Just Good Food

by John Ryan


Preparing the Husks
and Making the Masa


Corn husks are always full of surprises. As you'd expect, there's corn silk between the husks, but I've found leaves and dried bugs as well. It's all harmless and easy to discard.

Soaking the husks:
The first thing you'll notice is that the husks float and seem water resistant. I find that standing them up vertically in a large Tupperware bowl or the pot that I use to cook pasta and using hot tap water works the best. The tops will be bobbing out of the water, so after 15 or 20 minutes, I just flip the husks.


You'll need:
1 pound corn husks
Lots of hot water


Separate the husks, discarding silk and foreign matter. Soak the husks in hot water for about 30 minutes. Then set aside about 70 of the biggest ones for the tamales. Make ties by tearing the torn or small husks into 1/4-inch strips. You'll need about 120 ties. Save the other husks for back up. Don't allow the husks, especially the ties, to dry out. They need to stay wet to be flexible.


Making the Masa:
14 ounces lard (the rest if you bought 1 pound)
8 cups masa harina
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
Approx. 8 cups pork broth
1/2 cup chile purée


(You'll probably have to do this in two or three batches.) Beat the lard until it's fluffy, then alternately add masa harina, baking powder, salt, and pork broth until it's the consistency of frosting, thick but spreadable. Then add the chile purée.


I have some space here, so I'll warn you, you're going to have too much or too little of something. Don't worry, if you did this every day, it'd be one thing, but for a one shot deal...don't be hard on yourself.

Here are some ideas:


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