Tamales

It’s another recipe from The Cousin! You remember her, right? The Cousin of Salsa Roja fame? Yeah, that girl. So you know it’ll be good. Let’s get to it!

Before you do anything, get a bunch of corn husks soaking in water.

You will need for the tamale sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons oregano
  • 4 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 oz. package dried Ancho chiles
  • 3 oz. package dried California chiles
  1. Bloom the oregano and cumin in olive oil: warm a bit of olive oil in a small skillet, and toss in the spices; stir till you just start to smell them, then remove from heat
  2. Put onions, garlic and chiles in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then let it rest
  3. When cooled off, run through a food processor, then warm back up
  4. When hot again, add 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt to taste

For the tamale masa:

  • 1 cup grease, Crisco, or pork fat (I had bacon grease in the fridge, of course)
  • 3 cups dried corn masa (such as Maseca)
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 cup tamale sauce (above)
  1. Beat grease in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl
  3. Add tamale sauce to dry ingredients
  4. Add a bit of water if it looks too dry — you want it to feel kind of like Playdoh
  5. Slowly add mixture to grease in stand mixer and mix until smooth; add more water or dry masa as necessary

To make your tamales:

  1. Remove husks from water and pat dry (don’t have to completely dry, just make them a little easier to handle)
  2. Spread masa on smooth side of husks
  3. Put filling in the middle of the masa; roll the husk tightly, then fold up the end (see video here — not mine — for a very quick demonstration)
  4. Stand them upright, open side up, in a tamale or vegetable steamer for 90 minutes. Fantastic hint from The Cousin: put pennies in the bottom of your pot under the steamer; if they start clanging around you’ll know you need to add more water

After they’re finished cooking, discard husks and serve with your tamale sauce. SO YUMMY, and great comfort food for the cold weather upon us. Enjoy!

5 comments to Tamales

  • Oh, this is great!! I’ve been wanting to make tamales on my own (singular for “tamales” is “tamal”, not “tamale”) since…forever, but I don’t have a vegetable steamer. I was just asking my mom to get me one today, and she forgot to get it. Then I see this post just to tease me more haha. Your tamales look fantastic.
    Ha! Sounds like you need a steamer pronto. So if tamal is singular would it be “tamal sauce” or…? ~OPK

  • I LOVE tamales. These look great!

  • Yeah it would be “tamal sauce”. I just made tamales too! My mom bought me a steamer for Christmas.

  • Melissa

    I am from south Texas and I was wondering what you use for the filling in your tamales. My family loves tamales and your recipe sounds a lot simpler than mine since I spend about 2 days making them. About how many tamales does this recipe make?

  • Hi Melissa: we slow-roasted and shredded some pork for the filling on these, I believe, and added in some of the sauce before using it for filling. I want to say these made a couple dozen? I’ll see if The Cousin can chime in and let us know for sure.

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