I grew up south of the border – no, not Pedro’s on I-95….much much further south…down the Panamerican Highway – all the way to Guatemala. There are many things I love and miss about Guatemala, chief among them…tamales. Real tamales, filled with melt-in-your-mouth tender chunks of pork or chicken swimming in a creamy base of masa and achiote-laced recado, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed until it’s a big ole’ bunch of goodness.
I’ve had tamales on the brain since Christmas. It was our family tradition to eat tamales Christmas morning, and since I’ve been in the States, it just hasn’t quite been the same. I’ve thought about making them, but honestly didn’t know where to even start. Two weeks ago, Chicago chef Rick Bayless came to my rescue. I was watching his cooking show on PBS and he was making tamales. I hit “Record”, thinking I’d try them one day when I had a lot of time (these things aren’t a 30 minute meal). Baby A happened to catch the recording and has been bugging the living daylights out of me ever since to get these tamales made.
I bought bananas leaves and trimmed them
softened them over the burner (yes, it smelled…sorta’ like burning banana leaves)
made the masa (yes – that’s lard – I’m a cook, not your cardiologist)
boiled the chicken (I had pork, but it was frozen and would have taken another six hours)
made the recado
assembled, folded and tied the tamales….
steamed them for an hour and a half….
and then, FOUR HOURS after I had started this project, I eagerly opened it up and took my first bite……
AND IT WAS TERRIBLE AND WENT STRAIGHT INTO THE TRASHCAN!!!