Saturday, June 20, 2009

Oxtail tamales with red chile sauce, lavender rose gelato

Oxtail was on sale the other day and I picked up about 2.5 pounds of really meaty pieces. I roasted them and a couple of carrots for an hour at 400 degrees, then put them into a pot and covered them with water. They simmered overnight and most of the rest day, because I was busy. Saved the broth and picked all of the meat, got about four cups as well as three quarts of broth. Put all away for tamale day.

I'd already made red chile sauce, recipe from Rick Bayless. No tomatoes, just dried red chiles, onion, and garlic with chicken broth. I needed almost two cups for this meal. Perfect, that's what was in the jar. (I think I'm going to make a really big batch of that and can it.)

Put the broth on to reduce by about a third with about 2 T salt, three sprigs thyme, and 2 t cumin. The meat goes into a heavy skillet with some heated olive oil. Fried the meat until it was starting to get crispy. Added about a half-cup of minced onion, 2 t of Goya adobo seasoning., 2 t cumin, 1 t ground guajillo chile, and about 6 T of the red chile sauce. Stirred and cooked that until it was fragrant, then adjusted seasoning. Ladled in about a cup of the broth, 1 T roasted peeled and minced jalapeno and 1/4 C roasted peeled minced poblano chile. Cooked until dry, set aside.

I buy paper "husks" made especially for wrapping tamales, and put 30 of them into hot water to soak for about ten minutes while making the masa.

For the masa, beat 2/3C lard in a stand mixer until fluffy. While it beats combine 2 C maseca for tamales, 1 t baking powder, 1/2 t salt, and 2 C of the broth, which by now had reduced and cooled to lukewarm. Put this mixture in with the lard and beat it on medium speed until it is light. It should be about the consistency of cake frosting.

Prepare a steamer with about an inch of water in the bottom. A pasta pentola works well as long as the inner basket does not sit on the bottom of the pot. Bring the water to a simmer but don't put the basket in until you have filled it with tamales.


The husk is roughly triangle shaped. Put it on the counter in front of you with the point at the top. Using a teaspoon, put about 1/4 cup of the masa in the lower left corner of the husk, spreading it into a rectagle that runs about halfway up the left side of the husk and about halfway across the bottom. Spread it with the back of the teaspoon; if you start trying to spread it with your fingers you will not have much success. Spread lightly, getting a 1/8-1/4" layer. Don't worry if it isn't perfectly even or smooth -- it will swell during cooking and hide many "imperfections." Use about 1-1/2 T of the meat and arrange it in an even stripe top to bottom, with the right side at about the midpoint of the masa. It can go all the way to the top and bottom of the rectangle. Carefullylift the left side of the husk and fold it over to meet the other edge of the masa. Continue to roll the husk to the right, then lift the roll up gently and fold the "point" down against the loose end. Place the tamale in the steamer basket with the fold down. Yes, you leave the top open. This recipe makes 24-30 tamales. Once they are all standing in the basket, put the basket in the pot and cover it gently with a cloth. Cover the pan and bring the water up to a simmer. Steam the tamales for one hour, checking occasionally to see that the water level is okay and adding boiling water if needed.

The tamales are done when they pull away cleanly from the husk. These tamales are pretty delicate; they can in fact be kind of a lacy covering over the meat rather than a "masa bomb." If you want a sturdier tamale, you can make the masa layer thicker.

While the tamales cook, reheat your sauce. Serve the tamales over and under the warm sauce. This recipe makes a pretty mild tamale, as I like to be able to taste all of the components rather than battling heat. You can add more hot red or green chile to the meat filling, to the sauce, or even hot chile or chile sauce into the masa mixture.

Oh yes, the dessert. I got fresh lavender in the CSA basket this week (yea the farm season has started!) and a friend made the brilliant suggestion that I make ice cream. I still have lavender honey and Moroccan roses I got when we were in Nice and decided all of those things belonged together. I put 3-1/2 C whole milk, 1/4 C heavy cream, a pinch of salt, a 1/4 C each lavender honey and light corn syrup into a saucepan and brought it just to a simmer. Took it off of the heat and added 2 T fresh lavender flowers and three roses (crumbled). Use less of the lavender if you have dried, of course. Put a lid on the pot and set it aside for 30 minutes, then strained it into a container and chilled it for eight hours. Freeze according to your machine instructions. I was surprised how much I could taste the lavender honey, and pleased that the flavors were not overwhelming.


Suzanne said...

This makes me hungry just reading it!

ShellyJ said...

That's what I like to hear! Thanks!It was really good. And tamales reheat so well that we really loved the leftovers, too.