Wednesday, April 26, 2006


The last time I was home, my brother and I were invited over to our neighbors' house to make tamales. Although I've made tamales myself several times and always thoroughly enjoyed it, I usually put it off because there's a fair amount of labor involved. Especially if it's just me that's making them. My neighbor Carrie treats the task like it's as easy as making toast. Maybe that's because she has three sons around the house to (ideally) help. This time it turned out that my brother and I were the help. He's a big fan of tamales, and hers in particular, so he was eager to lend a hand.

The masa or dough recipe was based on one from Rick Bayless, but after we'd measured the broth and lard (hell yes, lard) the rest we just sort of eyeballed. The filling was a mixture of pork and chicken with tomatoes, broth (I think) and spices. I didn't get the number of that truck either.

Tying tamales has always been something I regarded as unnecessary, but, as I was the guest, I did as I was asked. Actually, they're much, much prettier that way, and they can take a little more shuffling and stacking in the steamer too. I just may have been converted to tamale tying.

Carrie's husband Tom also made some killer roasted tomatillo salsa, as you can see in the second photo.

In return, I took Carrie out for Nicaraguan tamales at a small grocery on White Street next Saturday morning. Compared to the ones we made, the "nacatamales" are monsters--wrapped in banana leaves and foil and trussed with twine. The filling of chiles, pork, mint, rice and potatoes was quite a bit different too.

(As a side note, I told myself I'd keep the apologies for sparse posting to a minimum. So there.)