In San Antonio the Tamalada and Christmas are synonymous. A traditional Tamalada is an opportunity for the ladies of the family to have a party while making the holiday tamales. From there it grew into a Christmas party where tamales play a starring role on the menu. The tamale dates back to the Mayan and Aztec cultures where warriors used them as portable food. Today tamales come in a variety of flavors from pork to pineapple, but the traditional pork is my favorite. San Antonio’s Lanier High School recently sponsored a world record Tamalada where 1,300 volunteers made over fifteen thousand tamales. Now that’s a lot of tamales!
Homemade Tamales (Note – traditional pork tamales were made by boiling a pig head, but I won’t even go there)
1 1/4 pounds pork loin 2 cups masa harina 1 large onion, chopped 1 (10.5 oz) can beef broth 1 clove garlic 1 tsp baking powder 4 dried chile pods 1/2 tsp salt 2 cups water 2/3 cup lard or shortening 1 1/2 tsp salt 1 (8oz) pkg dried corn husks
Place pork in Dutch oven with onions and garlic, add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until meat is tender, about 2 hours. Use rubber gloves to remove the stems and seeds from the chile pods. Put pods into a saucepan with 2 cups water. Simmer uncovered for twenty minutes, then remove from heat and cool. Blend chiles and water until smooth. Strain the mixture, stir in salt and set aside. Shred the cooked meat and mix in one cup of the chile sauce.
Soak the corn husks in a bowl of warm water for at least twenty minutes. Beat the lard with a tablespoon of broth until fluffy. Combine the masa harina, baking powder and salt. Stir into the lard mixture, adding liquid until you form a smooth dough.
Spread 2 tablespoons of the masa on the center of a corn husk. Place about 1 tablespoon meat mixture in the center of the masa. Fold in sides of the husk and fold up the bottom. Continue process until all tamales are made. Steam tamales forty minutes.
Feliz Navidad and a very Merry Christmas