Yucatan Venison Tamales

Serve Size: approx. 2 dozen tamales | Prep Time: 1 hour | Cook Time: 4 - 6 hours | Total Time: 5 - 7 hours

Tamales are incredibly versatile. And while we're laying out a recipe here, we encourage you to experiment and explore with fillings as you hone your tamal making skills.  

Ingredients:

Meat:

Braising Liquid:

  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 tsp Montana Mex Jalapeño  seasoning
  • 1 tbsp Montana Mex Chile seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 limes
  • 1 orange
  • 1/2 lb roma tomatoes, thick sliced
  • 1 white onion, thick sliced

Masa:

  • 4 cups corn masa
  • 1 qt game or chicken broth (or water in a pinch)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups lard or vegetable shortening
  • 3 lbs Banana leaves, defrosted if frozen
    **NOTE: Cooking in leaves is a traditional method throughout Mexico, and the choice of leaves vary by region. We are using banana leaves as homage to our roots in the Yucatan. If you are unable to find fresh or frozen banana leaves locally you can easily swap for dried corn husks which can be found in the ethnic isle of most grocery store. 

    Garnish:

Method:

Meat:

1. Combine dry seasonings. Coat the roast with avocado or other quality oil. Season roast liberally until fully covered. 

2. Sear the roast on high until evenly browned on all sides and then remove from heat. While the roast browns, create braising liquid. 

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Braise:

1. Using a mortar and pestle, food processor, or blender combine all the dry ingredients and grind or blend until a smooth paste is achieved. Add the juice of the limes and orange, reserving the spent orange peel. 

2. Line a large, deep sided baking dish with banana leaves if you have them. Place browned meat, tomatoes, onion, and spent orange in the dish. Add braising liquid and fold leaves to completely cover the meat. Seal the dish tightly with tin foil and cook at 325° for 4 - 5 hours in a covered grill or oven. Check the meat at 3 hours, flip the meat top to bottom and continue cooking for an additional hour or until the meat is fork tender. 

3. When the meat is cool enough to handle, use a fork or other tool to shred the meat off the bone. Incorporate the cooked onions, tomatoes, and braising liquid into the meat. Taste and adjust the filling with salt if needed. 

montana-mex-yucatan-venison-tamales-braise-roast-meat-banana-leaves
montana-mex-yucatan-venison-tamales-fork-tender-braised-venison-roast
Masa:

1. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment or a large bowl + spoon, blend the dry ingredients. Add the broth and stir until evenly distributed. Using the paddle attachment on low speed, add the lard and whip until the masa is of a uniform and even consistency. 

Assemble:

1. Prep the banana leaves by wipping with a clean, damp kitchen towel and then heat with a blow torch or open flame - this makes the leaves more pliable and easy to fold.  Cut the leaves into approximately 10" squares. 

2. Lay out the leaf and spread an even layer of masa about 1/8" - 1/4" thick in a rough 5" x 3" rectangle. Place spoonfuls of filling along the center of the masa. Using the leaf, fold one side over the filling and then pull the leaf back - the masa will remain wrapped around one side of the filling. Repeat on the opposite side and the top and bottom. The filling should be completely surrounded by masa. Fold the leaf around the tamal to create a tight packet and set into a deep pot lined with a shallow steaming rack. Repeat this process until all your tamales have been assembled. 

3. Cover the pot with a lid and steam the tamales over medium-high heat for 35-45 minutes. 

**Note: The cooking time will vary depending on how full the pot is and the size of your tamales. Keep an eye on the weather level and add water if necessary to prevent your pot from running dry. A cooked Tamal will carry the same even texture across its surface when unwrapped and the masa will be slightly darker and firmer than its raw version. 

To Serve:

Enjoy with generous bath of warmed Habanero salsa and a sprinkle of crumbled Cotija cheese or salsa roja for breakfast lunch or dinner! 

montana-mex-yucatan-venison-tamales-cojita-cheese-habanaro-salsa-serve-garnish

 

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