28 January 2011

Holiday Eating

This is Christmas Eve . . . Pozole and Tamales

When I was shopping at the local Asian/Latino grocery store before Christmas, my friend who works there asked, "So, are you making anything special for Christmas? Tamales?" Well, I hadn't been planning on it . . . but why not?! I had just seen tamal-making in operation at work and I was at the place where I could buy all the supplies. I went for it, and it was so much fun!

I made two different sauces--a mole ("mol-ay", which is a Mexican chili-chocolate sauce) and a tomatillo-jalapeno sauce. We used chicken and prunes with the mole and ground venison with the green sauce. I went ahead and cooked the meats so I wouldn't have to worry about them cooking inside the tamales. I found a masa recipe online that didn't call for lard, and bought banana leaves to wrap them in. Then we went to work! After wrapping them up, they were placed over water in a steamer basket (one of those fold-out kind) in my big stockpot and steamed for about an hour.

While the steaming was going on, I had plenty of time to make pozole--a chicken, hominy soup in a mildly tomato-y broth. While the soup itself is a little bland you get to have fun adding all the fresh toppings--cilantro, diced tomatoes, green onions, and lime juice!

My sister-in-law and her husband were coming down from Pennsylvania to have lunch with us, and I regret to say the tamales kept us waiting . . . I hadn't planned on the appropriate amount of time to let them steam. But, when all was "said and done" we had a mighty feast and enjoyed it to!

Later in the day, we went Asian with fresh spring rolls for a dinner with my family. I wasn't quite as happy with these results as with the tamales and pozole. I undercooked the rice noodles a tad, and I think we made the rolls a bit too fat. But with all those fresh herbs, flavor itself was salvaged! Better luck next time.

Cook's Word: Tamales and pozole: could definitely become a tradition. Spring rolls? The jury is out.

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