The Mexican BBQ Party Series: Meats and Tamales

I can't even begin to pretend that I was the one who thought to make tamales. That was all Jason. An absolutely fabulous idea, that now has us conjuring up a storm of ideas on how we can become best friends with Amber Wojcinski (the girl behind the tamales at Las Manas Tamales at the Green City Market). Hint, hint: My next post in the Green City Market series will feature the delectable tamales from Las Manas Tamales.

To finish off the Mexican BBQ Party Series, I give you the meats of the evening! We opted for a grilled halibut and pork tenderloin. These both work well in tacos and are packed with flavor.

Roasted Chicken and Cilantro Tamales
 (makes 10-15 tamales)

2 bone-in skin on chicken breasts
2 tbsp cumin
olive oil
salt and pepper
4 cups masa (can be purchased at any Mexican market or in Mexican section of market)
10-15 corn husks (soaked in water for 20 minutes)
1 1/2 cups queso fresco (crumbled)
2 cups fresh cilantro (chopped)
cooking twine

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the chicken breasts in olive oil, cumin salt and pepper and place on a foil covered baking sheet. Roast in oven for 40 minutes. Remove and let cool. Remove the skin, and shred the meat off the bone.

Set up an assembly line in the following order: corn husks first, masa, queso fresco, cilantro and chicken. Take a corn husk and spread a couple big spoonfuls of the masa in the middle of the husk. Layer some cheese, cilantro and chicken on top of the masa. Fold the husk in half long-ways (hot dog fold) to get all the ingredients in a tight little pocket (pack it into a little bundle). Unfold the husk, and fold one of the short sides up about 3 inches. That will form the bottom of the tamale so nothing pours out. Next, roll the tamale, up and tie it with kitchen twine.

Fill a large pot with about 3 inches of water and bring to a simmer or low boil. Place a steamer or colander in the bottom of the pot. Place the tamales in the steamer or colander, open side up. Cover the pot and steam the tamales for 45 minutes. The tamales will be done when the inside pulls away from the husk with ease. The tamale should be soft but not mushy. Serve with your favorite salsa like the salsa verde we served it with!

Lemony Grilled Halibut

2 lbs fresh Halibut (we had 10 people, so adjust as necessary)
1 lemon (juice and zest)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Coat halibut filets in salt and pepper on both sides. Combine all other ingredients in large freezer bag. Add the halibut to the freezer bag and coat with the oil and seasoning. Seal bag and let marinade in the fridge for about an hour.

Heat grill to medium heat. Grill on each side for 4 minutes. Don't overcook or you will be sorry. Slice into strips and serve with your tacos!!

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

2 lbs pork tenderloin
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground chipotle pepper
1/2 tsp ground ancho pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/3 cup salt
1/3 cup sugar

First you will need to soak the pork in a brine. Fill up a large pot or pan with room temperature water. Add the sugar and salt and add the pork to the water.  Place a heavy lid on top of the pork to keep it immersed in the water. Let sit in brine for 1-2 hours (unrefrigerated).

Preheat grill to medium heat. Remove from brine and rinse. Pat dry with a clean kitchen towel. Rub the pork with the rest of the spices to cover the whole slab of meat. Throw on the grill for 25 minutes, rotating sides to cook through.

Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting. Slice into pieces and serve with tacos or whatever you wish!

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