Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Impress Your Guests With Tamales!

A Peek at the Making of Our Tamales
It's a Labor of Love : )

John was playing with the camera on his new iphone 4s while Chef Dale was making a batch of tamales a few days ago. The photos turned out great (making me and my iphone 3 envious!), so I thought I'd share them with you.  Nothing says special fiesta to me like a tamale. We don't have them on the menu all the time, but when we do, I am a happy happy person.  

Tamales aren't necessarily difficult to make--just time intensive. Give it a shot or we could do it for you. Our team will be happy to make you a fresh batch of tamales from scratch just like this. 

Here's that peek at how we hand roll tamales at the Inn....

The First Step is to prepare the corn husks. A warm water soak ensures that they are soft and pliable. A couple of hours do the trick. Next, the dough is prepared from Corn Masa Flour and a few other ingredients. In this case Chef Dale also added some pureed acorn squash to the dough. Nice touch.

Then, it is time to fill the tamales. The excess water is cleared from the corn husks and the dough is smeared on the husk.  Here's where experience and technique pay off.  Maybe Karen (our tamale-making pro) will share her secrets. She's been making tamales at the Inn for close to two decades. You could ask her for advice next time you visit the restaurant. The filling is placed in the middle so when folded it is completely encased with the delicious dough.

In this example we are using steamed cubed acorn squash and black beans. This one is great for our vegetarian friends. Our most popular fillings at the Inn are the spicy pork or the shredded chicken. My personal favorite is chorizo and potato followed closely by this black bean and squash version. Btw, the filling is prepared and cooked before we stuff our tamales. Don't over fill or you'll have a difficult time rolling them.

Now it is ready for steaming. It takes about two hours. Keep checking the water level and add water as needed to keep it up. Why no cute little bow? I asked the same question. The purpose of the bow is to keep the tamales together but because we nestle ours close together in a flat steam pan, they stay closed. Also, it is kinda awkward for customers to try to untie those little bows. They are more of a nuisance than a help. It is much easier to unfold and enjoy. : )

Here's one on the plate ready to eat. Complete with a Spicy Coconut Rum dipping sauce Chef Dale created. We typically serve chicken and chorizo tamales with a chipotle ranch and the pork tamales with green salsa made from tomatillos.Yum! 

When you unfold the tamale it will look something like this. Opps! Sorry....I took a few bites (or more) before the photograph was taken.  I couldn't resist. Making tamales from scratch like this is well worth it. Won't the other guests be impressed with this at the potluck? They make a great appetizer or dinner.  If you attempt it yourself, please let me know how it went and what filling you used. I can't wait to hear about it. 

If this is just too much time for you, or you are intimated by the thought, come visit us at the Inn to enjoy a tamale. We'll also be happy to cook you up a batch. Call John or Chef Dale at 412-366-4140 to order tamales for your next gathering. Check out our Catering-to-Go Menu here: http://www.franklininn.net/Franklincatering2011.html

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