Tamales and Clay Pots

The family came and went and we ate and ate and ate.  There was turkey and bacalao and romeritos with shrimp cakes and escargot and panela and sopes and on and on and on.  Adolfo and I are trying to radically shift our eating habits back into the norm, but we have so many leftovers in the fridge that we are still eating lots of meat and very few vegetables.

Yesterday a friend invited me over to her house to help make tamales for New Year’s Eve.  I grabbed a box of picadillo out of the freezer and headed over for the afternoon.  She did a couple things with the dough that I don’t remember seeing before, but that make a lot of sense.  The first is the addition of some baking powder.  I think this makes the dough steam up a little lighter.  And the second is the addition of some rice flour.  I’m not sure exactly what the rice flour does, but I like the end results.  She also added a few ice cubes to the mix while we were beating the lard and masa (dough) together.  Keeping the dough cold is probably good for the lard and makes for a slow addition of icewater, which was also needed.

In addition to the picadillo tamales, we made some of beans and cheese, pinapple and strawberry.  I haven’t tried the pinapple or strawberry, yet, but I’ve been promised a couple.  The dough turned out better than many tamales I have tried.  And, my friend’s son (14 mo. old) whipped through half a picadillo tamale before getting fussy and needing a nap.  I think that was an endorsement.

The other exciting thing that happened recently was that Adolfo and I happened upon an abandoned nursery with a crew of guys hauling stuff away.  We stopped and asked if we could take some of the left over pots and they said no problem as they were headed for the dump anyway.  So, I came home with seven new clay pots of various sizes and shapes.  I’ve already planted lettuce, radishes and onions and I’m making plans for the rest of them.

Happy New Year to you all.

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6 Responses to “Tamales and Clay Pots”

  1. Leah Says:

    no pics?

  2. Barbara Says:

    Della, forward Leah my invitation to view my pictures.

  3. nb Says:

    try the carrot soup on p. 204 Veg Cooking for Everyone, but add 2 stalks of celery chopped fine, and use 2 potatoes instead of the rice. Omit spices. When the veg are tender, puree. Beat 2 eggs with 3/4 c. sour cream and 1/2 c. chopped fresh dill. Stir in some hot soup, then stir all together. Don’t boil or it will curdle. Good hot or cold. You can’t freeze this because of the potato, so you may wish to make a smaller batch.

    I wish I had some leftover bacalao for sandwiches. mmmm

  4. Leah Says:

    thanks Barbara, mom and i enjoyed them!

  5. Paul Says:

    Since your mom copped out on the traditional new year’s eve tamale party, Amy and I decided to do our own. We made about 150 with two batches of Masa. The first batch was stiff but made firm tamales. The second was not so stiff, was easy to spread, but the tamales fell apart in the steam. I also used the spreader like I gave your mom last year and it worked great. We got them all done in about an hour.


    Can you get her exact masa recipe?

  6. AJ Burke Says:

    Latino USA had a piece on the best tamales of Latin America – go to http://www.latinousa.org/program/lusapgm081219.html and see CHEF MARICEL PRESILLA. (Also, just beneath that, a story about the goodness of fresh tortillas.)

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