You start with this. Garlic, lots of Garlic!
Then you do this. A Garlic shake you ask? Well, sort of, but keep reading and you will see.
Something with a little more color gets blended in. What kind of shake is this?
Ok, so a huge rectangular pan with that red shake in it. Hmmmm, what could all this mean?
A random hand shredding meat? Looks like a little of beef and a little of pork.
Ohhhh, so that's what the red garlicky mixture is for. It's for the beef and pork to swim in and blend and gather the flavors of each other and the garlic. Great idea!
Another random hand with a spoon (my mother's beautiful hands). And another big bowl. This one looks like a big lump of some kind of dough (masa) and spoonfuls of some white, creamy stuff. Whipped cream? Nope...Manteca (Lard)
Ah Ha! Now the random hands have faces. My sister Lisa and my mom. Looks like we're adding salt to the mixture.
A pretty picture with my pretty Christmas Tree in the background and my pretty sister and mom in the foreground. Looks like Mom is adding some spiciness to the mixture, some red chili powder. Wonder where she's going with this mixture. Not brownies, that's for sure!
Ok, some more creamy white stuff. You don't see this cook using measuring cups and spoons. No sirree, this is all years and years of experience you see here.
Another pair of random hands mixing this all up. This seems to be a very hands on group of cooks!
So now we're taking the left over broth the meat was cooked in and adding it to the mix. Yikes!
And Lisa says, "I'm done". Mom holds up the arms of the champion helper.
But where am I? Well I was hoping being the official photographer would keep me from having to lend a hand, but alas...we all have to take our turn. Do I look happy to have my hands in this ooey, gooey mixture?
Back to the meat mixture on the stove. Mmmmm, ok, so now the flavors and the colors have blended. Could we be close to seeing what all this work is going to produce?
I tell you, I could just eat this whole thing with a spoon. Someone STOP ME!
Is this it? Is this the finished product? No...can't be. Why that's just a big bowl of dough (masa) and a bowl of black olives and some of the beef/pork red chili mixture. So what do we do with this now?
Little sister Lisa seems to be experienced in what to use these items for. Ok...so I see she has a corn husk in the left hand and she's smoothing some of the masa onto it with a spoon.
And Voila! The finished product. A red chili beef/pork/black olive T.A.M.A.L.E. That spells delicious Christmas food to me!
Lisa is GOOD! She's got quite the assembly line going. Good thing they have an official photographer :-)
All lined up and ready for a steamy bath.
There's an art to packing Tamales in the Tamale Pot. The Tamales don't get boiled or baked...they get steamed. I get steamed sometimes too, but that's a whole different story!
See that thing with the holes in it? That sits up on a little ledge formed into the pot which lets the tamales sit about 2 or 3 inches above the boiling water that gently steams them until they're cooked. Ingenious!
And this...this lovely, delicious, perfect item is what comes of all this work. The perfect Tamale.
The Christmas Tamale. Oh yes, other's may have their perfect Christmas Ham/Duck/Turkey/Pot Roast/Tuna Sandwich...whatever. But to our family there is nothing like the Christmas Tamale.
Was it worth it ladies? Ladies? LADIES!!! Ok, see...they aren't listening. They are way too busy just enjoying their tamales.
And the brains behind this operation? Yep, mom. She's been making tamales for Christmas as long as I can remember. And every year she says, "Next year we aren't making Tamales, it's too much work". And every year right after Thanksgiving Dinner she's asking, "So when are we getting together to make Tamales?"
Thank you mom. Long after Lisa has gone home and the official photographer has drifted off to go blog, you continue on. Packing the next batch of Tamales and the next and the next. Enough so that each of your kids and grand-kids has enough to eat at Christmas and enough to take home to enjoy throughout the rest of the holiday. We love you mom. Thank you for always having the strength and the love to make our Christmas Tamale dreams come true.
I hope you enjoyed this post. I know it was long, with lots of pictures but Tamale making is not for the feint of heart. It's a longgggggggg drawn out process. I'm linking up to Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday.