Abuelita Carmen's Tamales Boyacenses

Christmas and New Year's are typically the time when Colombian families will go through the arduous work of preparing TAMALES. Tamales are a family affair and every one has a job. Preparation for tamal making starts the day before you plan to actually make the tamales by preparing a GUISO and marinating the meat that will be used.

Step #1 -- Marinate the Meat

6 pork chops -- bone in is a must
12 chicken legs and thighs -- again you need the bones in

Marinate this meat overnight in the following GUISO.

12 green onions
4 medium onions
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons Colór -- the ingredient I mentioned for the Empanada recipe.
salt -- to taste

Blend the above ingredients in a food processor. Then add:

3 whole dried bay leaves

Pour GUISO over over meat and then stir the meat until all the meat is covered. Place in the refrigerator over night.

Step #2 -- Cook the Meat

First, remove bay leaves from the meat. Brown the meat in a frying pan and then boil in water 20-30 minutes. Make sure that the water covers the meat throughout the cooking process. When the meat is thoroughly cooked, remove it from the water -- but keep all of the water DO NOT DRAIN. Cut the pork into cubes and set aside in a bowl. Pull the chicken into small pieces and set aside in a separate bowl.

Step #3 -- Make the Caldo (Broth)

Add the following to the left over water/guiso/broth mixture.

1/2 cup butter (Again, I use regular Smart Balance)
Several teaspoons of powdered chicken broth (Again, I use Herb Ox, MIL uses Knorr)

You want to make sure that the CALDO has a rich, slightly salty flavor. If it tastes too watery, add more powdered chicken broth and butter. If it is really strong, use less or add a little water. Let the caldo cool completely -- (since it is winter here in the US on New Year's, I stick the pot outside in the snow).

Step #4 -- Make the Masa (Dough)

1-1 1/2 bags (the 1lb. 8 oz. size) of Arepa Harina

Slowly add the Arepa Harina to the cooled Caldo, stirring constantly. Once all of the flour is in the broth, cook over low heat until thickened. Once thick, let the Masa cool. When cool, the Masa is kind of shiny and gelatin like.

Step #5 -- Prepare the Leaves

2 pounds frozen Banana Leaves

Thaw, rinse, and lay flat. Do not let them dry out. Keep them under moist towels until ready to use.

Step #6 --Prepare additional ingredients.

1 large can of pre-cooked garbanzo beans or cook some yourself
4-5 large carrots cooked and sliced into circles about 1/8" thick
1 bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley washed and cut into small pieces
More GUISO -- make a new 1/2 batch of guiso (without basil) but add 1/2 cup oil and cook until tender.

Step #7 -- Prepare Tamales

15-20 2 foot long pieces of string (cotton only)

On a large banana leaf, place a glob of masa (about 1 cup). On top of the glob place, 2 or 3 pieces of pork, a couple chunks of chicken, 5 garbanzo beans 2-3 slices of carrots, a sprig of parsley, and a heaping Tablespoon of guiso. Fold the leaf completely around the filling and tie with string.

[This is actually the fun family step. Every family member has a job. Some one is in charge of the pork, some one the leaves, some one the beans and carrots, etc. ]

Step #8 -- Cook the Tamales

Steam the Tamales for about 20-30 minutes. Let cool and eat. They are usually more tasty the next day.

Yes, I recognize that they are a TON of work. But, so worth it once a year. It is also a great family participation activity. I will add pictures after we make them on New Year's.


em and pete said…
I posted before about how much I love this blog...I want to print everything for our future child, but we're starting now with our traditions. Maybe I'll try the tamales. I like an adventure in the kitchen. :) Again, thank you, thank you for this blog. It's the best!
Mike and Rachel said…
This looks great! Keep up the excellent work, we are loving this blog.
Anonymous said…
This blog is the best.....this coming from a Colombian proud aunt of 2 beautifull adopted girls from Colombia......your tamales are great!!!! Maria Claudia Andrade.

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