Great for the holidays!
Friends, I’m not even sure were to begin talking to you about these delicious Mexican Tamales. Why? Because there is so much to say about them! Mexican Tamales is one of those foods that many of us love but are probably too afraid and hesitant to make because the idea of undertaking something that seems so complicated to make scares us off. But no worries my friends, I’m here to tell you that they are not! Prior to me ever making tamales, I felt the same way! I promise you, you will not feel that way after you make them especially after your first time! You will be surprised to see how easy they really are and wonder how could you have waited all this time to acquire the nerve to make these.
But before we get into all that, let’s talk a little bit about these delicious babies.
- Mexican Tamales originated from Mesoamerica which stretches from southern Mexico to Guatemala.
- Tamales trace back to the Aztecs and the Mayan people as far back as 5000 BC.
- They are made from masa which is a cornmeal flour and are wrapped in corn husks or plantain leaves and steamed, baked or boiled. They are commonly served with either a red or green chile sauce (salsa verde).
- Mexican tamales can be filled with chicken, pork, beef and seafood. There are also sweet tamales or “tamales dulces” which may or may not have food coloring to give them that look of “sweetness.” (Here is a recipe from Muy Bueno Cookbook on Sweet Raisin Tamales.)
- Sweet tamales may have raisins, cinnamon, pineapple, coconut, prunes, jams, dulce de leche, guava, etc.
Mexican tamales have always been a comfort food for Mexico as well as a food of celebration. Very commonly served for Christmas, New Year’s and Day of the Dead. However, they are also a very common family affair for regular celebrations.
A step by step guide to making Mexican Tamales and recipe follows…
Carefully separate corn husks and soak in water for at least 40 minutes. I soaked mine in my kitchen sink.
In a saucepan heat chiles with onion and garlic with water for 15 minutes or until soft.
Once softened, remove stems and seeds.
After placing chiles, onion and garlic in blender, strain skin and any leftover seeds through strainer to extract sauce.
After beef has been cooked, shred into smaller pieces.
After chile sauce has been added to beef.
For masa I use Maseca brand, instant corn masa mix. You can find Maseca corn flour in most local supermarkets in the international aisle.
Your masa should look light and fluffy.
Spread masa on corn husk. Place masa towards the left and leaving about 3 to 4 inches masa free from the bottom.
Add beef mixture to center of masa. Optional: add olives cut in half.
Fold one side of corn husk over and then fold other side over to cover.
After both sides are folded, fold bottom up and tie with strip of corn husk.
Strip a small piece of corn husk and wrap bottom fold.
Here is an alternative if you do not have a steamer to steam your tamales. Use a big pot and place a smaller pot within it. Add tamales to smaller pot and add water to bigger pot. The point here is to have tamales not touch water, just like a steamer would do. Cook for 1 hour.
Once done unwrap tamale, add sauce and enjoy!
If you cannot find corn husks or dried chilis in the international aisle of your local supermarket, you can also purchase them through Amazon.
|Meal type||Appetizer, Lunch, Main Dish|
|Misc||Child Friendly, Freezable, Serve Hot|
- corn husks (about 16)
- sliced olives
- 2 to 3 Pounds beef chuck or beef roast (cut into 2 inch cubes)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 onion (quartered)
- salt/pepper (to taste)
- 2 1/2 Cups masa mix (I used Maseca Brand `)
- 1 cup vegetable shortening (or lard)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 1/2 Cups beef broth (reserved from cooked beef)
- 7 dry guajillo peppers
- 3 dry ancho chile peppers
- 4 dry arbol chile
- 1 onion (peeled and cut into quarters)
- 6 garlic (peeled)
- salt (to taste)
- broth from peppers
|Cut beef into cubes and season with salt and pepper. In a pot over medium heat add enough water to cover beef. Add quartered onion and 4 garlic cloves. Cook for about 2 hours until beef is fork tender. Remove beef and reserve beef broth. Shred beef. Set aside.|
|Add dried peppers, quartered onion and 6 garlic cloves to a pot. Cover with water and cook for about 15 minutes to soften peppers. Remove peppers from pot and reserve broth the peppers were cook in. Remove stems and seeds.|
|Add all peppers, onion and garlic to a blender with about a cup of pepper broth. Blend until smooth. Strain skin and leftover seeds to a bowl. (Look at picture in step by step guide) Add salt to taste. When beef is done and shredded, add half the sauce to beef and mix together. Set aside.|
|Separate about 16 husks being careful not to break apart since they are fragile when dried. Add corn husks to water for about 40 minutes to soften a little. (I put mine in the sink to soak)|
|Add masa to a bowl and add baking powder and salt. Slowly add beef broth and mix together with your hand. Add lard to masa mix and beat with a hand mixer until it's a fluffly texture.|
|Rinse and dry corn husks. Set aside on tray with a damp cloth. Place on plate or place in your hand with narrow end facing you. |
Place a thin layer of masa on husk and leave about 3 or 4 inches masa free from narrow end. Refer to pictures.
Add meat to center and add sliced olives if you like. Fold one side over and then the other side.
Fold narrow end up and tie with a thin strip of husk as shown in picture. Note one side will remain exposed.
Repeat until done with all the tamales.
|Place tamales in a steamer standing up with the exposed side up. Add about 2 inches of water to pot. Cover with a lid. Cook for one hour over medium low heat. |
Tamales are done when masa separates some from husk a little.
|To serve open tamales onto a plate and serve with the red sauce, salsa verde or any good hot sauce.|
|Note: If you do not have a steamer just take a smaller pot into a bigger pot and place tamales in the smaller pot standing up. Add the water to the bigger pot and cover with lid and cook the same way as with a steamer. Remember to check water periodically to make sure water has not evaporated.|
So when are you going to make some Mexican Tamales?