As promised from a few months ago, here is a quick tutorial on how to make tamales. I picked up some freshly made corn masa from our friends at Tortilleria Nixtamal for these (if you can get fresh you definitely should) but you can always use the dried corn masa available in most grocery stores and follow the instructions on the back for re-hydrating it to the proper consistency......
First off you will need to soak your corn husks in water and prepare your filling. Corn husks are available at most Latin grocers or here. For the filling, I braised cubed pork shoulder in spices and broth then shredded it with the paddle attachment in the stand mixer after it was tender and beginning to fall apart. You want the mixture to be moist enough that it will hold together kind of like a paste but not so wet that liquid seeps out of it. You can also use refried beans, slices of cooked vegetable, leftover roasted chicken, slivers of cheese or whatever your heart desires. I like my filling to be cool because it is easier to handle and build the tamales.
After this you will need to make your dough. I used fresh corn masa but dried is most commonly available. Just follow the package instructions for re-hydrating the mix. After you have done this, you will need to add salt, baking powder, fat and possibly additional liquid. Since you will most likely be using the dried masa, there will be instructions regarding the ratio of re-hydrated masa to the amount of lard or shortening that you will have to use. The corn masa, fat, baking powder and salt need to be beaten together to make a fluffy dough. The baking powder combined with beating the fat into the corn masa is what will keep your tamale light and fluffy after it is steamed instead of being dense and thick. The dough should be tacky to the tough but not completely stick to your fingers. Another quick test is to drop a spoonful of dough into cold water. It should float just at the surface.
Steam the tamales in a large pot fitted with a steamer basket or any item that can withstand boiling water that will keep the tamales suspended above the water until the dough is fluffy, about 45 minutes to an hour. Since I was steaming in a smaller pot I steamed in batches and also rotated the packets every time I added water to the pot to ensure even steaming. I just check one of the packets after about an hour to see if they are done. If not, seal it tight again and steam for another 15 minutes or so. ENJOY!