Food and Entertaining

I Tried To Make Ancient Tamales • Tasty

[Music] hello i’m hannah hart and this is edible history the show that takes our modern mouths on a journey through time itself today we’ll be unwrapping the history of tamales for those who may not come across them often tamales are a staple of latin american cuisine while i love tamales i don’t know anything about their history yet which is why i’m talking to claudia alacon a food historian with a special focus on mexico can you tell me a little bit about the origins of the tomah the earliest evidence we have is from the maya area the oldest thing they have found is a mural in northern guatemala that dates to about 200 bc in the records that we have they show us like round little balls today they’re made mostly flat or cylindrical wow so people have been making tamales for almost thousands of years it’s a very ancient food in mesoamerica can you tell me a little bit about how they would prepare them the maya did not leave recipe books unfortunately for us but we do know that they use the species of animals and plants that were available to them we can hypothesize that of course they use the maize the corn to make the masa and animal proteins probably such as iguana or fish or wild boar or turkey can you tell me a little bit about how they would prepare the masa this is a process that was invented in the area of mesoamerica that we refer to as nyx thermalization that softens it and makes it easier to grind and easier to digest and absorb the nutrients within the corn so can you tell us a little about the filling we’ll be making today the recipe we’re making today is a traditional maya tamale that is called mukbi poyo because you’re trying to research how things would have been made before the conquest we’re going to be making it with turkey which was an ingredient readily available and endemic in the maya area how do you think i’m going to do today i’m going to go and i’m going to start grinding and i don’t know what i’m going to finish i’m sure you’re going to do well you’re going to have some strong arms to grind that that corn with that stone so the first step is mixtamalization intimidating name intimidating process mixtalization is the process of removing the husk from the corn and making it workable and edible so here we go we take our beautiful white corn kernels we add our water and last but not least slacked lime now i’m not referring to lime as in the fruit i’m referring to lime as in limestone this is calcium hydroxide which is going to serve as the activating agent in this process when i picture masa i always picture it as being kind of a yellowy powder but this is pretty white oh wait oh my god they’re already turning yellow they’re changing color i did not expect this [Music] it’s been about 30 minutes and wow this thing has gotten even more yellow the husks have completely dissolved i thought that they would be here floating in the water but they seem to have just kind of melted away all right now we’re just going to set this aside cover it up and let it rest overnight [Music] and we’re back welcome to day two of making masa now we just got to remove the corn and give it a quick rinse before it’s ready to grind this rinse washes off the excess lime now we’re gonna strain it one more time and that should be the last of it alright let’s get ready to grind [Music] let’s get to grinding take a handful of corn all right oh wow this is gonna be hard what’s cool about this is that this is the actual volcanic rock they would use for the grinding the surface is the perfect texture for this oh my god do we have enough for a tamale it can be little too small i can’t imagine doing this for hours [Music] all right i could call myself a little bit of a awesome master now we’ve got a lot a lot of masa that we can work with check this out the texture is really something that like you just can’t imitate this is stone ground you know it takes a lot of work to do this and people had to do this every day for hours to feed each other that’s amazing [Music] now it’s time to make our filling we’re going with turkey a native of north america and a tasty angry bird this is three and a half pounds of just straight up turkey breast oh gonna need two hands okay i hope it fits in the pot up next we’re gonna be adding some mexican oregano so we’re gonna do a small pinch of this and next we’re going to add specifically four whole allspice berries lastly a hearty pinch of salt and then enough water to cover the turkey breast and cook it for about an hour you just want it to be tender and you know falling off de bone do a crossword a hard one that’ll take like an hour all right now it’s time to check on our bird that is a cooked looking turkey it’s time to start shredding now we’re going to save some broth to use later in the recipe okay i have to say making this filling has been a fulfilling eggs burial our next step involves thickening our broth to do this it’s actually pretty cool first we’re going to ladle out some of the broth and then we’re going to thicken it using our masa we’ll give that a nice little stir and let it start to heat up while that’s heating up we’re going to make our blend of herbs and spices small caveat we don’t know exactly what herbs and spices they would have used for their seasoning so we’re gonna go with peppercorn salt and achiote which is wild i’ve actually never cooked with this before let’s grind up our peppercorn a little pinch of salt shabang and all of our achiote paste [Music] and blend it all together that is such a gorgeous color so we’ve got all of our elements now it’s just time to bring them all together so now we are in our tamal home stretch everybody it’s only been a smooth five hours and we’re getting closer oh wait it’s also been a full night of sleep wow these take a minute so our next steps involve going back to our turkey broth we’re gonna add about three tablespoons of liquid onto the fun part so how many of you know what this is this is a habanero pepper it is one of the hottest peppers on the scoville scale because of that i’m gonna put some gloves on to ensure my safety okay we’re going to slice it in half then we’re going to remove the seeds and now we’re going to chop it up just a little and then place our pepper in our little brothy doo the most dangerous part of this whole meal is over next we’ll be adding an herb called episote also give this a rough chop voila now we are going to remove our gloves avoid touching the board and add oh bye-bye gloves all done with you just don’t want to let go it’s my show next we’re going to add our seasoning [Music] now we’re going to give it a quick little stir to kind of let it you know saturate get to know each other mingle next we’ll be adding our tomatoes gonna give these a gentle stir and then last but not least we’re going to add our turkey we’re going to mix it all together and let these flavors marry ah beautiful phrase all right look at that color um well i want to eat it so bad and last but not least we’re gonna add our thickened broth so we’re gonna give this a hearty stir set it aside and then finally we can start assembling our tamales i gotta say guys making all that masa was a real grind [Applause] so here we are the home stretch the tamal phenol first we’re going to wet our masa with broth your goal is to get it to the consistency of kind of a pie dough now the masa itself is also pretty wet it retains moisture really well so if you look it clumps together pretty easily okay now we’re going to kind of knead it together you can try lots of things but don’t use my kneading method i’m not a good kneader it’s hard to express what you need right now we have every element that we’ve been working with and it’s time to bring them all together we’ve got our delicious looking filling our great totally worth the effort masa our broth which just seems to come in handy all the time and now the final element [Music] right now in its raw state it’s not as flexible it’s a little breakable and that’s really not something we want to work with the trick is to take a banana leaf and gently run it over a very high heat this makes it more pliable check it out oh that is so cool careful not to burn it or you see huh whoa what a bendy friend now it’s time to finally assemble we’re going to take a handful of our masa we’re going with around a shape like claudia mentioned now we’re going to take our wrapper place it matte side up shiny side out and then add our filling i think theoretically you can like kind of pinch it all together but uh i’m just gonna put another layer of moss on top i mean this masa was a lot of work so i’m gonna use as much of it as possible put a layer on top and then kind of pack it all in let me just seal up these edges now it looks kind of like a biscuit and voila a little tamale ball we’re gonna place it in our leaf flatten it just a touch and then wrap it like a package hey i mean not so bad it’s kind of like the first pancake moment you know it’s the experiment next we’re gonna take our banana leaf string warm it up a little bit and tie it all together and voila set this aside make some more and then later i’ll show you how to steam it our last little tamale now originally tamales were steamed underground unfortunately since i could not dig a hole here no matter how much i asked politely multiple times we’re gonna have to just pour some water in this pot and throw it in the oven all right let’s get steamy [Music] it’s time for tamales i could not be more excited to eat this let’s see how they turned out oh baby baby i can smell the corn but then it’s also got that floral hint coming from the banana leaf okay oh i mean they look awesome but frankly we won’t really know until we unwrap these bad boys i gave it my all and i got a tamale okay nice okay good wow it’s rustic tasting it’s a little earthy tasting but it’s really satisfying wow i know i just keep saying wow but i kind of love it i think i like banana leaf wrap tamales the masa acts like its own part of the meal i have to say that the modern day tamales i’ve had don’t have as much masa flavor it blends beautifully my palette super happy what else is there to say besides that’s a wrap thank you so much for watching this episode of edible history i hope that you like me never look at tamales the same way
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