Chef Patricia Quintana of Izote
– Mexico City, Mexico
Adapted by StarChefs.com
When a Mexican family makes tamales around the Day of the Dead holiday, they are made for the entire family, including those who are now spirits. Tamales are offered to both the living and the dead.
- 28 cups corn kernels (approximately 40 ears)
- 2 cups blue or yellow cornmeal, or masa harina
- 1½ cups butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup lard or vegetable shortening
- 1½ cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 eggs
- 2 Tablespoons salt
- 140 fresh corn husks (or banana leaves)
- 1½ cups heavy cream or crème fraîche
- 2½ pounds fresh feta or farmer’s cheese, crumbled
- Chile Ancho Salsa or Green Salsa with Cilantro
For the Tamale Batter:
Husk the ears of corn, reserving the husks to wrap tamales. Remove the kernels with a sharp knife. Place the corn kernels in a blender or food processor and purée. If the kernels are very dry, add a little milk to facilitate the procedure. Transfer puréed corn and corn meal to a large bowl and beat with a rotary beater or electric beater. Gradually add the butter and lard. When well mixed, add the sugar and beat another 3-4 minutes. Incorporate eggs one by one along with baking powder and salt, and continue beating for about 25 minutes or until the mixture is smooth. Allow mixture to sit for 30 minutes.
Fill a steamer with water. Place a coin at the bottom (it will rattle if the water has evaporated), then place the rack in the steamer. Place a thick layer of corn husks in the bottom of the steamer to prevent the tamales from becoming soggy. Begin to heat water over a medium flame.
To Assemble and Serve:
Place 1-2 tablespoons of tamale batter in the center of each corn husk and fold shut. Arrange tamales in the prepared steamer, overlapping. Cover with fresh cornhusks. Top with a damp cloth and steam for 1 hour or until done. The husks will easily peel from the batter when done. If necessary, add more water to the steamer.
Serve tamales still-wrapped, steaming hot, with cream, cheese and Chile Ancho Salsa, Green Salsa with Cilantro, or other salsas on the side.