Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Goat Tamales-I Kid You Not!

I had 2 1/2 lbs. of frozen goat meat in the freezer waiting for something interesting to happen. I'd already used goat in a stew, this time I seasoned it Mexican style and made tamales. Gosh, it was exhausting work. If I had an ounce of brains in my noggin, I'd have split this up over two days. Oh well, that's what Ibuprofen is for, eh?

You can use this recipe (as I have) for chicken or beef. I've even made vegetarian tamales using soy chorizzo. I've never tried a bean filling, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. You should also feel free to adjust the spices for your own tastes. This recipe was on the mild side as I only used Ancho chillies. I also used vegetable shortening (Crisco). You may prefer lard.

You Will Need:

For the Goat:

2 1/2 lbs. goat meat, cut into chunks (bone-in OK-you'll pull it apart later)

1 onion, sliced

5 cloves garlic, smashed

2 teaspoons salt

10 peppercorns

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

4 tablespoons ground Ancho chillies

2 tablespoons Ancho chillies (for frying)

2 tablespoons ground cumin (for frying)

4 tablespoons shortening for browning meat

2 tablespoons shortening for frying

In a heavy stockpot, melt the 4 tablespoons shortening and brown the goat meat to seal the juices. Remove as pieces finish. Return all the meat to the pot, reduce heat and add onions, garlic, peppercorns, salt, cumin seeds, and 4 tablespoons Ancho chillies. Add enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer (and keep an eye that it does not return to a rolling boil) and cook 2-3 hours until tender.

Two hours before you plan to make the tamales, wash and soak the corn husks in hot water in a large bowl. If it goes three, no harm done-but you need as least two hours to make them pliable. If you can't find corn husks where you live (which should never be a problem here as I live in the "Cornhusker State"-which actually used to be known as "The Beef State", but that's another story) I'm told that coffee filters will do the trick. Having never attempted it, I can't vouch for the method. People also use parchment paper, but that would turn a low cost meal into a pretty expensive one.

When goat is cooked, remove pieces to a plate to cool, strain and reserve liquid. Go take 15 minutes to get off your feet (you'll appreciate the break later).

When meat is cooled, begin pulling off the pieces carefully (goat has many tiny bones that need to be removed) and shredding them with your fingers. You can use a fork if you want to be all fancy and stuff. When the meat is shredded, find your biggest frying pan (cast iron works great if you have one) and melt 2 tablespoons of the shortening. Add the chillies and cumin and stir to make a sauce. Add the meat and over medium heat, stir and cook it for about three minutes. You want to incorporate the fat and spices back into the ground goat. Add enough of the cooking liquid to cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced to a somewhat gloppy mass (about an hour). Again, keep an eye on it as it will need the temperature lowered as it reduces.

While you are reducing the goat meat, make the masa.

For The Masa:

4 cups Masa flour for Tamales (you can use the regular stuff, but the tamale variety has a coarser texture. What you do not want is cornmeal. You can find ready-made Masa in Mexican grocers, but it is easy enough to make your own).

4 cups water with 4 chicken flavoured bouillon cubes dissolved in it and cooled to lukewarm. Broth is not a good substitute here.

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

1 1/3 cups solid vegetable shortening

Combine the masa flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Ass the liquid slowly until you have a soft, but not sticky dough. In another bowl, beat the shortening with a mixer until fluffy. Add the masa mixture and beat until spongy. Cover until ready to use.

When goat meat is finished, move to a bowl to cool and begin assembling tamales. Take a husk, spread it out on a work surface. Take about 2 tablespoons of the masa mixture and spread it on the middle of the hush making sure it reaches the sides. You should leave space at the top and bottom for folding. Place a bit of goat filling on top and then, lifting the corn husk by the sides, gently move it back and forth sideways until the tamale comes together in a cigar shape. Fold the sides over it and fold the top and bottom. Load into a steamer one by one. You Can start heating your pot of water for steaming at this point.

I used an Asian style 2-tiered steamer. This works super, but if you don't have one, stack the tamales in a metal steamer standing on edge and cover with a cotton towel tucked inside the opt. You'll need to keep adding water more often with this method, and you'll probably need to do two batches, but it will work. Keep an eye on the water level, no matter which method you use.

Steam the tamales for about an hour. You can check them periodically because this ain't an exact science. When they are finished to your satisfaction, pull them (carefully) out of the steamer and let them cool, in the husks in a casserole dish in the fridge. You can store them in the husks if you like for about a day. After that, I'd wrap them in parchment or waxed paper. They freeze well and re-heat excellent in the microwave. This recipe make close to three dozen tamales, so unless you have a very large family, you'll want to freeze some. Why not, they make terrific midnight snacks.

Note-I never thought I'd need to point this out, but since people have asked over and over in Google searches that arrive at my blog-you cannot eat the corn husk. You unroll the husk and eat the tamale inside.

1 comment:

AanikaP said...

Do you know the implication of the saying "Lest not be made of Goat Tamales"? Not sure that is the correct translation but in spanish it says "Que no te hagan de chivo los tamales" Just think it's funny someone actually has a recipe :) Will try someday. Thanks.