Tonight was the night for my interactive Cinco de Mayo dinner party. With all of your encouragement, I did decide to make tamales. I had no encouragement from anywhere else - a guest called and suggested it would be best to buy pre-made masa dough because he talked to a friend of a friend who said it was really difficult to make tamales.
But even with that lack of confidence, we made tamales and they were fantastic! First time and I think they are the best I have ever tasted! What a high. I used the Maseca mix for masa. I roasted a chicken, a pork butt, made salsa verde, salsa roja. I improvised with a big pot for steaming. We also made chile rellenos, carnitas, red rice, black bean sauce, pico de gallo, sour cream with chipotle and I bought corn tortillas.
Thank you to gordeaux, Eat_Nopales, gsshark and so many more of you that I cannot remember names but I read all of your ideas. The best helpful hint was about beating the batter and the fat to make the mixture light. I just bought a Kitchenaid Pro 600 and it was ideal. I beat the masa mixture on low for about 5 minutes and then added the rendered pork fat ( which I beat until it resembled a soft meringue) carefully. I made it the day before. It was beautifully light. The only change I would make is to more highly spice the filling. The pork butt with salsa roja was fine but the roasted chicken with salsa verde was weak. I would use more salsa next time.
Now my imagination can run wild with fillings. I had no concept before making these.