Confession: I am a food lover. It isn’t much of a surprise to anyone that’s close to me. My love of food goes beyond taste, I love to cook, share recipes, take photos and learn new techniques. I purposely seek out friends that are from different cultures simply to explore their culinary world. Lucky for me I didn’t have to go very far for this recipe. My wonderfully kind neighbors Osmin and Elcy are from El Salvador. Their culture runs deep and we share quips about child rearing, respecting our elders, weddings and even funeral etiquette with each other. If you listen to people you can learn so much and I make sure I hang on to every word. Elcy is known for her tamales. A difference between Mexican and El Salvador tamales is the method of preparation. Mexicans wrap their tamales in corn husk while El Salvadorians prefer banana leaves. This recipe is labor intensive but worth the effort for the flavorful experience. This is an adaptation because like me, Elcy doesn’t measure when she cooks. I find that once you have been doing the same task for many years it becomes second nature. I am using chicken in this tamale recipe but the meat can be pork, beef or replaced with cheese and vegetables.
- 1 whole chicken
- 4 cups masa harina
- 1 cup of shortening, lard or butter
- 1 onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- black pepper
- 1 tomato
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- bay leaf
- banana leaves
1. Cook chicken in 6-8 cups of water, bay leaf, salt, pepper and garlic for 4 hrs or until easily shredded. After the chicken has cooled, pull the meat making sure to discard bones. Set aside.
2. Puree onion, cumin, black pepper, tomato, bell pepper, cilantro with 1 1/2 cups of broth.
3. Mix Masa Harina with shortening, adding broth until the texture is smooth.
4. Use remaining puree to coat chicken.
5. Rinse banana leaves, divide into the size you wish your tamales to be.
6. To assemble each tamale, spread 2 tablespoons (more if you prefer thicker tamales) of the masa mixture on the center of the banana leaf. Place about 1 tablespoon meat and sauce mixture in the middle of the masa. Fold sides until they just overlap, fold narrow end under, and place tamale folded side down. Wrap in foil.
7. Carefully fill a large pot with foil wrapped tamales, fill 1/4 of the pot with water. Bring to boil, reduce heat. Cover pot and cook for 40 minutes or until the tamale filling is no longer sticky. Be sure to add more water if necessary.
Thank you for reading my food journal and allowing me to share my recipes with you. If you want to have a happy life surround yourself with people that have the same goals.