Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tamale MANIA!

WARNING: You will NOT find any pretty or staged food pictures in this post. Anywhere. This is REAL, messy, family cooking and it is NOT pretty but it is OH so yummy!!!!

For my entire life, we have eaten tamales for Christmas. I am half Mexican (my mom's side) and it is just something we always did. We used to buy tamales from a lady and her family that made delicious home made tamales. Eventually, she got too old to do it and her children took over. They just weren't the same anymore and we were left with only one option.....make our own. Let me just say that it is a TON of work!! My mom and uncle do most of the prep work before we even start making them as a family. My mom cooks the meat and strips any and all of the fat off of it. She makes red chili sauce from scratch. FROM SCRATCH. Like cleaning dried chilis, boiling them, pureeing them, etc. It is intense. Luckily we buy pre-made masa (aka masa preparada) otherwise the process would take even longer. Anyway, we end up making a 40 dozen!!!! Oh, and, they are DELICIOUS!!! Here are some pictures :)

Here is a shot of my mom (red shirt) and aunt Annie hard at work getting everything ready:

ONE of the many batches of meat...this is pork (we also use Chicken)
The YUMMY chili aka liquid gold!
The masa (this is 2 of the four bags that we buy pre-prepared from a Mexican market)
And the hojas (pronounces o-has) have to soak them in boiling water so they are pliable and easier to wrap
First step to making to tamales is to make sure your rugrats are happy and out of the way:

And here is a little tamale making tutorial for you:
First you lay out the hoja on a flat surface:
Next, you spread on a thin/thick layer of masa:
Next you add a scoop of meat and sauce (this one happens to be chicken and green chile):
Then you carefully wrap it up like a burrito (with the tail out):
And then you're done! Then you steam them in a pot for about an hour or more depending on how many are in the pot. Well, if you're in my family, you repeat the process like a zillion times until your kitchen looks like this......
(this is one of the two drawers out of my refrigerator....we filled them both)

Um...yeah. ha ha! kitchen is under there somewhere ;)
And here's a shot of my cousin Danielle and I relaxing in the mess :)
And my goofy brother who came for moral support (and didn't make ONE tamale, ha ha)! The guys never help, they only eat :)
Unfortunately I don't have any pretty pictures of this delicious food. It's messy and soooooo delicious! My mom also makes THE BEST pinto beans on the planet (they are in the works as we speak).

My sister and I joke around about how this tradition will most certainly die with my mom. We are no where near qualified to do all of the prep, nor do we have even a quarter of the stamina that she does. Many years from now, we will be sitting around the table with all of the cousins, enjoying the tamales we bought from Costco and reminiscing about the ones our sweet mama used to make and how much more delicious they were!! Ha ha!!! MANY many years I hope ;)

Feliz Navidad!!!


  1. YUMMY!!!!!! i wish i could come over for some chicken tamales! love them! we had a friend whose daughter had her quinceanera and there were authentic tamales there that were made by the family and they were AMAZING.

  2. Oh man those look sooooo good! I love tamales!! Now I'm craving them.
    Feliz Navidad!!

  3. Ali this reminds me of growing up in AZ....ladies in the neighborhood would make tamales and sell them to the other families....They were the best, one time my sis and I tried to make them...Oh boy, is it work but they are worth it....Funny, I buy mine at Sam's club now, haha! Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful Holiday!

  4. YUM!! Not only do I want some tamales but now I want an A&W root beer too :)

  5. This is awesomeness on a whole other level!!! LOVE

  6. Such a fun time of year (and labor intensive too - argh!). I love being part of this tradition with you, sister. Family love is the BEST. xo Now lets eat!

  7. OMG..I wish you could mail me some of those...They look sooooo good!

  8. Oh, how I wish I could make those tamales magically appear in front of me right now--they look de-freaking-licious! (I've only eaten a little bit of eggs this AM, and have since snacked on chocolate pound cake and Christmas cookies--I need real food!) What a special, if not labor-intensive, tradition to have!

  9. These are REALLY hard work. I'll never forget Darcy & I making them in Iowa one day and having to call you in CA..."Help, Ali!"


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