It seems more and more of my close friends are wanting to make homemade tamales this year, and have come to me to ask what exactly they need to make this serious labor of love happen. I start by asking them exactly how many dozens are they wanting to make? You see the preparation alone is labor intensive, you have to make the chile, and prepare the meat, soak the husks, and chop all the other ingredients. It’s a job not recommended for the weak or tired. If someone tells me 2 to 5 dozen …. I scoff and say “you’re better off buying them already made.” It’s only really worth it if you are going to make dozens in the double digits. This year I went light and only made 15 dozen, compared to my previous years of 27 to 30 dozen, but that’s a different story for another time. What I’m trying to say is if you’re going to commit yourself, you might as well go for the gusto.
Every year I like to make my life as simple as possible by choosing a few things to buy as gifts, and staying with that theme. One year all my friends got tea sets, and another year everyone got engraved stationary and ink/ feather pens…. not the same exact gift but variations to suite their personalities. I few weeks ago I went to Walmart to grab my tamale supplies, and a wall of tamale steamers caught my eye. I thought of my friends that are just starting to continue the tamale making tradition, and are not sure what they need. I decided that group of friends were all going to get the tamalada kit for Christmas this year, but I’d have to give it to them a little early. These are the very basics of what is needed to get started, and lucky for me… Walmart had it all. A few minutes later I was out of the store and had 5 people knocked off my list just like that.
The basics for a tamale making kit:
- tamale steamer: a large pot with and elevated plate inside that has holes.
- tea towels: tea towels are used to cover the tamales once they are steaming.
- strainer: is used to strain seeds out of chile, and to drain the corn husks after soaking.
- tongs: needed to remove tamales from steamer.
- corn husks: the wrapper to the tamale
- chile: the base of your flavor, it is used to both flavor the masa and spice the meat.