For Christmas this year we developed a menu that combined Celi and Diana’s Mexican heritage with Hannah’s Eastern European roots. Check out the full story here. These German Christmas tamales were a huge success!
Must-Have: Good masa or a good shortcut.
First and foremost, good tamales need good masa – this is non-negotiable. It’s best to make to homemade masa dough. But, for the sake of saving precious holiday time Diana’s tia let us in on great shortcut. To start, you’ll need to find lard and good quality masa from a traditional source. First, cream the lard in a mixer until it triples in size. Then, incorporate the dough into lard and mix until it’s unbelievably fluffy. This process deepens flavor and adds dimension to the dough, while ensuring the vital melt-in-your mouth texture. Thankfully, we can buy authentic Mexican ingredients everywhere in LA; but if you live in a place where you can’t, you should make homemade dough. Here is an easy recipe for tamale dough.
How to make Christmas Tamales:
- 1 lb German Bratwurst, removed from casing
- 1 medium bag of corn husks, rinsed well to remove dirt
- 4 red potatoes, diced
- For Red Sauce:
- 2 cups dried California chili, remove seeds, stems and veins (use gloves) and then rinse well
- 1 medium yellow onion. roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- ¼ tbs Cumin
- 1 tbs dried Mexican Oregano
- ½ tbs beef bouillon
- cold water
- For Masa:
- 1 bag of quality pre-made masa dough (you can find at any Mexican Supermarket)
- 3 cups lard
- Special Equipment:
- Large tamale steamer
- Soak corn husks in water an hour before using.
- in mixer, mix lard until triples in size, about 10 minutes. Slowly mix prepared masa dough into lard mixture. Mixture should light and fluffy. Once combined, cover and mixture and refrigerate.
- In large pot, add chilies, onion and garlic. Cover with water and bring to boil. Once boiling lower heat to simmer. Simmer about 30 minutes until chilies are soft, stirring occasionally.
- Strain cooked chilies, but SAVE THEIR COOKING LIQUID.
- Blend cooked chilies, cumin, oregano, bouillons and salt in blender. Add more or less reserved chili water for desired thickness.
- Strain sauce through sieve to remove skins.
- Microwave diced potatoes for 2 minutes.
- In large pan, cook ground bratwurst on medium high heat until cooked through then add red sauce and potatoes to the meat.
- Keep corn husks moist with damp towels so they remain pliable.
- Rip a couple of the husks into long strips, set aside.
- Place the wide end husk the palm of your hand. Add 2 spoonfuls of masa to middle of husk and spread evenly with back of spoon. Do not cover entire husk, you want about 2 inches from the bottom uncovered.
- Put a large spoonful of filling down the center of the masa. Fold both sides into the center then fold the point end of the husk toward the filled end. Make sure the tamal is nice and snug. Secure by tying a thin strip of corn husk around the bottom to ensure it stays closed while steaming.
- In tamale steamer, pour water until the fill line, cover the water with the tamale rack. Arrange tamales in circle around pot, stacking on top of one another to leave a hole in the center.
- Steam with lid on for 1 hour. Cooking time will vary.
- Test if done by unwrap one tamal. If masa sticks to husk it's not ready, so refold and place it back in steamer for 15-30 more minutes.
- *Tip: Place a penny on the bottom rack in the center. If you start to hear the penny rattle, it means you need to add more water.
- *Tip: If you are making more than what this recipe calls for you can place the tamales upright to fit more.
- *Tip: Sauce can be made in advance and kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.