This week Monday I had to make tamalitos. I say had to because when that corn is ready to use, I only have about a 2 or 3 day gap where I can do it.
Here in Belize it is illegal to raise genetically modified corn, so I don't need to worry about developing allergies or other health problems from field corn. Yoohoo!
The corn hair is almost dried off, but best if still a little soft close to the ear. The kernels should squirt juice if pinched with a fingernail. If they don't, the corn is overripe. I did not have to get it from the field, but the boys who did it for me, chopped off the bottom part of the ear. This makes for easy peeling.
I had my sister-in-law over for this time. It is always much more fun if you do big chores like these with someone as nice as her...:) Plus it gave the young cousins a good chance to play together.
For me, the best thing to do before the corn arrives from the field is to prepare everything. Lay everything out that you will need. Salt, sugar, butter, chicken powder, onion, or whatever else you feel like adding.
Get your blender out. Or your mother-in-law's, if you don't have your own.
Put the canner or other huge pot on the stove on low heat to steam the husks in, and fill with about a third full of water. Now, when the corn comes, you are ready to roll!
Everyone can pitch in with peeling it...
Save the nicest husks for later. You want to save about two of the prettiest and biggest husks layers, but not the hard outside ones. Somewhere in the middle are a few that will be perfect. You'll see.
You want to peel the corn carefully, because we will be using the husks to wrap the corn in later on...
You want to steam the husks for several minutes until they are more pliable. Set aside.
In a cookie pan, I put a cutting board, and with a sharp knife slice the kernels off the cob. Just one slice should do it; if you go too deep, you will get too much starch, and the tamalitos end up being too dry.
Once you have a blender full, add a little moisture like water or milk, and blend away! The mixture will be somewhat runny, but that's ok. The starch should thicken it up. Pour into a big bowl and put in freezer or refrigerator until you have all corn blended. With one batch you may add some onion if you prefer, but this is optional. I had pre-made some ground chicken, so I added that to the batter. This does not have to be done but if you prefer it to be a whole meal, then adding some meat is a good idea.
I am really bad when it comes to exact measurements. God had given us the ability to taste, and I always rely on that when it comes to making tamalitos. I will include a basic recipe though to make it easier for you.
Add some melted butter (or margarine), salt and just a little bit of sugar to taste. Add chicken powder too, or do without. This is optional as well. Keep tasting to see when you have gotten it to taste 'right' for you.
Here I had forgotten all about taking photos, so let's see if I can just explain it. Once you have all ingredients mixed, take two husks, and put one on top of the other as in the below photo of a done tamalito.
Add a serving spoon of the batter, and wrap the sides over it, and then fold the tips of husks inward. Place upside down so it won't open. Don't worry if it will drip a little. It should keep enough moisture.
In the pot or canner, have a rack in the bottom where you stack your tamalitos. Pour some water on, and cover with lid. Cook for one hour. Remove and cool, or eat while hot.
You can freeze these and they will remain good for several weeks. Heat up the same way you cook them, but just till they are heated through.
If anything is not clear but you want to try making these, feel very free to ask more questions.
one blender full of field corn
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons chicken powder (consomme)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 stick butter or margarine
1/2 - 1 cup of milk or water, (depending on how ripe the corn is)
You might prefer it saltier, so be sure to test taste it to see when the flavor suits you. Or you might prefer more sugar, or no sugar at all. Or more consomme and less salt. I think you get the idea! Go with what works for you.