In Tamales, Alice Guadalupe Tapp shares over 60 recipes covering this iconic Mexican dish.
Oxtails are a staple food in my family and are common in Cuban, Jamaican, Mexican, French, English, and Spanish home cooking. Many cooks use pressure cookers or slow cookers to cook them faster. Most supermarkets sell oxtails, but if you don’t see them in the meat case, ask the butcher.
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add the oxtails and brown on all sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the oxtails to a plate. Add the onion, garlic, and celery to the pot and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato, stock, water, bouillon, and spices and stir to combine. Add the oxtails back to the pot, cover, and simmer for 4 to 41/2 hours, until the meat comes easily away from the bone. Check often to add water, 1 cup at a time, if needed.
- Remove the oxtails from the pot and place on a plate to cool. When cool, remove all the meat from the bones and set aside. Discard the bones. Pour the gravy into a bowl and place in the freezer for about 45 minutes, or until all the fat has formed a layer on top. With a large spoon or spatula, scrape off all the fat and discard, then mix the meat into the gravy. Taste and adjust flavor the seasoning.
- Assemble the tamales, using 1/4 cup masa and 1/4 cup filling for each tamale. Transfer to a steamer and steam for 55 minutes.
- Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add one-third of the fresh masa alternating with one-third of the stock, then add the salt. Beat until well mixed, adding more stock if needed, turn the mixer to high, and beat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the dough resembles spackling paste.
- Take a small piece (about 1/2 teaspoon) of the dough and drop it into a cup of cold water. If it floats, it is ready; if it sinks, whip for another minute and test it again. Repeat this process until the masa floats. Note: The fresher the masa, the faster it will become light and fluffy enough for use.
Reprinted with permission from Tamales, by Alice Guadalupe Tapp, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC. Photography copyright (c) 2014 Sara Remington