Tamales are something typical here in Mexico. It is not known where tamales originated exactly, or wich current country has the honor of calling them theirs, the only thing known is that they first originated in central America on prehispanic times. Now, there´s something certainly true, Mexico has the most variety of tamales, about 5,000 types, according to some sources and that´s something to be proud of.
Tamales have been with us for a long time now, and even after the spanish came here, they´re still with us.
We were born and grew up in the state of Sinaloa, which is located in the north of Mexico. Something funny though is that tamales vary a lot across the whole country. In Mexico city corn tamales with green or red sauce, filled with beef or chicken are popular. In Oaxaca they eat tamales wrapped in banana leaves and filled chicken or pork, although they also make tamales filled with iguana meat, along with yellow mole and chipilin. In the Huasteca zone, which includes states like San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Queretaro and Hidalgo they make Zacahuil, which is a big tamal. In yucatan they have the tamales yucatecos, with banana leaves and filles with cochinita pibil. In Michoacan they have corundas, which are some sort of vegetable filled tamales. There are also asturian tamales, which are a spanish mixture, filled with smoked ham, cheese, bacon, etc. In Sinaloa and Sonora pure corn and beef tamales, with chili painted dough are typical. These only corn “tamales de elote” are sometimes called “tontitos” (dummies) because they have no filling, so they have no brain per se, these could be salty or sweet, resulting in several variations, using different fruits and other ingredients, which are also made all over the country.
These pineapple tamales belong to the last group of tamales mentioned. So if we were to put them into a category they would be something like “Tamales tontitos de piña dulces”
To me, these are, along with the beef and chili and the pure corn ones, the best ones, but then again it may have something to do with the region I was born into.
All of this is fascinating to me and I hope it is to you too, reading this from any other pat of the world, and for you to someday make this recipe at home and love it. That´s the beauty of cooking, it somehow brings people together.
- Corn husks enough pieces
- 2 cans (28 oz each) (800 gr each) sweetened pineapple slices with syrup
- 4 cloves whole
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 4.40 oz (125 gr) unsalted butter
- 4.40 oz (125 gr) vegetable shortening
- 2 C white sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 can (11.50 fl oz) (340 ml) evaporated milk
- 1 1/2 C pineapple juice
- (1 kg) corn flour (we recommend maseca)
In a big bowl with water soak the corn husks and leave them there.
In the blender, blend the pineapple syrup of the two cans, 6 of the pineapple slices, the cloves and cinnamon, sift this mixture then pour onto a bowl and set aside.
On a cutting board, cut into small chunks the remaining pineapple slices. Add this pineapple chunks to the previous mixture and mix using a spoon.
In a big bowl, using your bare clean hands, mix the butter, vegetable shortening, and sugar, until well incorporated, and the butter turns a little whitish.
Now add the baking powder, salt and evaporated milk and mix again.
Add the pineapple mixture to the main, butter one and incorporate still using your hands.
Add a third of the pineapple juice and mix, then a third of the corn flour and mix again, alternating between the juice and flour, ending with the last conr flour third, kneading, so that a soft and easy to handle dough results.
You may need to add some more water, if that´s the case start by adding 1 C , and only if needed add the second cup.
Drain the conr husks and dry them a little with a kitchen towel. Cut and pull some of the corn husks to create strings which will serve to tie the tamales up.
Assemble the tamales. You can do this two ways, one is by taking about half a cup of dough and placing it onto a corn husk, in the middle, to then fold and wrap the corn husk into itself and tie up the top part with one of the strings., which results in smallaer than usual tamales, just like ours in the pictures. The traditional way is to take one corn husk and place about 1 1/2 cup of dough on it to then start rolling horizontally, using a second corn husk if neccesary, as if wrapping a classic candy and then tie the tamal up on both sides. Both ways are correct.
Once ready, place them in a big steaming pot and cook to medium high heat on the stove for an hour aporx. being careful that the pot doesn´t run out of water in the process so that the tamales don´t burn.