If You Make Tamales

tcThe recipe on the mix may say to steam tamales for 45 minutes.  Or maybe one hour.  Sometimes a testmaleTM opened after an hour will seem somewhat uncooked.  Mushy.  More time?  Can a tamale be oversteamed?  Search that and you find folks steaming tamales for two hours.  Sometimes three.  One person steams them on low steam overnight.  So maybe you can’t oversteam a tamale.to

I’ve had tamales cook in 45 minutes (when no one is coming over).  I’ve had tamales take two hours (as they did yesterday, so I was glad to have started at 2:00 rather than the 4:00 I had predicted).  What gives?  I have some ideas.

First thing, a testmale opened immediately after removal from the steamer will very likely seem uncooked.  Let it cool for five minutes before opening.  That may have been my mistake yesterday and many other times.

Second, it seems like a batter with more air will cook faster.  I’ve been instructed to beat the batter until smooth and sticky, I ended up beating it for about a minute.  It seemed smooth and sticky.  Internet experts say beat it for ten minutes.  That’s seriously long, so get out your stand mixer.

Third, a test was proposed.  Make a small ball of batter.  If it floats, it has enough air.  Some people say their batter never floats.  Probably worth a try, though.

Don’t overpack the steamer.  I’ve probably done that more often that not.  I should use a taller pot.

Thicker tamales take longer to steam.  I made sixteen tamales from a recipe yielding sixteen tamales, so I’m guessing that wasn’t my problem yesterday.  Maybe has been in the past, though.

Best advice?  Make them in advance.  Maybe in the morning.  Plan on a two-hour steam, but check a testmale at one hour after a five-minute cool down.  When a testmale seems right, put the bunch in the fridge and then reheat over steam for 30 minutes, allowing time for the all important five-minute cool down.  That should do it.  Have other ideas?  Please share.

The salsa, beans, rice and guacamole, even the tamales, all came our perfectly.  I was so pleased.  Clean plates and lots of compliments.  I was right about the Makers Mark–it was the most popular.  I was right about the mescal–no one wanted it.  I was wrong about the Nugget Nectar–it was appreciated and disappeared.fw

The Scrabble tiles were not working for me.  I came in last in the first game and second to last in the second.  No matter.  The company is why I participate and that was swell.

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