Confessions of a taco bender

This morning I woke up to that drip around the eaves – I finally turned on the heater today. Wet days I like to stay inside, but I won’t run the heater all day – instead I’ll do some cooking.  Now’s the time to whip up a casserole big enough to eat for a few days. The other day my husband and I made tamales and we’re still talking about it.

I always think these things will take all day, so I put the rice on early to get that over with. First you should wash brown rice, it’s dusty. 

I'm cooking a big batch here because I use it as the base for my dogs' food. I'll take a cup or so of the cooked rice for our dinner.

I’m cooking a big batch here because I use it as the base for my dogs’ food. I’ll take a cup or so of the cooked rice for our dinner.

I wash it around in a big pot, pour off the dirty water 4 or 5 times, then dump it in this ginchee wire colander for about 10 minutes to drain. Then I pour it out on a paper towel – or two – to dry for another half hour or so. 

Spread it out even with your hand - it will get so dry you'll think it just came out of the bag.

Spread it out even with your hand – it will get so dry you’ll think it just came out of the bag.

Time to pour it into boiling water – for each cup of rice use about 2 cups of water. Takes about 35 minutes – it’s done when the water is all boiled out. It’s nice to cook it early in the day and let it set, the kernels plump up and get chewy and nice. 

That is probably the most involved part of this meal, and the rice doesn’t even go into the tamales, I like to put it underneath my tamales to catch the rich green dripping sauce.  Actually, I put most of it in my dogs’ food, I’ll blog that another time.

About 4 pm my husband comes in from chores and gets the skillet out to cook the chicken filling. We use boneless chicken thighs for this dish, starting with some sauteed onions and green peppers (our friend is still giving us bags of his sweet peppers), and adding some canned corn and canned green chili sauce – MILD! We haven’t cooked our own beans since we started using Rosarita canned pintos – we’re not the best bean cookers, and when you get to be our age, it can be…hmmm…uncomfortable to eat poorly cooked beans, so we used canned. We add the onions, peppers, canned corn and a touch of chili sauce. 

Meanwhile, I make the tortillas. Let me warn you – once you make your own tortillas, you will not only never want to eat store bought again, but you will notice every time you come close to the tortilla section of the store you will be repulsed by the smell of old tortillas. 

You can buy Maseca corn flour at any grocery store. It's so easy - add water in the correct proportion, and you get a very friendly dough. You portion it into little balls, and lay it down on your press - I use an old rice bag to keep the dough from sticking to the press - it peels right off.

You can buy Maseca corn flour at any grocery store. It’s so easy – add water in the correct proportion, and you get a very friendly dough. You portion it into little balls, and lay it down on your press – I use an old rice bag to keep the dough from sticking to the press – it peels right off.

It's like a play-doh machine, perfect every time!

It’s like a play-doh machine, perfect every time!

You don't cook them all the way through for tamales, leave them pliable.

You don’t cook them all the way through for tamales, leave them pliable.

I get into a rhythm – by the time I’ve pressed another cake, it’s time to turn the first, and by the time I get the second cake off the press and take it to the stove, time for the first cake to come off the skillet. I stack them on a little plate and wrap them in a paper towel. 

Now my husband sets each tortilla on the skillet to warm it up again - I could have cooked the tortillas much earlier with the rice - and loads it full of filling. He stacks them in the baking dish, and ladles in some chili sauce.  Don't forget to cover the bottom of the pan with chili sauce, keeps them from sticking.

Now my husband sets each tortilla on the skillet to warm it up again – I could have cooked the tortillas much earlier with the rice – and loads it full of filling. He stacks them in the baking dish, and ladles in some chili sauce. Don’t forget to cover the bottom of the pan with chili sauce, keeps them from sticking.

Here's where I realized - our kids have moved out, but we're still cooking for three to four people.

Here’s where I realized – our kids have moved out, but we’re still cooking for three to four people.

Here we are, empty nesters, but we still make these huge dinners.   For a minute as I looked at this pan, I thought, “oh no! This will end up going to waste! We’ll get sick of eating tamales at every meal!” 

We put foil on for about 20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling, then add some grated cheese and put it back in. The foil goes underneath just in case the sauce gets overexcited.

We put foil on for about 20 minutes at 350, until the sauce is bubbling, then add some grated cheese and put it back in for 10 or so. The foil goes underneath just in case the sauce gets overexcited.

Well, that was Tuesday. Since then I have watched my husband get that pan out repeatedly – tamales and eggs for breakfast, cold tamales for lunch, and then last night, we heated up six of them and ate them again for dinner with sour cream and a big crunchy cabbage salad. I was shocked how good it  tasted – in fact, this is a dish that is better left over. The fresh tortillas soak up the sauce and get all gooey and congealed, feels so good going down. 

I still eat at Mexican restaurants and love the taco truck, but not as often. 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s