I know, it’s past Christmas and Tamales are something usually eaten after Midnight Mass for many Mexican-American families. However; it’s not too late to enjoy your tamales during the “Christmas Season”, which actually doesn’t end until January 6. In our house, we keep the decorations up until then.
In many households, particularly Catholic households, the season of celebration begins with The Advent Season, which ends at midnight Christmas Morning. This is immediately followed by The Christmas Season, or the Twelve Days of Christmas, ending on January 6. For many Mexican families, the Christmas Holiday Season actually begins on December 12; with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, ending with the Three Kings on January 6. Tamales most definitely are a part of that Holiday Celebration. So even though we are past Christmas Day, we are still celebrating the season of the Holidays.
Speaking of Holidays; did you know (as I am sure you did) that Holiday is actually two words smashed together: Holy Day. It once referred to days of religious importance. Now it means any special day that is free from work or school, a day set aside for relaxation and celebration.
Pork Tamales Salsa Verde Enchilada Style
Salsa Verde Enchilada Sauce
14 Long Green Chile Peppers (New Mexican, Anaheim or Poblano)
2 Jalapeño Peppers
1-1/2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2-1/2 Cups White or Spanish Onions
8 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Cup canned Tomatillos, chopped
1/2 cup Water
Kosher Salt to taste
Ground Cumin to taste
Heat oven to 450-degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place Green Chile Peppers and Jalapeño Peppers on prepared baking sheet. Place in oven and roast chilies until blackened, turning several times as needed for even blistering, about 20-30 minutes. Place peppers in a re-sealable plastic bag and let set 10 minutes to allow peppers to cool and steam to be released into the bag. Remove from bag, peel away blistered skins, split open, remove seeds and membrane. (For more heat, retain some of the seeds). Chop coarsely and set aside.
While the peppers are roasting, peel and thinly slice the onion. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-heat. Sauté onions until tender and translucent, about 5-8 minutes. DO NOT let onions caramelize. Add garlic and sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Set aside until the peppers are ready.
Coarsely chop the tomatillos, retaining their juices and set aside.
Place peppers, onion mixture and tomatillos along with their juices in food processor fitted with a blade. Puree the mixture, scraping down sides as needed. Pour puree into a saucepan. Add water and seasonings to taste, bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
Note: Sauce can be used immediately or allowed to cool, then refrigerate up to a week until needed. The sauce can also be placed in small snack-size bags, then frozen for individual use. Gently warm before serving.
12 Pork Tamales, frozen
24 sheets of Paper Towels
12 pieces of Foil
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove tamales from the freezer but keep wrapped in the husks. Set aside.
Dampen paper towels, wrap two damp towels around each tamale, tucking the ends under the tamale so that it is completely encased in the paper towel. Wrap the tamale a second time in a piece of foil, pressing tightly to remove any air trapped inside.
Lay the tamales in a casserole dish, place in the oven to “steam” bake. After 30 minutes, check to see that the tamales are warmed through. If not, continue to heat another 10 minutes.
When ready to serve, unwrap the foil, carefully remove the steaming-hot paper towels (use tongs to keep from burning your fingers) and stack the tamales, still in their husks, on a platter. This makes for a lovely presentation and easy of serving.
Serve along side bowls of warmed enchilada sauce and sour cream to garnish as desired.
Note: You can also make individual Pork Tamales for a quick lunch. Wrap one or two frozen tamales individually in double sheets of damp paper towels. Place in the microwave and heat for 3 to 4 minutes. If you have made the sauce in advance and have individual servings in the freezer, take out a pouch and place in a cup of hot water to thaw, then gently warm to serve with the tamales. Great for a quick lunch along with a salad.