I know nothing about tamales, I have only eaten them a few times and it has always been in a cafeteria setting. I can only imagine that those are the bottom of the barrel tamales and even they aren't bad. I would really like to get out and try some really good authentic tamales to see how good they can be. When I decided to make tamales I went at it with no knowledge of what was needed. I have a shit ton of dried corn that I have been using for everything form grits to cornbread and figured I could use it to make tamales. Unfortunately there are several step in between whole dried kernel and tasty tamales.
There is a process known as nixtamalization that the corn is subjected to. It is a process that exposes the corn to and alkaline solution which allows the corn to be hulled and adds nutritive value to the corn. It also allows the corn to be ground finer. It is this nixtamalized corn that is typically used to make tamales. I wasn't about to try to nixtamalize corn so I tried to find a recipe that used freshly ground corn. I couldn't find one. So I set out to create my own recipe using what I had read about tamales as a guide.
I whipped pork lard with my mixer and to that I added fresh ground corn that I had soaked in wild turkey stock. My mixture was a little wet but I used it any way just to see if it would work. As a filling for my tamales I used some braised elk tongue that I had shredded up.
I placed all of my tamales in my steamer and steamed them for a little over and hour. I was afraid they were going to stay runny and not turn out but to my surprised they turned out exactly how I wanted them to.
My tamales dough was wonderful, the corn set and held together well. the dough wasn't smooth and had the texture of good cornbread only a little firmer. For a guy who had no clue what he was doing these actually turned out OK. I will have to try them again to see if they work but at least now I have another way to use up the 30 pounds of corn I have in the freezer.
My Tamales Dough
2 pounds of ground corn meal
1 pound rendered pork fat
3 cups of wild game stock, (chicken stock would work also)
salt to taste.
Mix the corn and stock and let stand for about an hour. whipped the lard in a stand mixer and then slowly add the corn mixture. When all the corn is mixed in scoop about a 1/4 cup of the dough mixture into the prepared corn husks and spread the dough over the husk. add your filling of choice and then roll and tie the tamales. Steam for an hour and serve.