I cooked an Elk roast for Christmas dinner and of course I had leftovers. Figuring I could eat it later I vacuum packed the left over roast and froze it.
For some reason I was craving tamales and decided elk tamales would be awesome.
Tamales are an easy food to prepare but very labor intensive. Fortunately the yummy goodness is worth the work. And if you just suck it up and make a good size batch you can freeze them and enjoy them later.
6 cups masa harina
5 cups warm water or low-sodium chicken broth
Note: I use broth
2 cups lard
3 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoon cumin
3 tablespoon chile powder
2 teaspoons salt
In a mixing bowl combine masa and warm water or broth until combined. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes or so to let the masa soften. Then mix it on low speed until a dough forms.
Note: I prefer to mix by hand.
After the Masa Harina is prepared, gradually add in the salt, cumin and onion powder by sprinkling them over the dough as you mix it.
In a separate bowl, whip lard or shortening about three minutes or until fluffy. Add the lard to the dough a little at a time while mixing until well combined. I start off with a potato masher then finish by hand.
The mixture should be about the consistency of peanut butter. If not, add more masa harina, water or broth as necessary.
Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Typically I don’t even start working on the tamales until they have sat in the fridge for at least four hours.
While the Masa is setting up I get my other tamale necessities together.
Place the husks in warm water for an hour or so to soften up and become pliable.
As the husks soften and the masa continues to chill I put my tamale ingredients in separate bowls to form a makeshift assembly line.
In this case I used my Elk Roast along with a few cups of Shredded Mexican Cheese and a can of Diced Tomatoes w/Green Chilies drained.
Now the fun begins!!
I’ve read lots of stuff about how people spread out their masa onto the husks. Personally I prefer to use my fingers. I feel like after the masa has sat in the fridge for a while it becomes very easy to work with.
I pretty much guess how much masa to use based upon the size of the husk. I’d guess on average a large tablespoon full. When I eat tamales I like thin masa as opposed to biting through thick masa.
Spread a layer of masa down on the wide part of the husk close to an edge but leave yourself some room to fold.
Then layer on your ingredients.
When folding the tamale ill take it from the side and fold it over so that the top layer of masa overhangs the bottom layer. Then ill take my fingers and put them on that edge and pull my fingers towards my palm to form a nice cylinder shape.
Then simply take the top (smaller end) of the husk fold it up over the tamale and begin to roll up the tamale and start stacking.
After a few times you become very proficient at rolling the tamales.
At this point it’s time to get your steamer ready.
I use my canning steamer and just invert my jar stacker and stack up my tamales on it. Make sure you have a fair amount of water in the bottom of your steamer but not enough to touch the tamales.
Once you’ve stacked all your tamales in the steamer fire up the heat and cover. After they start steaming you can adjust your heat to keep a steady steam but not to much to waste your water.
Steam for about two hours. Sometimes with smaller batches 90 minutes is enough but I usually go two hours.
Remove from the heat and voila.
Time to enjoy a great snack.
Give this a try. It’s not that hard.