This is one of my husband's favorite "Comfort Foods" (he's Colombian). He even said I made it right the first time I tried! The process is relatively involved - overnight marinating is recommended and it steams for three hours. It is nothing like Mexican Tamales or "Hot Tamales". These are wrapped in banana leaves rather than corn husks, are much larger, and not as spicy hot.
- 3 chicken thighs, skin removed and cut in half lengthwise with equal portions of meat
- 6 pork ribs (spareribs)
- 3 bunches green onions (scallions)
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons sazon goya (2 packets)
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1⁄4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1⁄8 cup sugar
- 1⁄2 cup white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 cups masa harina, prepared with chicken broth instead of water and a little salt
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1⁄2 cup frozen green pea
- 2 large red potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into sticks like French fries
- 3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced (optional)
- banana leaf, cut into 12 inch square pieces, rinsed in very hot tap water
- kitchen string
- aluminum foil
- Prepare the marinade the night before you plan to make the tamales. Chop one bunch of green onions. Mince 2 garlic cloves. Combine, then add 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1 packet of sazon. Rub mixture all over both chicken and ribs. Place meat in separate plastic baggies to marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
- Next make the “hogao,” a kind of sofrito. Combine chopped tomatoes, 1 bunch of chopped green onions, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 packet of sazon, 1/6 cup of chopped cilantro, olive oil and salt to taste in a skillet and saute until everything is soft and tender, kind of like a mush. Cool and refrigerate until ready to assemble tamales.
- Now you can make the "pique" sauce. Combine 1 bunch chopped green onions, 3 cloves minced garlic, fresh lemon juice, remaining chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, sugar, vinegar and salt to taste. Make this at least 2 hours before serving so flavors develop.
- Prepare masa harina according to package directions except use chicken broth in place of water and salt to taste. This mixture should have flavor unlike an arepa which is more bland (my husband says the masa is the best part). It should be fairly moist, but still stay together like a dough when pressed. If it is too wet you can still use it, it is just more messy.
- Now the hardest part is assembling them. Place about 1/4 cup of dough in the center of a banana leaf and spread it out. Put one rib and one chicken thigh piece on top. Place about 3 slices of the carrots, 6 potato sticks and 3 slices egg on top of the meat. Sprinkle with peas. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the "hogao" (sofrito) over all, then top with another 1/2 cup of spread out masa. This does not have to be uniform or even neat.
- Next pull up the sides of the banana leaf to form a packet. Tie with kitchen string, but do not let any of the filling seep out (I told you it was hard). If the leaves break just reinforce with extra banana leaves. Wrap packet in aluminum foil. Repeat 5 times.
- They are now ready to steam. Use a large Dutch oven with a steamer insert so the tamales do not touch the water in the bottom of the Dutch oven. These need to cook about 3 hours. You probably will have to replenish the water during the cooking process. Stack the tamales all the way to the top in the steamer pot and turn up the heat to high. If your pot does not hold all of them, just refrigerate or freeze the rest until you can steam them later. When you hear the water boiling furiously, turn the heat down to medium.
- Serve the tamales on a section of banana leaf. With the "pique" sauce on the side to be drizzled on bites of the tamale.