This is a rather late weekend update, but I just couldn't get these photos processed in a timely manner. So, in the spirit of better late than never, here is a glimpse of last weekend's time consuming cooking project-- red molé pork tamales in banana leaves. As I've mentioned, my mom just came back from Oaxaca City. She usually carries pre-made packages of molé with her, which we hoard for special occasions in our freezer, because nothing can match molé from the source. Unfortunately this year her molé was taken from her at the airport (she didn't check her bag, grr), because the security personnel considered it a liquid/cream. Another guard argued with the first, but alas, the molé was seized. So, back in the states with no molé we ventured out to our local Mexican giant super-market, Pro's Ranch Market. They sell green and red molé in cubes at one of their deli counters. Below is their red molé. It was definitely different than the black molé that Mom would have brought us from Oaxaca, but it turned out to be delicious.
I talked about how I prepare the sauce before cooking the meat in it, here in a comment response to Maggie. After sautéing the onions I definitely mixed the paste into the dry pan and let it cook for a few minutes to darken it up, stirring constantly, before adding broth. In this case I was using thick cut pork chops as the meat, and I had browned them in the pan and then put them aside and used their fat to make the sauce. Adding the browned meat back in, it simmered on the stove top for an hour or so, until the meat was tender enough that it would shred like I wanted it to.
I used this cazuela that my mom had bought on a previous trip to Mexico. Its a very light weight pottery, but it cooked everything beautifully. I hadn't used it before, but I liked it. I'll definitely use it more often.
Molé tamales often have a banana leaf wrapper instead of corn husk. The banana leaf adds a different flavor to the tamale that goes well with the rich sauce. We bought ours at Pro's Market. As you can see, banana leaves are huge! They tear really easily though along those ribs, so its easy to get the small size that you need to wrap the tamales. They smelled so fresh, like green bananas, I wish the internet could capture smell.
The leaf has to be heated over a flame or steamed to soften it so that its flexible enough to wrap the tamale.
We used a pre-made masa, the corn dough, bought at Pro's Market.
And the best part, they taste divine! We made about two dozen, ate a few, and then froze them in packages of four tamales, to enjoy on weekends over the next couple months along with some champurrado.