Maranda of Jolts & Jollies was our January 2012 Daring Cooks hostess with the mostess! Maranda challenged us to make traditional Mexican Tamales as our first challenge of the year!
When I grew up I was not really exposed to a lot of ethnic foods. There were some Mexican restaurants but at the time they were pretty Americanized and I don't remember ever seeing a tamale on the menu. I do, however, have fond memories of my dad making tamales. Well, not really making tamales, but preparing a jar of tamales. It was kind of a special occasion thing that my dad made just for himself. I always thought it was very cool - the way they were all individually wrapped in paper. They took forever to heat up (this was pre-microwave). I am not sure if I would still think these jarred tamales were any good, but in my memories they were very tasty. As Miranda says in her description - "Tamales are not so much about the food but about the memories created when making and eating them".
Well now it is not so hard to find a good Mexican restaurant with good tamales so I have them quite often. I had never tried making them though, so this this looked like a fun challenge. I am not sure I have ever had chicken tamales but I decided to try out Maranda's recipe for Green Chile Chicken Tamales. My first mistake was not reading the full recipe (cooking 101). The ingredients said cooked chicken so I went about roasting a chicken. After I had that started I checked out the rest of the recipe where it said to boil the chicken. Oh well, I am pretty sure that roasting can only help. The rest of the recipe went nice and smooth. I had always thought tamales were difficult to make and required a lot of technique but it seemed pretty easy to put these together. I made a simple enchilada sauce to serve on top of the tamales.
I made the tamales for a small family gathering at my mom and dad's on New Years Eve since I thought my dad might enjoy having one. I was really expecting to bring a bunch home since I didn't think everyone else would eat them but I was very wrong. They went over very well and got eaten up - I would have loved to brought some home - but it is even better to see others enjoy them. The tamales were delicious - I can definitely see myself making these again. My father told me about how his mom used to make tamales. I had never heard this before and I wish I knew where it came from. My father's family was from Paducah, KY and I am not quite sure how she would have got into making tamales. Will have to ask my Grandfather if he knows next time I see him.
If you would like to try your hand making tamales yourself check out the recipe in the Daring Kitchen archives. Thanks to Miranda for this fun and delicious challenge.