Pan de Muerto and Tamales

I am a little late but we finally had my Dia de los Muerto meal last night and it was great! Red rice, refried beans and tamales. It was as authentic tasting as you can get this close to Canada, with one exception, the method of wrapping.

Traditionally tamales are wrapped in a corn husk before steaming. It’s 50/50 whether or not I get those to turn out. This time I cut parchment paper squares and filled them just as I would a corn husk, it worked so well! I did still put the husk in the bottom of my steamer (my metal colander and soup pot). I don’t know that I will fill the corn husks again until I am trained by a little Mexican grandma.

Tamales in Parchment - Wildflowerfarm.orgThe tamales filling is rehydrated Ancho peppers, garlic, onion and chicken, wrapped in a masa paste if you will. They were then topped with a green sauce, made with tomatillos and pablano peppers. Delicious! The red rice was made with brown rice, pureed tomatoes, celery and onion. I make my refried beans with lard or bacon fat, pinto beans and some spices. My tamales and green sauce recipes can be found at the bottom.

Tamles -

As I mentioned previously, I had hoped to make Pan de Muerto for Dia de los Muerto. The first round didn’t work. They looked nice and where the density of a hockey puck. I tried the recipe again, this time with none of my own changes. Again I had lovely, golden brown, sugar-coated hockey pucks. The third try, I made a few of my own changes again- the recipe called for 2 cups of sugar, to the 7 cups of flour. I’m pretty sure that’s where the density problem lies. That recipe turned out a little better but still not good. I then tried it with new yeast, thinking maybe my yeast had gotten old.

Hockey pucks.

I have decided that recipe is wrong and will not be trying that one again. From what I can see the dough is a sweet dough, that is rich with butter and eggs. Something similar to brioche or challah. This bread is driving me too crazy to wait for next year to try again. I am making my own recipe now.

Dead Mans Bread

I finally came up with something edible. However, I didn’t realize it would almost quadruple in size, so I still ended up with an ill-shaped, basketball loaf of bread. It needs work and for now will wait until after the holidays. I have a deer hide to tan and Christmas baking that needs to begin are just a couple things on the never ending list of things to do.

Tamales with Verde Sauce
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Tamales with Verde Sauce
Print Recipe
Meat Filling
  • 1 each Whole Chicken
  • 6 each Garlin Cloves
  • 1 each Yellow Onion sliced
  • 10 each Dried Ancho Chilies seeded and stems removed
  • 1 tbsp Lard
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 4 cup Masa
  • 2 tbsp Lard
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Chicken Stock
Verde Sauce
  • 1 lb Tomatillos husked and cut in half
  • 1/2 cup Chicken Stock
  • 1 each Poblano
  • 6 tbsp Cilantro
  • 1/2 each Yellow Onion chopped
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
Meat Filling
  1. Place the chilies in a medium sized bowl and pour hot water over them. Let the peppers sit for 10-20 minutes to rehydrate.
  2. Place the chicken in a stock pot, add enough water to cover the chicken. Chop 3 of the garlic cloves and add them to the pot as well as the onion. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through
  3. Reserve the broth. Shred the chicken.
  4. In a sauce pan. sauté the rest of the garlic cloves with the chilies in the lard for about 5 minutes. Add the salt and shredded chicken.
Masa and Assembly
  1. Combine everything in a medium mixing bowl and stir for 5 minutes.
  2. Using corn husks that have been soaked until pliable, or parchment paper squares (about the size of your hand), spread 1-2 tbsp. (I use more and make them a little bigger, but traditionally -1-2 tbsp.) of masa mixture onto the center of the husk/paper.
  3. Pile about the same amount of chicken mixture on the masa. Fold the husk/paper- one long side over, then the two short sides in, followed by the last long side. Tie with a piece of butcher twine to keep them folded.
  4. If you are lucky enough to have a steamer place a couple corn husks in the bottom of the basket and line the edge with the folded tamales. If you do not have a steamer, use a large stock pot with a few inches of water at the bottom, place a metal colander into the pot (this must not sit in the water only above it!).
  5. Do the same, place the husks on the bottom of the colander and line it with the folded tamales and cover with the pan lid. Steam these for about one hour- Keep and eye on the water in the bottom of the pan you do not want it to run dry. To serve remove them from the husk/paper.
Verde Sauce
  1. Place everything but the cilantro into a sauce pan and cook until everything is very tender.
  2. Add the cilantro and puree. Serve this over the tamales
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