So my son and I made tamales.
I met my first tamale decades ago. It was in Texas. I remember sitting with friends and unwrapping the steamy, soft, spicy pork cigar from its corn husk. It was good. Amazingly good. I credit that tamale with the gumption I found to chase a pretty Texan girl I’d met back home. A marriage, two kids and thirty years later, I can count my tamales on one hand. With fingers to spare.
My son found a recipe online. YouTube. The video is gold: a Texas good-ol’-boy called Cowboy Kent Rollins who claims the recipe for the “the best hot tamales in the world.” Honestly, he’s worth a watch even if you go order your tamales pre-made. ‘We should make ‘em, dad.’ ‘Why not,’ I said.
It takes a while. As Cowboy Kent says, “you’re gunna be here plumb through next week!’ First, gathering the ingredients is a challenge. The 2½ pounds of “pork butt” is easy enough, but securing the hog lard, the masa, the corn husks and the dried guajillo and ancho chilis takes some work. Then there’s the hours of soaking, slow cooking, and steaming — and without that purpose-made tamale steamer from Walmart.
Still, we we did it. And they worked. Mostly. Mind you, I had conveniently forgotten just how fat-laden these things are. I reckon that hog lard added an extra lining to my stomach. I might need another decade or three to recover.