From the Chef: Our Homemade Tamales

The success is extra exciting for us because this crowd pleaser is a true Casa original. Our list of house-made ingredients just keeps growing, and we love showing you how we do what we do.

Let’s start at the very beginning. What is a tamale, you ask?

The tamale or “tamal” was an essential food in ancient Latin American cuisine. They were the food-of-choice for hunters, soldiers, and travelers because they were like a Mayan Hot Pocket--except that they were actual food and tasted delicious. So, they weren’t at all like a Hot Pocket, but they did stay warm in their own little “pocket.”  Tamale dough would be made from ground dried corn or masa flour, which was mixed with water, wrapped in cornhusks, then steamed until firm. Tamales were filled with a variety of different ingredients including meats, chilies, cheeses, vegetables, and fruits. In more tropical regions, tamales were prepared pretty much the same way, only using banana leaves instead of cornhusks.

So how does Casa Del Barco reinvent the tamale tradition?

Just like traditional tamales, Casa Del Barco uses 100% corn masa flour in our tamale dough. But we mix it up by adding egg and coriander seed to the dough. The egg yields lighter and fluffier tamales, and the coriander seed creates a floral and herby aroma. Our dough is then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. The last twist is that we serve our tamale deconstructed, with ingredients on top rather than inside of the tamale.

And here is how we do it. Get yourself some banana leaves and masa flour, and you can do it at home!

First, Tucker lays out a cut banana leaf to fill. Fresh banana leaves are sometimes stiff and crack easily, so to make them more pliable, he quickly steams then cools them.

Then, he scoops a level ball (¾ cup) of tamale dough to roll.

Once centered, it is now ready to fold.

Just like wrapping a present, Tucker folds the right edge over to cover half of the dough.

Next, the left edge over tightly to lock in the dough.

Now, he folds down the top edge of the leaf tightly.

Finally, he loosely pulls up the bottom edge to meet the top edge, allowing room for expansion and to prevent the dough from bursting when steamed.  

And now the tamale is ready to be steamed!

After being steamed for 20-30 minutes, Tucker removes the tamales. They’re ready to be finished off Casa-style, then served.   

This is what it will look like once it’s ready to eat! All of our tamales come covered with our house-made poblano mole sauce and your choice of meat (shown here with braised, free-range chicken). We top it off with pico de gallo, a sprinkle of queso fresco, guacamole, and a side of Mexican rice and black beans.

The tamale at Casa Del Barco is a perfect example of how we are reinventing the tradition. Come in to try one, and be sure to let us know what you think!

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