I do not know where these tasty meat pockets have been all my life! When I first saw this challenge at the beginning of the month I was a little bummed since I much prefer sweet to savory when doing a Daring Bakers challenge. But I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome and I encourage you to try these. You won’t be disappointed. Especially with the meat! I would’ve eaten it plain from the pot and not even have made the dough if I didn’t have a post to write! It is very, very good.
The February Daring Bakers’ challenge is hosted by Julie of One-Wall Kitchen. She challenged us to an easy, simple filled bun using no-knead dough.
These siopao make a great meal. You can make them ahead of time and all you need is a side of veggies and you’re good to go. While these are traditionally steamed, this version is baked.
As I said before, the meat is to die for. So good. For real. My house smelled heavenly while it baked. DO NOT leave out the star anise! It’s subtle but adds so much. I scored 2 in the bulk section of my grocery store for $0.20!
After a slow roast, chop it up and return it to the juice for an overnight mingling of flavor. This may not be totally necessary, but I think it made the meat more flavorful and juicy. Lots of fat will harden on top if you chill it, so remove what you can (this was tricky and disgusting for me so I gave up quickly) then slowly heat it just to get everything back to a nice juicy state. Drain the meat and onion and reserve the juice. It makes for a crazy good sauce later. Also, a nice layer of fat will form on top of the reserved juice. Remove it or pour the juice slowly into your saucepan and the fat should stay in the container. Sorry for all the fat talk.
To everyone who doubted me and said encouraging things like “You know tamales are really hard, right?” I have one thing to say…I made tamales and they were spectacular!
Happy New Year! To bring in 2010 we had a tamale party on New Year’s Eve. The holiday issue of Fine Cooking magazine had a section devoted to tamale making complete with step-by-step instructions and photos. This is so helpful when attempting to make something for the first time that requires a certain method to achieve success. I would have been a wreck without those pictures! After a few completed tamales it was a breeze, and I feel like next time I will be even better at it.
In Mexico, tamales are traditionally served at Christmas or New Years, so this seemed like the perfect meal for the party. I read through the recipe at least a dozen times in the 2 weeks before New Years to make sure I had everything I needed and wasn’t going to find myself in a position where it’s the day of the dinner and something has to sit overnight. This has happened to me. It is no fun.
I made the rather unwise decision to really talk the party and the tamales up to my friends. Why did I do this? I have never made tamales, and there would be no sweet old Mexican grandmother to assist me in my quest. I had no good reason to tell everyone how good these tamales would be! The nervousness began to set in as the day approached. What if everything went wrong and we had to order pizza? Pressure.
I was so thankful to have a few days of vacation left at home to prepare for tamale night. I made the pork and the sauce for the tamales the day before, which made life so much easier when it came time to assemble these lovely corn husk packages of masa and tender pork. Like little presents! Trying to make these in one day is definitely possible. You’d have to start pretty early and be prepared to wash a tremendous number of dishes. The tamales would be served and you’d probably be exhausted, but one bite of these tamales and you would be so overwhelmed by the deliciousness in your mouth that you would forget all about the mess in your kitchen and the hours you spent in there!
The flavors and textures are terrific. The masa is smooth, creamy and rich. The pork is tender with just enough spice. The chiles provide a nice smoky flavor to the sauce that is the perfect complement to the tamales. Don’t be turned off the the long list of ingredients or amount of prep work. These are so delicious. So perfect. So worth it.