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Tamales

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I moved to Denver a year ago from Arlington and have discovered the delicious goodness that are tamales. Never had one before moving here. I really want to try making my own (realizing they are time consuming) but have no idea where to start. What is a good basic recipe? Any special techniques I should know about? Thanks in advance!

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I moved to Denver a year ago from Arlington and have discovered the delicious goodness that are tamales. Never had one before moving here. I really want to try making my own (realizing they are time consuming) but have no idea where to start. What is a good basic recipe? Any special techniques I should know about? Thanks in advance!

Check on Amazon for a book called _Tamales 101_--the author has a tamale shop in L.A. called Tamara's Tamales (I've managed to eat there a couple of times in the past two weeks.) I've had her book for several years, and I think it is the best basic primer on tamale making out there.

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I moved to Denver a year ago from Arlington and have discovered the delicious goodness that are tamales. Never had one before moving here. I really want to try making my own (realizing they are time consuming) but have no idea where to start. What is a good basic recipe? Any special techniques I should know about? Thanks in advance!

I believe I bought the cookbook zoramargolis references when I got bit by the same bug, or else maybe sat in the Tattered Cover reading it and memorizing what I needed, shame on me. In any event it's good on technique and masa prep etc. (One thing I remember being surprised at was how little masa AND how little filling was needed for each one)

That Bayless recipe surprises me in this regard: I would have thought lard instead of butter. It's been a long time since I made any tamales--they are so cheap and good at any number of little tamale shops and carnicerias here in Denver, you can buy a couple dozen for substantially less than a buck apiece and they freeze very well--but I don't remember using anything but lard. Other than that it seems typical, in my foggy memory.

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That Bayless recipe surprises me in this regard: I would have thought lard instead of butter.

This may explain the butter in the sweet tamale recipe linked below. From James Oseland's blog

I learned a lot of things during my time as a critic on Top Chef Masters — from little details like Rick teaching me that Mexican sweet, fresh-corn tamales never contain lard

There's also this

Classic Mexican tamales are typically made with lard. Bayless prefers butter. Lard "cuts into that fresh flavor," he says.

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This may explain the butter in the sweet tamale recipe linked below. From James Oseland's blog

There's also this

I talked about tamale making with Tamara for a while, in her shop. She sells about 20 different varieties of tamale, including vegetarian and vegan ones. She uses soy-based margarine as the fat in all of her tamales, regardless of the filling--I presume because it is easier to make the same masa mixture to use for all. She varies the recipe only in that she uses chicken broth as the liquid in the meat filled tamales, and vegetable broth in all of the veggie ones, including green corn. She said to me: "The women who work here use lard when they make their own tamales at home. I agree, it's so delicious. But I can't do it here." There is a great amount of misunderstanding and prejudice about lard--it's certainly not more unhealthful than butter. But in Marina del Rey, where Tamara's Tamales is located, she would undoubtedly have a hard time selling tamales made with lard.

In Rick Bayless' book, _Mexico, One Plate at a Time_ there is an excellent chapter on tamales, including illustrations. This is what he says about which fat to use in making masa dough: "Fresh, roasty-tasting pork lard from a Mexican or German butcher, or lard you make yourself (see page 77) is by far the best." For sweet tamales (a category which includes green corn tamales) he gives the option of using butter or vegetable shortening instead of lard.

There is another book, _Tamales_ by Mark Miller, Stephan Pyles and John Sedlar, in which the masa dough recipes are all made with masa harina, not fresh masa, and the fat is either butter or vegetable shortening or a little of both. Too many of the fillings for the tamales in this book are bizarre, as if the three authors had sat around getting high and coming up with the strangest combinations they could think of, as tamale fillings. Veal tamales Milanese with basil and arugula? Beef Wellington tamales with chanterelles and madeira sauce? Coney Island corned beef and cabbage tamales with mustard sauce? Come on.

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Too many of the fillings for the tamales in this book are bizarre, as if the three authors had sat around getting high and coming up with the strangest combinations they could think of, as tamale fillings.

Zora, you just made me laugh so hard I spilled water all over my shirt and my office mates think I'm even more of a total loon than before. Excellent. :rolleyes:

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I have been using the recipe off the side of the masa bag, and it works well.  I also used the dough recipe on the side there, added a few spices, and then used a different filling (shredded turkey, green chile, salsa verde).  I will check out that above recipe though.  After making the dough a few times, I think I have a handle on kind of what the filling needs to be consistency wise to play around with it.  What are others favorite fillings?

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On 12/17/2018 at 11:55 AM, ktmoomau said:

What are others favorite fillings?

Check out the menu at Chaia - maybe even go there and try one of each (tough work, but do it in the name of research).

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