tamale town

So, for those of you who aren’t my fb friends or missed that update, and are wondering what’s up around here, the fella and I are taking a little break right now… it’s a break, not a break-up, but it still sucks. He’s not happy about it, I’m really not happy about it, but sometimes… life, you know? It’s hard enough for mere mortals, but we always seem to bite off a really big piece of the project pie and set unbelievably lofty expectations for ourselves. Hopefully a little time and space will sort it out, soothe the day-to-day frustrations, and remind us what’s really important and what we really need to be happy. I’ve been sad and mad and just plain numb about it, and I’m sick of sad. So what to do? Things you’ve been meaning to do, or putting off, or just plain been lazy about… lord knows I’ve got a million projects like that, and so does he, and that’s part of the problem. So before we tackle the big big stuff, let’s get some small stuff out of the way.

I don’t know what works for you, but I know what works for me… Tamale time. You can cry into your cutting board a bit if you must, but nothing warms the soul quite like these little packages of husky happiness. And whenever I feel lost or like I don’t know which way is up, stepping in that kitchen where everything makes sense and usually comes out fantastic or at least according to expectations helps set everything right again. Lose yourself in the work and you will find that you are found. This train’s still moving, folks. Next stop, tamale town.


Start with six pheasants. The fella’s coworker’s dad bagged these in South Dakota… The dog ate the wings, feathers and all. Crazy pup.


The rest went into the crockpot with an onion, a head of garlic, and a couple cayenne peppers from last summer’s garden.


Finally found a pre-made mole base that doesn’t have hydrogenated gunk in it. Score. It’s good.


Let the birds go all day on low, then picked ’em. Look at that gorgeous stock! Reserve the wishbones. You might need them… or I know I’ve got a few.

Thin the mole base with some of the stock and whisk until it’s a nice consistency. I added some to the reserved stock in the jars which will go into the masa dough for extra flavor.

Pour it over…
And mix it up!


This is the fat from freezer pig. Haul the whole sucker out and hack off some manageable pieces. Chop them as fine as you have patience for (that was big chunks for me this time).


Put the fatty goodness into a heavy-bottomed pot, add a cup of water, and render on low heat. Ladle off the goodness as it breaks free! The first renderings are white and clean tasting, and the later scoops are darker and more meaty.

Mmm. Cracklins. Try not to eat too many of these. Save them for salad… or cornbread. 🙂

Jars of gold!
Buttercream? Meringue? Or porky porky goodness? Chill and then whip the lard until it is light and fluffy.

Soak your cornhusks in boiling water and gather any garnishes…

Finished masa dough: mix masa and stock to a stiff dough (I add a sprinkle of baking powder and a generous dash of salt) and drop the dough balls into the mixer a little at a time. Whip it up!


Set ’em up, roll ’em up, and load your steamer. Find something to do for the next hour (dishes, anyone?).


Aw yeah… pheasant mole tamale basket! Ain’t no tears in here, folks.

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