Learning to Make Tamales in Vegas

Friday, Evan and I headed out to Vegas to visit his friend Adam, go to Adam’s girlfriend’s birthday party, and just get out of LA for a bit.

I never knew Vegas could be so relaxing: We stayed at Adam’s house, we only went into one casino, and we never drove down the strip. We had some relaxed dinners, made about 300 tamales for Rosie’s party, and learned how to make gourmet jello shots.

For me, making tamales was one of the high points of the weekend. I’d never made them before, and I was very happy to learn with Rosie’s family in the kitchen. We started with premade masa in giant bags, various meats (pork, beef and chicken, all cooked and seasoned before I arrived) and corn husks soaked in water.

We got into an assembly line: one person washed the corn husks to make sure they didn’t have any hairy tendrils left; another person made balls of masa into little pancakes, then put some meat in the middle, folded the pancake over and pinched the ends closed; another person took the finished masa-meat pockets and folded them into a corn husk, by first wrapping the husk around the sides of the mixture, then folding up the bottom of the husk, while leaving top end still open.

I stayed on husk-folding duty until it was time to make some veggie tamales — for those, we put strips of potato, carrot, green peppers and queso fresco in the masa pocket.

When the tamales were all prepared, we arranged them, open end up, in giant steamers on the stove, poured in boiling water, and steamed them for a few hours. Surprisingly, they stayed hot for hours after they were done cooking.

The tamales were a hit at the party, and we got some leftover veggie ones to bring home — thanks for the care package!

Note: I know I should just take my own pictures so I can stop staying this, but photos of the tamale-making process should be coming soon.

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