Yes, this recipe actually calls for lard, which is the traditional fat used in Mexican cooking. You may use butter if you wish, but the flavor will not be as authentic. Likewise, although it calls for banana leaves, if you can’t find them at Latin or Asian markets, you may use the traditional corn husks.
- Fresh sweet corn - 2 ears (1 1/2 cup corn kernels)
- Masa - 2 cups
- Unsalted Butter - 4 tablespoons
- Lard - 1/2 cup
- Salt - 1 1/2 teaspoons
- Baking Powder - 1 tablespoon
- Sugar - 1/4 cup
- Bana Leaves - Four 9-inch-by-10-inch (alt. corn husks)
- Sour Cream - 1 cup
- Cilantro - 4 sprigs, fresh
To make the tamales: Pull off the corn husks and silk; if the husks do not come off easily, cut the bottom off the cob and pull the husks off that way. Stand the corn vertically and cut off the kernels with a sharp knife. Mix the masa and corn, then mix in the butter, lard, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Pulse for about 1 minute in a food processor, or beat in a mixer, or blend by hand, until it is fluffy and resembles a cake batter.
Lay the banana leaves on a work surface. Put about 1/2 cup of the dough in the center of each leaf and spread it into a 3-inch circle. Fold the left and right sides of each leaf over the filling. Fold the top and bottom sides over the center, making a packet. (If using corn husks, because they are smaller, you will need to use more husks and a smaller amount of filling for each.) Stack in a vegetable steamer over a pan of boiling water and steam until the mixture is cooked through, about 45 minutes, replenishing water as needed. Let stand for 10 minutes.
To serve: Place a packet on each plate and cut it open, folding back the leaf to reveal the filling. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of cilantro. The banana leaf wrapper is not intended to be eaten.