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What's Cooking Mexico

Posted Feb 12 2011 12:00am
Picadillo tamal

Like I mentioned before , in Mexico there are many kinds of tamales. Each state, region and even towns have their own version of tamales. They are all made with the same basic ingredients, ground corn and lard. Some are stuffed and some are not. Some are wrapped in corn husks and some in banana leaves or other kinds of leaves. Here in Mexico City the most popular tamales are the ones wrapped in corn husks and we call Oaxaca tamales those wrapped in banana leaves, although not only in Oaxaca they make them that way. They are usually moister than the corn husk tamales. That’s because they are prepared with broth, chicken or pork. For my tamalada I made two kinds of banana leaf tamales, picadillo and mushrooms in green sauce, that everybody loved. Here are the recipes for the masa and the two fillings I used for them:

Banana leaf tamales masa
Makes about 20-25 tamales

The ingredients:

  • 1 liter (34 oz) chicken or pork broth
  • 250 gr (1/2 lb) lard
  • 1 kg (2 lbs) tortilla masa
  • salt to taste

The how to:

Mushroom in green sauce filling

The ingredients:

  • 500 gr (1 lb) tomatillos
  • 1 or 2 jalapeno or serrano peppers
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small stick cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 hoja santa leaves
  • small bundle of epazote
  • small bundle of cilantro
  • 250 gr (1/2 lb) mushrooms, sliced. I used the ones known as setas here in Mexico.
  • Salt to taste
  • Chicken broth if necessary

The how-to:

Oaxaca tamal

Oaxaca tamal

Oaxaca tamal

Seta tamal

Picadillo filling for the chard and banana leaves tamales

The ingredients:

  • 20 chard leaves
  • olive oil
  • 500 gr (1 lb) ground beef
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots and 1 small potato, cooked and in small cubes
  • 100 gr (3.5 oz) peas, cooked
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

The how-to:

Acelga leaf

Acelga tamal

Acelga tamal

Acelga tamal

Picadillo tamal

How to prepare banana leaves:

Before using banana leaves they have to be cooked. This is done by passing them very quickly over an open flame until they change color from bright green to a paler one. Be careful not to burn them because they will crack and won’t be useful anymore. Cut them with scissors to form rectangles of about 10″x8″.

Banana leaves

Banana leaves

Note: Tortilla masa is easily available in Mexico at tortillerias or corn mills. However, in the States you can find dry corn masa for tortillas at the grocery store. Just follow the instructions on the package to rehydrate it and obtain the amount necessary for this recipe.

¡Buen provecho!

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