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Old 02-08-2016, 10:34 PM   #1
Collar_N_Cuffs
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Has anyone ever used a Romemertopf to steam tamales?

I steam my tamales in my Romertopf 111, but the husks can get dried out and crispy on the ones that are near the outside edges. They cook through, some of them just get a bit overdone. I soak the Romertopf for about 30 minutes, then fill it with tamales, put it in a cold oven and cook at 350 for about 2 hours. Any less and the masa doesn't cook, but as mentioned the outside ones get crispy.

Anyone have any advice?
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"The collared and cuffed curly bird is a gregarious and engaging bird, most frequently seen in America, but has been spotted in Europe where it makes itself right at home, enchanting Europeans with its dance and whistle. Though an omnivore, it is fastidious about its cuisine, making some effort to eat favoured titbits over easily plentiful supplies of lesser foods. This bird is also known as the Frivol in some localities."
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Old 02-09-2016, 12:55 PM   #2
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I have a couple of suggestions. Some are obvious, like ensuring that your husks are saturated before you wrap the tamales but also not letting the tamales sit for long once they've been wrapped. Depending on the relative humidity where you live, the husks can begin to dry out pretty quickly. That's the case where I live.

Tamales seem to cook best by convection. In a big tamale pot the husks aren't exposed to much in the way of conduction heat because the fire is at the bottom where the water is, and the tamales are raised above it and bathed in steam. Since you want to be cooking with steam as much as possible in the oven, you may be able to add some moisture and raise the temperature in your oven (reducing the cook time). Not knowing how well the Romertopf seals, I don't know how well this will work.

Another thought is to insulate the tamales from the sides of the Romertopf by adding a few rolled up, empty, saturated corn husks to prevent the tamales from coming into direct contact with the sides. This will help reduce conduction.

A final thought is your tamales themselves. What kind of moisture are you using in the tamales themselves? You may be able to compensate a little by adding some extra moisture to the mix. Too much masa can make tamales dry and increase their cooking time, so you may want to experiment with smaller tamales to help cut down on the cooking time. Lastly, ensuring that your tamales are folded tightly will also help them to retain moisture while they cook.

Good luck.
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Old 02-09-2016, 01:31 PM   #3
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Without knowing all the recipe details, the first things I would suggest would be make sure you're soaking your corn husks long enough in hot water (at least an hour). The second thing would be to lay an extra layer of soaked corn husks on the bottom of the clay pot to add more moisture to the overall mix. The drying out and crisping up of tamales generally happens when you've run out of steam and they're being exposed to hot dry air.
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Old 02-09-2016, 05:07 PM   #4
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Good suggestions all, thank you!


My mix is sufficiently moist, and cooks perfectly when I just use the steamer. I'm afraid that if I make it any more moist the ones in the middle of the clay baker will be kind of claggy, I don't want that. And it seems way too finicky to make a different mix for the inside and the outside..

I think what I will end up trying is setting my Romertopf into a large, low pan of water so the clay doesn't dry out. I also liked the idea of lining it with extra husks, and putting a layer of empty husks to the outside. You always have husks that are too small, or the weird wrinkly ones - I would rather use them than throw them away. And I soak my husks for a very long time, 2 or 3 hours actually, so I know it's not lack of initial moisture in the husk.

Ok, I have some good ideas now for the next time. Thank you!

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"The collared and cuffed curly bird is a gregarious and engaging bird, most frequently seen in America, but has been spotted in Europe where it makes itself right at home, enchanting Europeans with its dance and whistle. Though an omnivore, it is fastidious about its cuisine, making some effort to eat favoured titbits over easily plentiful supplies of lesser foods. This bird is also known as the Frivol in some localities."
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Old 02-09-2016, 06:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Collar_N_Cuffs View Post
I think what I will end up trying is setting my Romertopf into a large, low pan of water so the clay doesn't dry out.
I'm not sure that this would work, but then I'm not familiar with how these pots are constructed and fired. The clay is porous, but I suspect that it won't draw water through. That would be a great question to send to their technical support folks.

That might also wind up giving you very uneven cooking from top to bottom, extending your cooking time. The water in the pan will reach a maximum temperature of 212F (the boiling point of water) while the air above will be hotter.

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You always have husks that are too small, or the weird wrinkly ones
And you say that you're not a size queen? :-P.
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Old 02-09-2016, 08:58 PM   #6
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Put a coin in the bottom
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Old 02-09-2016, 11:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pplwatching View Post
I'm not sure that this would work, but then I'm not familiar with how these pots are constructed and fired. The clay is porous, but I suspect that it won't draw water through. That would be a great question to send to their technical support folks.

That might also wind up giving you very uneven cooking from top to bottom, extending your cooking time. The water in the pan will reach a maximum temperature of 212F (the boiling point of water) while the air above will be hotter.
Yes, and after I said that I began to worry about disparity in temps and cracking the clay, I think I wrote that one off.


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And you say that you're not a size queen? :-P.
Thanks for pointing that out - all fixed


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Put a coin in the bottom
Errrrr... I think I need that one explained please.
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Originally Posted by Gianbattista View Post
"The collared and cuffed curly bird is a gregarious and engaging bird, most frequently seen in America, but has been spotted in Europe where it makes itself right at home, enchanting Europeans with its dance and whistle. Though an omnivore, it is fastidious about its cuisine, making some effort to eat favoured titbits over easily plentiful supplies of lesser foods. This bird is also known as the Frivol in some localities."
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Old 02-10-2016, 12:19 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Collar_N_Cuffs View Post
Errrrr... I think I need that one explained please.
I admit that I had to google this. It's a trick for real tamale queens, which I apparently am not ;-) From http://presleyspantry.com/2012/12/09...o-make-tamales :

Place enough water and a penny at the bottom of the pot, when you hear the penny bouncing that means the water level is low and time to replenish. Make note, the water level will go low.

Unfortunately your tamales are directly on the bottom of a closed clay pot, and in a closed oven. The site does suggest using a damp towel, which I hadn't considered.

How deep is the pot? Maybe you can put some kind of a small vent tray in the bottom so that you can add a little water below?

Another alternative is to steam your tamales, freeze them, and then reheat them in the pot. Kind of defeats the purpose, I know.

ETA1 : This book looks outstanding.

ETA2 : Tamale casserole in a clay pot.

It's amazing how much there is to learn when not googling porn sites.
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Last edited by pplwatching : 02-10-2016 at 12:29 AM.
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Old 02-10-2016, 01:10 AM   #9
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Ok, so I now have a perfectly sterilized penny for no reason

The coin thing is interesting, but there is no water in my Romertopf. It relies solely on the water that is soaked up by the clay before hand and subsequently released as steam. Also, you can't add water to the Romertopf at any point during cooking. As a matter of fact, when you remove it from the oven you have to put it on a wooden cutting board or a towel, as any sudden contract or temperature change can crack it. So, JanneE, I will use that trick when I have my usual steamer to hand.

I like the look of those tamales in the book illustration. Both ends tied! Cool! I also saw a banana leaf tamal in there... nom nom nom. The recipe looks good as well, but I don't know that the clay pot is adding anything there? It's glazed, so I imagine non-porous. Mine is unglazed, and the flavour of my particular baker both influences and is influenced each time I use it. If the things I cook in it didn't tasted so damned delicious I might not mess with it, but it just does something magical to food...
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Originally Posted by Gianbattista View Post
"The collared and cuffed curly bird is a gregarious and engaging bird, most frequently seen in America, but has been spotted in Europe where it makes itself right at home, enchanting Europeans with its dance and whistle. Though an omnivore, it is fastidious about its cuisine, making some effort to eat favoured titbits over easily plentiful supplies of lesser foods. This bird is also known as the Frivol in some localities."
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