One would expect that during a challenge like this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I might not have eaten one of the dishes I was about to prepare. But I can say, which is a bit of a surprise, that I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever eaten a tamale. I think when given the opportunity to order them for dinner, I’ve almost always gravitated to something different…a mole, maybe some tacos, or fajitas. But now that I’ve attempted my first tamale, maybe I’ll check out how the real experts make them.
These tamales were chock full of an interesting mix of ingredients including pork butt, potatoes, green olives, prunes, red peppers, onions, raisins, capers and rice. The recipe I used made 12 tamales and with just the two of us, and without an industrial kitchen-grade stovetop, much less a large enough pot, I ended up cutting this recipe down by a third. One kitchen tool that I found very helpful for this dish was my large pot with insertable steaming basket. I was able to stack the tamales in there for a very long (3 1/2 hour) steam.
I know this is probably against all sorts of rules but I used foil to wrap my tamales for cooking as opposed to banana leaves. 1) I didn’t have time to go to the specialty store to get the banana leaves and I find between the wrapping and the string needed, they are a bit of a pain, and 2) I like that you can make this dish a bit more accessible to folks who may not have access to all the great specialty food stores that I do in the D.C. area. I imagine that there is probably some flavor differences but I think from a technical perspective, the foil worked quite nicely. They weren’t the prettiest tamales, but they sure were tasty.
Recipe I used: https://www.internationalcuisine.com/nicaraguan-nacatamales/
Overall Level of Effort: 3
Skill Level: Intermediate
Would Make it Again? Yes
Additional Notes: I was really pleased with how these came out but when I went to eat some as leftovers two days later, I found them incredibly dry. Perhaps there is a better way of reheating these so I’ll plan to experiment next time around.