Tuesday, April 2, 2013

TAMALES!!!! Oh, yes, Paleo Tamales.

If you miss tamales like I missed tamales, you will be excited to read this recipe from "My Paleo Life"

I think that next time, I will try steaming some jicima and mix it in with the plantains.  Or, possibly just seeing if I can substitute the jicima for plantains.

First off, I have never made tamales before, it always seemed to make more sense to buy them, but you try and find ANYONE that makes Paleo Tamales.  Plus, we gave up having other people make our food long ago, so it has been more years than I can bring to memory since I had tamales.  Husband occasionally splurges at work when the wife of a certain co-worker makes a big batch and lets him know that she will make extra if he wants to buy some from her. At a dollar each, he normally gets a dozen.

I had always thought that a buck a piece for tamales was a little on the high side.  Having made them myself now, I can say that a buck each is a steal!

8 Green Plantains @ $ .62 each                                                     $4.96
2 cups butter                                                                                   $2.29
2 tbsp baking powder                                                                     $  .05
2 tsp salt                                                                                         $  .03
Bone broth - drizzled                                                                     $  .15
Parchment Paper                                                                            $1.00
1/2 Pork Loin                                                                                 $9.86
Taco mix                                                                                        $  .35
                                                                                TOTAL  =  $18.69

I made a total of 20 tamales, so each one was 94 cents.

First, I made the "masa".  I got out my big soup pot.  I washed and cut up my plantains, and set them aside.  Filled pot with water and poured in some salt, then placed on the burner to start the boiling thing.

Boiling plantains!  :-)
While that was working on coming to a boil, I got out and assembled everything else.  It was at this point that I realized that I forgot to take some bone broth out of the freezer, so I did that at that time.  I filled a bowl with hot hot hot water from the tap and put my freezer bag of bone broth into it for defrosting.

The masa: Plantains, butter, baking powder, salt, and a small bit of bone broth.
Then, I grabbed the pork mix that I had made a few days ago.  I had prepared the pork loin by rubbing it with the package of taco seasonings, and putting it on low in the crock pot for 8 hours.  When it was done, I shredded it and put it in the fridge to await the making of the tamales.  Now, I took it out. :-)

Anywhoo, back to the recipe... I made the masa in 2 batches.  It took no more than a drizzle of the bone broth, to make the texture into what I thought looked right for masa. I am quite proud of myself for getting it right, especially since I had never made tamales before. :-)

Dumping the plantains in the now boiling water, I settled in to cutting my parchment paper.  I made them longer than suggested, and later on, I regretted that action.  They were not so long that I could not fit them into the steamer, but they did wind up being too long to be upright.

Tamales in the steamer - too long to remain upright.
I used the spaghetti pot as a steamer.  Water in the bottom, and the spaghetti rack as a steamer rack for the tamales.  I think it is a great re-purposing of some of our pre-ancestral kitchen gadgets.

Thing1 and Thing2, along with a friend, started begging for bowls of the pork filling almost as soon as I took it out of the refrigerator.  I let them take an occasional sample "for taste testing purposes".  All agreed that the pork was rockin' good. <preening>  Keeping the "samples" to a minimum took some haggling.  I finally had to tell all three girls that they could have the leftover pork if there were any leftovers.  Frankly, I do not know how many more tamales, or how much more meaty they could have been, if I had not allowed the girls to skim from the top.

masa spread on a parchment paper, covered in pork.

Rolling the tamale

Finished product

LOTS of finished products!

Taste test.  Mmmmmmm!!!

Husband's homage to the Mexico flag, in the spirit of the dish.
Half of the total amount was in the meat, so next time, I will try to cut costs by making a less expensive meat.  I think that  will be rubbing tilapia down with some taco seasoning and baking it.  Tilapia tamales sound good too! :-)


Update 4/13/13
I have made this two more times since the first time, with great results!  I made the same amount of masa, because I was using a 3lb bag of tilapia, and thought that I would need the same amount of masa.  Yeah, not so much.  I only used half, so I am putting the amount for the masa as $4.42.

Luckily, a friend of mine kindly gave me some slow cooked pork.  Recently, she and I had gone together to Cooks Natural Market, where she picked up an 8 lb organic pork loin - YUMMY! She told me that she was going to make Puerco Pibil, the meal that Johnny Depp keeps ordering in "Once Upon A Time In Mexico" She and I are both fans of Robert Rodriquez films, and she has the DVD of OUATIM with the recipe for Puerco Pibil in a 10 minute film short.  You could have knocked me over with a feather when she gifted me with about 5 lbs of the dish.  Honey and I had it for dinner one night, I had it in lettuce wraps for lunch twice, and I still had loads of it.  I put it in the food processor with some bone broth to break it down, and paired it with the remainder of the masa from the fridge.  At this point, the masa was three days old.  I knew it would need to soften, so I took it out in the morning to warm up.  5 hours later, I opened the gladware container.  It had warmed considerably, but it was still crumbly.  In working with it a bit, I saw that the more I worked it, the more it softened, so I worked the whole batch until it was nice and supple again.  The process took a good 5 minutes.

In doing the recipe twice more, I have mastered the art of making the masa thinner.  From the fish batch, I got 31 tamales, and from the Puerco Pibil batch, I got 19 tamales, for a total of 50 tamales from the same amount of masa that had previously made only 20 tamales. The tamales were shorter, so that they would fit into the steamer, but not so much shorter that it would account for being about to make 2.5 times more tamales from the same amount of masa.

Fish Batch = $4.42 + $5.49 = $9.91 / 31 = $ .32 each tamale
Puerco Pibil batch = $4.42 / 17 = $ .26 each tamale


  1. I love making giant batches of tamales and have been trying to find a good substitute for the masa, I was considering either going with a coconut flour experiment or a plantain experiment, thankfully I found this and will be going with plantains!!!

  2. Oh, cool. I have never tried to freeze my tamales. Please per me know how they freeze, and how you re-heat them, if it is not too much trouble. :-)