Homemade Tamales

October 27, 2012

Stephanie blogs at  The Leaky Sippy, about her life as a mom to 4 with one being just freshly baked. 🙂 I have known her online forever, I honestly can’t even remember how we met but now we’re Facebook friends and I keep waiting for the day she makes it to a conference so I can squeeze her. Enjoy her amazing homemade tamale recipe.

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Last weekend we made tamales. I’m sure you know, if you follow me on twitter, I was pretty excited about it! We all LOVE tamales here! The thing is, since they are pretty time consuming to make, we only do it a couple times a year and just double{or TRIPLE} the recipe. They freeze beautifully and make for quick meals on busy nights. Plus, like I said, I LOVE them! The key to the whole thing is to make it a ‘tamale party’! Invite friends or family to come help roll the tamales. It makes it way more fun & helps spread out the workload of rolling 100+ tamales.

And, if you’re really nice, send some home with the helpers! My husband is the nice one here.

for the meat filling

  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 1/4 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp freshly toasted & ground cumin seed
  • 2 lbs beef chuck roast, untrimmed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 dried New Mexico chile pepper (rehydrate in water)

for the wrappers

  • 4-5 dozen dried corn husks

for the cornmeal dough

  • 2 lbs yellow cornmeal, about 6 cups
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 cup lard
  • 3-4 cups reserved cooking liquid

In a small bowl, combine the chile powder, kosher salt, paprika, smoked paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper & cumin. Divide the mixture in half & reserve 1 half for later.

Cut the chuck roast into 6 even pieces & place in a 6-8 qt saucepan. Add half the spice mixture & enough water to completely cover the meat. Set over high heat, cover & bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low & simmer until the meat is tender & falling apart, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove the meat from the cooking liquid to a cutting board. leave the cooking liquid in the pot. both meat & liquid need to cool slightly before making the dough & handling.


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Remove any large pieces of fat & shred the meat into small pieces, pulling apart with your hands or using 2 forks.

Place a saucepan over medium heat & add the vegetable oil. once simmering, add the onion & cook, stirring occasionally until they are semi-translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, chopped pepper and the remaining half of the spice mixture & continue to cook for another minute. Add the meat & cook until heated through about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

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For the wrappers

While the meat is cooking, place the husks in a large bowl and submerge them in hot water. Soak the husks until they are soft & pliable. It takes at least 45 minutes.

For the dough

Place the cornmeal, salt & baking powder in a mixing bowl & combine. Add the lard & using your hands, knead together until the lard is well incorporated in to the dry mixture. gradually add enough of the reserved cooking liquid to create a dough that is thick like mashed potatoes. The dough should be moist but not wet. cover the bowl with a damp towel & set it aside.

To assemble the tamales

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Remove a corn husk from the water & pat dry.

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Spread about 2 tbsp of the dough in an even layer across the wide end of the husk to within 1/2 inch of the edges.

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Spoon about 1 tbsp of the meat in a line down the center of the dough.

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Roll the husk so the dough surrounds the meat, then fold the bottom under to finish creating the tamale.

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Repeat this until all the meat & dough is used.

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Then tie tamales around the center in groups of 5-6 with kitchen twine.

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To cook

Stand the tamales upright on the folded ends, tightly packed together in the same saucepan used to cook the meat. Add the reserved broth from making the dough & any additional water so the liquid comes to 1 in below the tops of the tamales.

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Try not to pour the broth directly into the tops of the tamales. Cover, place over high heat and bring to a boil. Remove the lid, reduce the heat to low, to maintain a low simmer & cook until the dough is firm & pulls away from the husks, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.


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ta-da!
To freeze

Leave the husk on and wrap tightly in plastic wrap & then foil.

It takes about 4 hours when all is said and done. but, so VERY worth it! Like I said, make it a party! This isn’t a difficult recipe, it’s just time consuming. And, once you get the hang of rolling the tamales, it’s pretty easy.


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This was our dessert. It’s papaya with a squeeze of lime on top. Let’s just say papaya is an acquired taste.
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Stephanie blogs about her life on The Leaky Sippy. You can find recipes, product reviews and everything in between. Catch her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

1 Comments

  • Katie

    October 27, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Tamales are my hands down favorite Mexican food. This is SO pinned!

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