Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Tamale Time!

I don't know why, but I've been wanting to make tamales for a long time. While I love Mexican food, I don't believe I've ever had authentic tamales. I remember my mom telling the story of when I was a baby, she went to her ceramics class and left me with my dad to figure out dinner. He fed me canned tamales, so I guess I've eaten some sort of tamale! It's no wonder I have such an odd palate.

A couple of weeks ago, I made a tamale pie, which was basically slow cooked, Mexican-flavored, shredded pork with a baked cornbread topping. It was pretty good, but no tamale.

So after I finally found corn husks and masa, I was ready to go.

Firstly, the chili sauce. I used this recipe but went all lazy Rambo and didn't remove the seeds. There were three different types of dried peppers in my pantry: ancho, arbol, and one I can't identify. My cousin gave them to me. Once the oven roasted peppers soaked, I used my blender to break them down. The resulting sauce is hot! Might remove those seeds next time, or figure out which pepper was the hot one and leave it out. ;)

The pork is just simmered with veggies and spices until it's tender enough to shred. I strained the broth and saved it. The recipe I used is this one and there's a fun Tamale Making 101 class as well.
Doesn't the broth look like blood in my jack-o-lantern bowl? I used some of the chili sauce in the braising liquid for the pork and it turned the broth red. When the pork was tender, I shredded it and added some of the chili sauce. Time to soak the corn husks and make the masa.

The masa is mixed with the braising broth, smeared on a corn husk and then you can add whatever filling you like. I saw one lady using beans and cheese, which sounds delicious.

Here are all the bundles tied up and ready to steam. My steamer is small, so I had to steam them in batches. I was able to sample them before dinner just in case they were awful. They were okay, but kind of a lot of work. I'd definitely prefer the bean and cheese filling next time. The masa part was delicious. That was the part I didn't think I'd care for.

I served the tamales with more of the chili sauce, salsa, cheddar cheese and sour cream. Next time I serve them, I'll make a red enchilada sauce to pour on them. My side dish was a Mexican vegetable soup, just in case the tamales were a bust. There were enough tamales leftover to freeze for a second meal. I cut the recipe in half by the way. It must make tons of them. Making tamales is now out of my system. Now I need to figure out what to do with all those leftover corn husks...

Corn husk dolls borrowed from the Glitter Gone Bad blog.
I don't think so.


  1. sounds yummy but waaaay too much work. the masa is always the part of the tamale that I don't like. Then again, I've never had a tamale that I LOVED. love the jack o' bowl!!!

  2. they look so good! So was it worth all the work? I've often thought about making them but it looks like such a process!

  3. I'm from Panama, and they make the real tamales all the time. I've never wanted one though, and I still don't. Glad you were able to get it out of your system though.
    There are a lot of Panamanian dishes I love. Maybe I can send you a few recipes and you'll make them for me? LOL
    Wish I liked to cook.


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