Let's Make Tamales: Part 2

You have pots of stewed meat simmering on the stove, bowls overflowing with cheese, green chiles and refried beans, a huge lump of masa and a kitchen filled both with savory scents and a group of friends. Now what?

Before you can start making tamales, you need to soak your corn husks for an hour to make them pliable. If you're feeling really creative, you can dye the water, which also comes in handy for identifying what fills each tamale—say a blue wrap for pork and a red wrap for beans. Natural dyes can be made out of herbal tea with rose hips such as Celestial Seasoning's Red Zinger, turmeric or blueberries. When the husks can easily bend without cracking, take them out and pat them with paper towels. They should be damp but not dripping.

There are several ways to roll tamales, but I'm a fan of the tied-end method. It's simple, plus the tamales look like little gifts, perfect for this time of year. To do this, first take some of the damp corn husks and tear them into thin strips. Set the strips aside because that's what you'll use to tie the tamales.

Now haul your wares to a flat work surface and set up your rolling station. The process is simple: take a corn husk and lay it flat. Put in a handful of masa (about 1/2 cup) and spread it around the center of the husk, leaving the circumference (about 1/2 inch) clean. Pour in a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of the masa. Take the husk and starting at one end lengthwise start rolling. When it's completely rolled up, tie the two ends with the masa strips. Eso es todo! You've made a tamale!
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