"Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage."
C. S. Lewis


Certain foods have the ability to conjure up memories of family events - one of these is tamales. Because it is quite a process to make, it often involves help from other family members and a whole day set aside to accomplish.  My earliest memory of tamale making was with my Aunt Mary and Uncle Tubby - I must have been about 8 or 9 years old. My cousins, Aunt and Uncle as well as my family all worked on the different steps throughout the day - I am sure I probably was just getting in the way since I was so young.

The first steps - take two large roasts and cover with water. Add garlic, salt and pepper - bring to a boil and then simmer covered for several hours until the meat is tender. You will probably have to add water to keep the meat covered and to prevent it drying out.  Once the meat is cooked, drain off the liquid, let the meat cool and shred into bite sized pieces.

This is what the meat will look like

Next place a large bag of dried chile pods -( this is what the label on the bag we used looked like)

Cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer covered for several hours (about two) until the chiles are tender. The chiles will begin to "cook down", just add hot water as needed so they don't dry out or burn.  There are many different kinds of dried chiles and I am sure their are personal preferences as to which you will choose to use - The ones we used are the "Chile California"

 When the chiles are tender, drain off the liquid (reserve the liquid)  and allow to cool. When they have cooled sufficiently to handle, pull off the stems and put the chiles in a blender with sufficient reserved liquid and blend thoroughly until you have a good thick consistency like tomato sauce.
This "chile rojo" (red chile) can be used for enchiladas, chile colorado and many other dishes.

Next is getting the corn masa ready to use. You can purchase "masa preparada" in the Mexican grocery.  We had 10 lbs of masa to work with. Let it come to room temperature before you begin to work with it.  After you have the consistency you want you will add the red chile little by little