Saturday, May 15, 2010


Makes 12

5 ounces (2/3 cup) fresh pork lard, chilled
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 scant teaspoon salt
2 cups coarsely ground (1 pound) fresh masa, or 1 3/4 cups masa harina mixed with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot water, cooled to room temperature
2/3 cup chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, preferably homemade

4 ounces dried corn husks

6 large dried New Mexico chiles, stems removed, seeded, and torn into 4 pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
12 ounces lean boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt

To make the batter: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the lard, baking powder, and salt. Beat until light and fluffy. Add 1 cup masa and 1/3 cup stock; beat until thoroughly combined. Add the remaining masa and 1/3 cup stock; beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. The batter should be soft but it should hold its shape in a spoon.

If using fresh masa, test the batter to determine if it is adequately fluffy (this will ensure light and tender tamales): Drop 1 teaspoon batter into a cup of cold water. If it floats to the surface, it is ready.

Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Store batter in an airtight container, refrigerated, up to 2 days.

To make the wrappers: Reconstitute the corn husks by placing them in a deep saucepan and covering them with water. Set saucepan over high heat, and bring to a boil.

Transfer husks and water to a heat-proof bowl. Set a small plate on top of husks, keeping them submerged. Soak 1 hour. Remove from water.

To make the filling: In the jar of a blender, combine chiles, garlic, pepper, and cumin. Add 1 1/2 cups water, and blend until a smooth puree forms.

Strain mixture into a medium saucepan. Add the pork, 1 3/4 cups water, and salt. Place over medium heat; cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has reduced to the consistency of a thick sauce and the meat is very tender, 50 to 60 minutes. Using a fork, break up the meat.

Return the tamale batter to the mixer. On low to medium speed, mix the batter for a few seconds to lighten the dough. Add 3 tablespoons sauce; mix again to combine.

You may need to add a few tablespoons or so of chicken stock. The batter should not be stiff, but slightly loose and not runny. Remember, the lighter the batter, the more tender the tamale.

To assemble the tamales: Unroll one large reconstituted corn husk; tear lengthwise along grain to make 1/4-inch-wide strips (two per tamale); if strips aren't long enough, tie two together.

Place another long piece, lightly dried, on work surface, pointed end away from you; scoop 1/4 cup batter onto middle of one end. Spread into a 4-inch square, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border on pointed end and a 1-inch border on the other sides. Spoon 2 tablespoons filling down the center. Bring long sides together to form a cylinder, making sure the batter encases filling. Fold the pointed end under; tie loosely with husk strip. Fold the flat end under; tie. Repeat.

Reserve smaller husks to line the steamer basket and cover the tamales.

To steam the tamales: Set steamer over high heat. When steam puffs out, reduce the heat to medium. Steam 1 hour 15 minutes, adding more water when necessary. To check for doneness, unwrap a tamale: If ready, dough will come free from wrapper and feel soft. If dough sticks to wrapper, rewrap, and steam 15 to 20 more minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 15 minutes for batter to firm up. They will remain warm for about 1 hour.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Beef Consomme with Homemade Beef Stock

  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, crushed
  • 4 egg whites
  • 4 eggshells, crushed
  • 3 roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
  • ½ lb premium ground beef (sirloin)
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 cups veal or beef stock (recipe below)


Whisk peppercorns, egg whites, and eggshells until the mixture turns foamy. In a food processor, pulse together the tomatoes, celery, and beef a few times.

Combine the veal or beef stock, the vegetable-beef mixture, the eggs, thyme, and salt in a large stockpot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, without stirring, for 30-40 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth. Discard contents of sieve and salt broth, if desired. Serve hot.

Makes 10 servings.

Beef Stock

  • 2 pounds meaty crosscut beef shanks (preferably 1 inch thick)
  • 2 pounds meaty crosscut veal shanks (preferably 1 inch thick)
  • 2 onions, quartered and left unpeeled
  • 1 carrot, quartered
  • 4 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 16 1/2 cups cold water
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • Special equipment: cheesecloth; kitchen string
print a shopping list for this recipe


Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.

Spread beef shanks, veal shanks, onions, and carrot in a large flameproof roasting pan and roast, turning occasionally, until well browned, about 1 hour.

While shanks roast, wrap parsley, thyme, and bay leaf in cheesecloth and tie with string to make a bouquet garni.

Transfer meat and vegetables to a 6- to 8-quart stockpot. Straddle roasting pan across 2 burners, then add 2 cups water and deglaze pan by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Add deglazing liquid to stockpot along with 14 cups water, celery, salt, and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil and skim froth. Add remaining 1/2 cup water, then bring mixture to a simmer and skim froth. Simmer gently, uncovered, 5 hours.

Pour stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing hard on solids, and discard solids. If stock measures more than 8 cups, boil until reduced to 8 cups; add water if stock measures less than 8 cups. If using stock right away, skim off and discard fat. If not, cool stock completely, uncovered, before skimming fat (it will be easier to remove when cool), then chill, covered.

Cooks' note: Stock keeps, covered and chilled, 1 week or frozen 3 months.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pate de Campagne, First Iteration

3/4 cup Cognac
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup minced onion
2 1/2 pounds ground pork
12 ounces bacon (8 to 10 slices), finely chopped, plus 14 bacon slices (for lining pan)
3 garlic cloves, pressed
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 6-ounce piece ham steak, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
Coarse sea salt
Dijon mustard
Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 350°F. Boil Cognac until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 1 1/2 minutes. Cool.
Melt butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent but not brown, about 8 minutes.
Combine ground pork and chopped bacon in large bowl. Using fork or fingertips, mix together until well blended. Add sautéed onion, garlic, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, thyme, allspice, and pepper to bowl with pork mixture and stir until incorporated. Add eggs, cream, and reduced Cognac. Stir until well blended.
Line 9x5x3-inch metal loaf pan with bacon slices, arranging 8 slices across width of pan and 3 slices on each short side of pan and overlapping pan on all sides. Using hands, lightly and evenly press half of meat mixture (about 3 1/4 cups) onto bottom of pan atop bacon slices. Arrange ham strips over in single layer. Top with remaining meat mixture.
Fold bacon slices over, covering pâté. Cover pan tightly with foil. Place pan in 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan and transfer to oven. Pour boiling water into baking pan to come halfway up sides of loaf pan. Bake pâté until a thermometer inserted through foil into center registers 155°F, about 2 hours 15 minutes.
Remove loaf pan from baking pan and transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Place heavy skillet or 2 to 3 heavy cans atop pâté to weigh down. Chill overnight. DO AHEAD Can be made 4 days ahead.
Place loaf pan with pâté in larger pan of hot water for about 3 minutes. Invert pâté onto platter; discard fat from platter and wipe clean. Cut pâté crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.