Perhaps one of the most memorable Christmas moments was the year my husband made tamales for our family. If you know my husband, there isn’t an ounce of Latino in him. But the time he spent in college working as a restaurant line cook brought out his inner foodie, and admittedly, he is much better in the kitchen than I am. In the Hispanic culture, tamales can be enjoyed year-round, but during Christmas, families across the world celebrate with this traditional dish. Last week, I gathered with a group of friends to partake in a traditional tamalada, also known as a tamales-making party.
Traditionally, tamales are made out of a masa (also known as a dough), filled with meat, cheese, fruits, or vegetables, and steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper. The actual process of making tamales varies widely across different Latin countries, and later this week I’ll show you how to make Puerto Rican Tamales (aka Pasteles). In our family, there is just one Pasteles recipe..the one my father made…the one that’s been passed down over the years and this is often true in Latino families with their own tamales recipes.
When my husband made tamales a few years ago, my parents and I helped with assembling each one, and I remember how lengthy the process was. Last week when Nicole hosted our tamalada, we had a lot more hands joining the assembly line and the process seemed much more organized…practically seamless! It helped that Nicole had already prepped the masa and Yvonne, Denise, and Stephen brought the fillings, already prepared.
Since we’re talking tips, I thought I’d share some of my favorites, picked up from our tamalada party and my husband’s ambitious adventure a few years ago. Here are my 5 tips on how to host a tamalada:
1. Prepare the masa ahead of time. Confession: The year my husband made tamales, we purchased the masa from Whole Foods.
2. Season the masa. I gleaned this tip from our friends over at Latino Foodie and this is especially important if you use prepared masa. Latino Foodie has some valuable tips on the perfect tamal so be sure to read their post before making your own tamales.
3. Prepare a variety of fillings to appeal to diverse palates. You can get creative with fruits or veggies, particularly for those adhering to special diets, but remember to include traditional meat and cheese fillings. Tradition is an important part of any tamalada.
4. Be sure to use a quality stock pot, large enough to steam the tamales. I am loving my new stock pot gifted to me by Princess House at our tamalada. It’s made from gorgeous stainless steel (the same ones used by the pros) which means our tamales will taste exactly how we prepared them! Their stockpot also features vented glass lids to allow for the slow evaporation of liquids when steaming foods, which is important when cooking tamales.
5. Get everyone involved…after all, it’s a party! Along with assigning everyone a task, why not encourage attendees to bring along their favorite prepared fillings?
Each of us brought side dishes to compliment our tamales and our festive gathering was the perfect segue from Thanksgiving into the Christmas season!
There were so many tamales, that we each got to take some home to enjoy at home with our families along with a gorgeous stockpot to steam them in. If you don’t have a lot of experience making tamales, I highly recommend checking out Princess House’s tips!
This is part of a sponsored campaign with Latina Mom Bloggers and Princess House. However, all opinions expressed are my own.
Images: Rockin’ Mama unless otherwise noted.