There are two things I'd like to learn how to make well. ...and then....when I learn how to make those well, I'll pick something else I want to learn how to make well....it's just the kinda gal I am.
One-is macaroni and cheese. I can't explain this b/c it's not like it's going to ever fit in my calorie count....ever. This also hinders my search FOR the perfect mac and cheese recipe because making it means eating it, and I'm back at the beginning. http://christyrobbins.blogspot.com/2009/08/mac-and-cheese.html I've tried out a few recipes without a lot of success, despite certain food network personalities assuring me otherwise.
The other thing I'm personally obsessed with learning to make are tamales. I found this crockpot recipe, and have tried it twice, and liked it. http://christyrobbins.blogspot.com/2008/12/tamales.html I wanted to try out a pork recipe....and I wouldn't mind a little more seasoning. I did a lot of research, and two more trials, before pulling this together this past weekend. I keep adapting it, but decided to toss it out there into blog world. The verdict is that it is my favorite thus far. The key is that I'm not just trying to make tamales, but I'm trying to make them as easy as possible....you should see some of the instructions out there! It's not as much about effort and skill as it is about time at this point. I took 7 printed recipes, random bottles of spices I own, the back of the corn husk package, the back of the masa package, a no fear philosophy, and an intensive google search to come up with the following. Feel free to add any hints to spicing things up, while allowing me to also keep my sanity, and please don't judge my rolling technique...the tamale rollers of the world are safe with me on the prowl.
I even took pictures.
1. Place 1 1/4 lb. pork loin, 2 c. beef broth (I used a can, plus one cup of water), 2 cloves (diced) garlic, 1 chopped onion, 1/2 t. cayenne, 1 t. chili powder, 2 t. cumin, 1 t. oregano, 1 t. salt, 1/2 t. fennel seeds, 1 can of chopped green chilies (with the water), and 1/2 t. ground chipotle seasoning in a crock pot. Cook for 6 hours.
I then cooked 3 dried chili pods (after removing the stems, and seeds WEARING GLOVES (I've learned this the hard way)) in a simmering pan for twenty minutes.
I then used a blender to pulse this, strained the water, and added this strained mixture to my meat mix. I let it marinate with the meat for an hour. You should do this the day before, which I usually do and let it marinate. It just soaks into the meat and gives it a great flavor! I'd also kick up the kind of peppers I was using if I weren't surrounded by people with delicate palates.
2. Shred the pork, and strain the remaining stock in the pot, but don't toss this out! I put the bits of chili, and onion in with the pork, and I used the remaining broth in the next step. (You can also toss some corn in at the beginning of the meat cooking for an additional texture.)
Mix 4 c. masa harina, 2 1/2 c. broth (I used what I had set aside, and it actually ended up being more than enough after cooking. I figured this took care of some additional seasoning, though you can continue to season with some of the spices you toss your meat with), 2 t. baking powder, 1 t. kosher salt, 1 1/3 c. crisco (lard). Mix.
(You can also buy tamale dough pre-made in a package at the store (the cold section), but both stores I went to were out of the stuff....it was so sad b/c I had really wanted to be lazy.)
Assembly: Soak corn husk for 2 hours (I didn't do this, they actually will work after 10-20 minutes in hot water, but I know they'd be better at 2 hours, so....do what I say, not what I do). Place a palm size ball of masa on a corn husk.
I used the palm of my hand to flatten this down, and then add 2 T of filling down the middle of the masa.
Roll (I use the husk to roll both ways to make sure the masa is meeting, and then package it up by rolling once, tucking the corners in, and then continuing to roll shut.
Place in a strainer, add water to the pot below. Steam for 2 hours (check to make sure they are ready). Tamales are time intensive, so, I often get to the point where my tamales are in the pot, then put them in the refrigerator, and pull them out the following day to steam. It worked just as well. You have to continue to check the water (every 20-30 minutes) b/c if it runs out you'll have a smokey mess....or....so I hear ;o)....this might or might not have happened at some point in the process of making these this past weekend.
At this point you can add sauce, but I eat mine plain. I've been to Mexico 4 whole times, so, obviously, I'm a real expert on the subject. ;O)
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