Cempazuchi Tamales in Banana Leaves
This is an authentic tamale recipe, using lard. Solid vegetable shortening may be substituted.
- 1 pound boneless pork or chicken
- 2 onions (divided)
- 2 garlic cloves (divided)
- 1 tablespoon corn oil
- 2 cups pureed tomatoes, drained
- 3 tablespoons
- 1/2 cup lard (divided)
- 1 pound Masa Harina *
- 3 large banana leaves *
- Prepare filling: Place meat in water to cover, with 1 onion cut in half, 1 garlic
clove, peeled and chopped, and salt to taste. Cook slowly until very tender, about
50 minutes. Let cool, drain, and shred meat with 2 forks.
- In large saucepan, heat oil. Sauté 1 finely chopped onion and 1 minced garlic
clove until translucent. Add meat and saute 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, cilantro and
salt to taste. Simmer about 10 minutes, until well cooked and thickened.
- To make masa: Set aside 2 tablespoons lard. Beat Masa Harina with remaining lard
and salt to taste for about 5 minutes, until mixture is spongy.
- To make tortillas: Soften banana leaves by holding over open flame for a few
seconds until warm and pliable. Leaves will become shiny and fragrant. Cut 2 large
leaves into 6-inch squares. Lightly grease outside of squares with reserved 2 tablespoons
of lard. Turn over, and place about 2 heaping tablespoons filling on each square.
Cover with about 2 heaping tablespoons masa. Fold edges of squares toward center,
enclosing filling and making tightly wrapped rectangular package. Then tie each
tamale with small strip of leaf. Repeat with remaining banana leaf squares, lard,
filling and masa. There will be some masa left over.
- Line steamer with remaining leaf, then add water to steamer. Arrange tamales
in steamer, cover, and steam 1 hour, until cooked.
Makes about 16 tamales.
* Masa Harina, a finely ground corn flour, and banana leaves can be found
at Mexican specialty stores and some supermarkets.
Source: Bryce Clark, Cempazuchi restaurant, Milwaukee, Wisconsin