Throughout the month of December, members of the Cambria Winery family are sharing their favorite holiday traditions here on the blog. Wine Club Manager Rosella Guerrero always celebrates with family…and tamales! Here’s her story:
For as long as I can remember, my mother’s side of the family has gotten together on Christmas Eve at my Grandma’s house. We always gather early in the morning to make pork tamales for dinner that night. Grandma makes the pork filling for the tamales a day before so that all the ingredients are ready that morning. We help to spread the masa on the corn leaves and once the masa has set my Grandma puts in the pork filling and one olive. When I was small I always wondered why my Grandma would only put in one olive in the tamale, so I finally asked her one year. She told me that is her way of knowing exactly how many tamales we made so she would know how long to cook them for.
Each family makes a side dish to bring for dinner that night. When I was small, our gatherings were about 20-25 people, but as our family has grown so has the celebration – to around 40 people. Since the gatherings have gotten larger, we only buy gifts for the small kids to open that evening. It’s always fun to watch the little ones open their gifts and get excited about Santa coming!
More 12 Days of Tradition:
Day 1: Cookies, Cocoa and French Toast
Day 2: Griswold’s? Nope – the Mahoney’s!
Rosella’s tamale recipe:
• 2 ½ lbs. Boneless pork butt
• 1 Tbsp. Garlic powder
• 1 Tsp. Salt
• 1 Tsp. Black pepper
For Masa Prep
• 10 lbs. Masa
• 4 cups Pork lard
• ¼ cup Water
• 3 Tbsp. Baking powder
• ¼ cup of chile sauce
• 6 dozen dried corn husks
• 4 to 5 cans of large black olives
For Chile Sauce
• ½ lb. Chile Ancho
• 1 Tsp. Garlic powder
• ½ Tsp. Ground cumin
• 2 cups Water
• 2 Tbsp. Pork lard
• 2 Tbsp. Salt
1. Place pork butt in medium-size stock pot. Add the garlic, salt and pepper. Add cold water to cover the pork. On high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and let it simmer partly covered for about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Remove pork from the pot and let it cool. When cooled, begin shredding the meat into fine threads.
2.In a large saucepan, boil the chile ancho for about 10 – 12 minutes or until softened. Drain the chiles and save the water. Rinse the seeds out of the chiles. Put the chiles, garlic and cumin in a blender and blend. Add the 2 cups of reserved water and blend a little. In a heavy, large-size saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons pork lard over medium heat. Add the drained chile puree, reduce the heat to low. Cook over low heat for about 10-15 minutes. Take sauce off the heat. (save ¼ cup of this sauce to color the masa). Combine the pork with the chile sauce.
3. Place 10 pounds of masa in a large mixing bowl. Pour water and add the baking powder over the masa evenly. Add salt and begin mixing the masa with your hands. Add the pork lard and two ounces of chile ancho sauce and knead the masa once more. Masa is ready when it starts to feel thick and compact. Pad it down and set it aside.
4. Soak the dried husks in warm water for about an hour and a half or until soft. Drain the husks well; pat dry with paper towels. Spread about 2 spoonfuls of the masa on each cornhusk. Put 2 spoonfuls of the pork filling down the center. Place 1 olive in the center. Fold husk and secure with strips of cornhusk. Steam for about 1 hour.
5. Use a stock pot with a steamer insert. Add enough water as to keep it below the steamer. Add a few husks to prevent the tamales from getting wet. Tamales must be placed open side up along the inside of the stock pot. Place extra husks on top the tamales and cover the pot. Steam for about an hour.
We usually cook the pork and make the chile sauce the day before so that it is less prep the day we are cooking the tamales and serving them.
Usually make about 4 to 5 dozen tamales