The tamale is recorded as early as 5000 BC, possibly 7000 BC in Pre-Columbian history. Initially, women were taken along in battle as army cooks to make the masa for the tortillas and the meats, stews, drinks, etc. As the warring tribes of the Aztec, Mayan, and Incan cultures grew, the demand of readying the nixtamal (corn) itself became so overwhelming a process, a need arose to have a more portable sustaining foodstuff. This requirement demanded the creativity of the women.....hence the tamale was born!
The sizes, colors and shapes varied almost as much
1 pound package of dried corn husks (found in the hispanic food section of the supermarket) 4 cups of Maseca (found in the hispanic food section of the supermarket)
1 cup of pure lard
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups of very hot water or broth
Prepare the cornhusks.
Soak the husks in very hot water until the husks are pliable making sure to the clean the husks of any corn silk that may be on them.
Separate 24 to 26 of the largest husks. Pat dry with a towel.
Prepare the batter. With an electric mixer on medium speed beat the Maseca, lard, baking powder and salt. Reduce speed to low and carefully add the hot water or broth 1/2 cup at a time until well incorporated (it should hold its shape in a spoon)
Form the tamales;
Hold the husk into a inverted V, With the back of a spoon or a tamale spreader spread the masa mixture out on the cleaned corn husks about 1 1/2 inch from the top. Be sure to coat evenly and not too heavy, about 1/4 inch in thickness.
Fill the tamale in the center with your favorite meat choice about 2 tablespoons.
Fold the sides of the husks in towards the center and fold the top over.
***Please Note; husks have a smooth side and a rough side to them, you want to make sure to coat the smooth side of the husks***
Place in steamer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Remove tamales from husks when ready to serve. Top with your favorite salsa or sauce.