Cempazuchi Tamales in Banana Leaves
Source: Bryce Clark, Cempazuchi restaurant, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
This is an authentic recipe, using lard. Solid vegetable shortening may be substituted.
1 pound boneless pork or chicken
2 onions (divided)
2 garlic cloves (divided)
1 tablespoon corn oil
2 cups pureed tomatoes, drained
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 cup lard (divided)
1 pound Masa Harina (see note)
3 large banana leaves (see note)
Prepare filling: Place meat in water to cover, with 1 onion cut in half, 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped, and salt to taste. Cook slowly until very tender, about 50 minutes. Let cool, drain, and shred meat with 2 forks.
In large saucepan, heat oil. Saut? 1 finely chopped onion and 1 minced garlic clove until translucent. Add meat and saut? 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, cilantro and salt to taste. Simmer about 10 minutes, until well cooked and thickened.
To make masa: Set aside 2 tablespoons lard. Beat Masa Harina with remaining lard and salt to taste for about 5 minutes, until mixture is spongy.
To make tortillas: Soften banana leaves by holding over open flame for a few seconds until warm and pliable. Leaves will become shiny and fragrant. Cut 2 large leaves into 6-inch squares. Lightly grease outside of squares with reserved 2 tablespoons of lard. Turn over, and place about 2 heaping tablespoons filling on each square. Cover with about 2 heaping tablespoons masa. Fold edges of squares toward center, enclosing filling and making tightly wrapped rectangular package. Then tie each tamale with small strip of leaf. Repeat with remaining banana leaf squares, lard, filling and masa. There will be some masa left over.
Line steamer with remaining leaf, then add water to steamer. Arrange tamales in steamer, cover, and steam 1 hour, until cooked. Makes about 16 tamales.
NOTE: Masa Harina, a finely ground corn flour, and banana leaves can be found at Mexican specialty stores and some supermarkets.