We didn’t make tamales for Christmas day, but a couple days after. I’ve only made tamales twice, both times with my Mom. For Christmas my Mom used to make 40 pounds of masa with her mother when she was growing up. My Grandmother did have 7 daughters and a husband to feed. Unlike the first time, my Ma and I made the masa from scratch. This was a bit time consuming and we argued a bit about the amount of oil needed. I said more, she didn’t want to. Then we couldn’t get our masa to float. There’s a test you do with the masa to check if it’s ready. After mixing it in the KitchenAid, you take a little piece and drop it in some water. If the masa floats, it’s ready, if it doesn’t . . . put it back in the mixer and keep going. That KitchenAid got so hot, we must have had 20 little balls of dough in the pot of water, all stuck to the bottom. Fail. We said screw it, and made em anyways. Pork Tamales, Chicken Tamales and Bean & Cheese Tamales (for my Vegetarian Brother-in-Law). All with a little homemade roasted salsa.
They took forever to steam. I felt like a kid waiting for my Mac & Cheese to be done (Mac & Cheese seemed to take forever when I was younger). Hours later, at 10pm, we ate. They turned out delicious. My Ma’s were perfect, mine needed to have more masa. Success overall.
A cool superstition: only one person is allowed to stack the tamales in the pot for steaming. If you switch, it’s bad luck and the tamales don’t turn out as well.