It means different things to different people. My people are of French-Canadian stock and think of Tortierre and Maple butter on fresh homemade bread. For my partner, whose family is from Nicauragua, it’s Nacatamales.
We went to California for Christmas a couple years ago and had traditional Nicaraguan Nacatamales on Christmas eve. Every culture has their traditional foods, so I could relate to the significance of the Nacatamale. What’s more, as someone who loves to cook, I could see the skill needed to make such a delightful package. Challenge accepted.
This past Christmas, I set about the serious business of making Nacatamales. Not just any Nacatamales, but the very best ones I possibly could.
Here’s how I did it.
I started with the dough
I added the following to a pot, cooking on high and stirring constantly:
5 cups white MASECA®
6 Cloves of garlic
12 ounces Butter
2 cups Milk
¼ cup Orange juice
Once the batter was cooked and no longer sticking to the pot, I removed it from the heat.
Here’s where I cheated a little. I took a large package of pork seasoned and marinated for fajitas (which you can find in any HEB grocery store here in San Antonio) and cut the meat into small cubes. I placed them all in a large frying pan and cooked thoroughly before draining the liquid.
Then I Prepared the Filling:
4 Tomatoes, sliced
1 Medium Onion, sliced
1 Green Pepper, sliced
1 Package Dried Pineapple Pieces
1 cup Uncooked rice (soaked in water overnight)
These were easy. The market down the street sells Banana leaves in their frozen food section.
I cut the Banana leaves into 5″ wide strips and got a ball of hemp twine ready for wrapping.
Building the Perfect Nacatamale
Once I had everything laid out and ready for production, I started building the nacatamales, one at a time, with all the care and love one should when making soul food. Follow the photos and you can’t go wrong.
When you’ve assembled them all, steam in a tamale pot for 2 hours and Voila!