap them fine... and heat them. But if I reheat them first, then unwrap, they stick more then I would like. I asked my Mexican friend to ask his mom for me what i'm doing wrong, and she told him I should use lard, not shortening. Now, I don't know if she knows that this is the reason they are sticking or if she's just going by how she learned to do them growing up and assumes that not using lard is the reason.

I should also mention, that i've been using a pressure cooker instead of a traditional steamer. I've messed with the amount of time and i've even opened the pressure release completely so it works just as a regular steamer would... but I see no difference at all.

I've also read that when making the masa, you should be able to drop a marble sized ball of it into a glass of water and it should float... no matter what I do, mine never floats. I don't have an electric mixer, so I was thinking that maybe i'm not whipping up the shortening enough to get enough air in it?

I'm really not sure and was hoping that somebody who can make a killer tamale could give me some pointers on what I may be doing wrong. Until then, i've kinda lost motivation to make tomales and have been sticking to pupusas with lorocco in them.
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#2 Old 05-17-2010, 03:23 PM
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A pressure cooker? NOOOOOOOOO! I would not use a pressure cooker. Big difference.

I used Earth Balance shortening without that problem (but I steamed mine).
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#3 Old 05-19-2010, 07:51 AM
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sounds like they are not being cooked enough, or an issue with masa preparation

and i agree that the pressure cooker may be the number one issue. how long do you leave them in the cooker?

steaming is really easy, but you have to steam for at least 3 hours (depending on the size of tamale and how packed the steamer is)

are you using maseca (masa flour)?

do you add broth?

here is a quick run down of how i usually prepare masa:

2 parts flavorful veg broth, 2 parts maseca, 1 part fat (shortening, coconut oil, EB, all work ok)

whip fat (u don't have to but, it makes the masa fluffy and more like traditional tamales)

warm broth

add both to maseca

whip mixture (u don't have to but it really helps with masa texture)

whipping the mixture will cause that ball floating thing to happen because it incorporates air with the already buoyant fat, but once again not necessary, tamales will just be more dense.

the way i can tell tamales are done steaming is they start to peel away from the husks a bit.

papusas sound amazing, can you share your recipe?
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#4 Old 05-19-2010, 12:26 PM
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I use a bag of maseca and follow what it says... i'm at work, so I can't give you exact proportions... but I boil up some water with "better then bullion" and use that with cold water added... and Crisco shortening. To cook dried black beans in the pressure cooker, it takes about 15 minutes, vs a full hour... or 1/4 the time. I believe the bag of maseca suggest steaming them for an hour or hour and a 1/2... so I have tried pressure cooking them for 30-45 minutes thinking that would be plenty. However, i've also released the pressure valve, so it works just like a steamer and cooked them for 90 minutes with the same results. Maybe i'll invest in a REAL steamer soon... when the ex GF moves out and takes her pressure cooker, i'll need something anyway.

As for the pupusas, 2 parts masa harina and 1 part water... mix it up well and let it sit for 10 minutes or so, then roll it into balls about 2 inches. when you press your thumb into the ball, the sides should squish out without splitting or cracking on the edges much. Now take those balls, put one on wax paper, put wax paper on top and smash it down with a kitchen plate, not too thin, it should be about the thickness of 2-3 corn tortillas. Once you got a bunch of those patties made up, add in whatever you want, and put another pattie on top, pinch the edges together, and cook them on a dry nonstick skillet... about 2-4 minutes per side... you wanna see some browning. Some people don't do the pancake thing... they just get a ball of it, push a dent with their thumb, add the filling(s)... then fold the ball over itself and squish it flat (but not too flat). When i tried it that way, they just seemed too small to fit enough filling. Now i'm trying different variations of the curtido to go with them (cabbage salad... with vinegar and chili pepper). I've only used lorocco flowers or cheese or a combo of both in my pupusas.... but pretty much anything that would be good in a tomale would be good in a pupusa.
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#5 Old 05-19-2010, 01:27 PM
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I used 1/2 cup EB and 1/2 cup coconut oil in my masa. I agree that the problem could be in the steaming process.I made them for the first time not long ago and was surprised at how long they had to steam.

THANK YOU for the pupusa recipe. Can't wait to try that out!!
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#6 Old 05-20-2010, 07:37 AM
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yup it for sure the pressure cooker not cooking the tamales long enough. you can probably keep using the cooker but double the cooking time.

you also don't need to buy a steamer, they are easy to make. take an old aluminum pie tin, poke a bunch of holes evenly all over it, flip it upside down in the bottom of a large pot. sometimes we put washed rocks under for more height. also there is a fairly cheap (i see them at thrift stores all the time too) device used to steam, it is a metal flower that spins open and sits on the bottom of any pot it fits into, very handy here's a pic:

thanks for the recipe!
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