TAMALES FROM EL SALVADOR
I then had a burst of energy and decided to make tamales. Matthew had been begging me to make them and I had a bowl full of turkey left over from Maria and Travis’s reception. I had also bought cans of Garbanzos and a bag of potatoes.
I scrubbed the potatoes and had the children cut them into cubes while I prepared the masa. First of all, I bought “Yukon Gold”potatoes that have a thin skin. This saves time as you do not need to peel them. Secondly, I used leftover Turkey broth (that was canned and in jars) to add to the masa.
This broth came from when I cooked a Spanish turkey. I save the leftover broth to use with other meals. It already has herbs and spices and is super yummy. If you do not can, you could still save it in plastic or glass containers in your freezer.
Below is a link on how to make El Salvadoran Tamales. These are really comprehensive directions, but I will tell you my shortcuts so it will not be as much work.
Then while the potatoes were cooking, I cooked the masa. That is the hardest part as you have to stir, and stir, and stir…
I added 2 quart jars of turkey broth, then I had Rebeca add some oil (I buy the 35 pound containers of Soy Salad Oil from Sam’s…I use this oil for frying, baking, everything…it’s cheaper and works well…I simply cannot afford Olive oil).
Rebeca added more than I normally do, but it was great because they were the best tamales I have ever made. They came out perfect.
Tamales from El Salvador are bigger and are filled with Garbanzos (Chick Peas), potatoes, and either pork or chicken. Yes, people add other things, but these are the most traditional.
Another thing I did different this time was to mix the masa with the mixture (of meat and potatoes). Usually, you keep them separate and put a spoonful of masa on the sheet, then add a spoonful of the mixture.
By combining them, I did half the work and it went quickly. I had them cooking before I left for the open house, and Elizabeth kept an eye on them.
Another step I eliminated completely, was my mother-in-law always puts the Garbanzos in water and washes off the thin skin that covers them. She has always claimed it will toughen and will ruin the tamales. I left the skin on this time just to see.
Not one person knows I did this and everyone has said they are the best tamales ever. I really cannot tell the difference and have taken small bites trying to see whether there is a difference or not. No difference, and not doing this saves about 20-30 min.
Too many times we do something a certain way simply because it’s been done that way for years and years. Many times, it is better to do it the way that has been developed over the years and for good reason. Nevertheless,we should always be looking for how to minimize steps, shorten a process, make the job more efficient.
Making tamales is such a huge task – I keep lookingfor ways to refine and shorten the process until I have the perfect recipe.
One other thing, the link I gave you talks about “recaudo”,the sauce. What I do is I cook a Spanish Turkey for a family meal several days before I want to make tamales or enchiladas. That is our meal, either with rice or with Bolios / Tortas.
I then de-bone the turkey (which is less work than chicken) and save the broth for future meals. This way I have “recaudo” ready to use and do not have to make it. I also use the Spanish Turkey broth for my enchiladas.
Another hint is that if you use store-canned chicken or store bought chicken broth that they do not have as much oil as home cooked stuff so you need to add more oil to the masa.
I also do not use clove as it makes it have a sweet taste. We do not like olives very much so I do not add them. I have had tamales with either black or green olives. I also do not use the Plantain leaves. I have found that many times the leaves are bitter as it is hard to find good ones in Oklahoma or they are frozen. If they are bitter, they ruin the tamales.
It is amazing, but is really doesn’t affect the flavor as what makes tamales good is the masa. Also, as you steam the tamales, remember that when you unfold one to check the masa that while it is super-hot…it will be a little mushy. You have to let it cool for about 20 min to test it. When they are done, they will have a consistency of Jell-O.