It’s a Christmas Eve thing but we waited until New Years Day to make a homemade tamale feast. It was a perfect way to start of the year, a long, slightly laborious process followed by great fun with great friends. Lesson: hard work can pay off :)! I’m not really going to tell you how to make tamales since this was my first time and the internet really has that covered (though I do think using good leaf lard and whipping the heck out of the dough until it floated in cold water really did result in really fluffy tamales). Instead I’m going to talk about fillings. I went with refried beans with queso fresco. There are really just three tips here, use lard in your beans (a little goes a long way), cook the onion until it’s practically melted away (but not browned) before you add your beans to the pot, and cook the beans for hours and hours so they become creamy – leave that potato masher in the drawer, time should do the work for you. The rest of the tamales were filled with carnitas. I have a pretty much fool-proof recipe, you can pretty much make it with about a million variations. Pull out your slow cooker, add a bone in, salted pork shoulder, cover it with liquid (broth, beer, water or a combination of the three). Squeeze in some limes, add some dried peppers, cilantro, white onions, garlic, cumin, green onions, bay leaf, oregano (or again, whatever combination of that stuff you have lying around). cook overnight on low until the pork pulls very easily. Pull it and stuff some tamales full of it. Tomorrow fry the leftovers in a pan until some parts are crunchy and serve carnitas tacos for dinner.