Homemade Tamale Recipes

Homemade Tamale Recipes
Looking for some unusual, delicious recipes? Why don't you try making tamales? Here are some easy-to-make tamale recipes for you.
Tastessence Staff
Last Updated: Apr 12, 2018
If you are wondering what a tamale is, it is a popular Mexican food which has its roots in the indigenous Latin-American culture. It is made with masa dough and different kinds of fillings with meat, chicken, vegetables, or even fruits and sweets that will satisfy your taste buds. Once your filling is cooked, you can wrap it up in an interesting variety of wrappers like fresh/dried corn husks or banana leaves and plantain leaves. The wrapper is folded and tied with a kitchen string or thin strips of corn husk. Tying the tamale helps keep it folded during cooking. The wrapped filling or tamale is then steam cooked, until it becomes firm. Steaming hot, delicious tamales are just perfect for parties and celebrations of every kind.

Tamales have a long history. Originating as early as 8000 BC in Mexico, the Aztecs served tamales to their Spanish guests during their first visit to Mexico. Tamales were savored by many Mexican tribes even earlier than that, which led to its importance in religious rituals. Regional diversities lead to variants in the cooking style of this dish and naming it differently too. To list a few - humitas in South America, conkies in West Indies, zongzi in China, ada/bhapa ilish or paaturi in India; tamale is enjoyed across continents in various versions. In this article, we have given you the most popular tamale recipes that you can cook up at home.
Suggestions
Before Preparation: Before starting with the making of the tamales, soak the corn husks in warm water, then go ahead with the other preparations. Keep checking in between and remove from water when the husks become soft.
When the filling is ready: Prepare the wrappings for the tamales.
  • Cut 3-4 corn husks into thin, long strips. Place one strip on your working surface, smooth side down.
  • Spread ⅓ cup of the filling at the center of the strip.
  • Fold the bottom edge of the strip (that is on your side) over the filling and roll it up to the other edge of the strip.
  • Now tie each end of the tamale with the remaining strips. Repeat this procedure for the wrapping with more such strips until the filling is over.
The basics of tamale-making remain the same, no matter which variety you are trying your hand at. One can summarize the entire process in 6 steps. Let us first check these out and then move on to tamale recipes.
Banana leaves
Cooked banana leaves
Making tamale stuffing
Tamale stew
Tamale rice
Banana leaves stuffed
Cooked tamale
1. Select wrapper, soak as per the suggestions given above.

2. Prepare the filling with the stipulated ingredients.

3. Mix the filling ingredients with vegetable stock or chicken broth and cook until you get the desired consistency.

4. Your filling will then be ready to be wrapped and steamed.

5. Wrap the filling in the wrappers. The wrapped items should resemble the tamales shown in the picture.

6. Finally, steam the tamale.
Traditional Tamales
Time Required: 6 hours, Servings: 50, Calories: approximately 153.2 per serving

Ingredients:

• Pork shoulder/butt (fat removed and pork cut into pieces) - 56 ounces
• Water - 10 cups
• Masa harina - 6 cups
• Red chili sauce - 4 cups
• Shortening - ¾ cup
• Salt - 3½ teaspoons
• Baking powder - 1½ teaspoons
• Garlic cloves (quartered) - 3
• Onion (medium, thinly sliced) - 1
• Corn husks (dried) - 50

Method:

♨ Boil the pork, water, onion, garlic, and 1½ teaspoons salt in a 5-quart Dutch oven.
♨ Now cover it and simmer for about 2½ hours or until the meat becomes tender.
♨ Remove from the oven from the heat source and separate the meat and the broth. Allow the broth to cool down as that will help you remove the fat).
♨ Cut the meat into pieces while removing the fat, using a fork.
♨ Once the broth cools, strain it and keep 6 cups of broth aside.
♨ Heat the red chili sauce in a pan and add the meat pieces to it. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes.
♨ Beat the shortening in a large bowl for one minute at medium speed.
♨ Mix masa harina, baking powder, and the remaining salt in another bowl and stir well.
♨ Keep adding the masa harina mixture and broth (just enough to make a creamy mixture) to the shortening alternately and beat well each time you add either of them.
♨ Now follow the "When the filling is ready" section given above for the wrapping.
♨ Place extra husks or a foil at the base of the steamer basket in the Dutch oven and place the tamales on it.
♨ Add about an inch of water at the bottom of the oven, below the basket. Bring it to boil and lower the heat.
♨ Now cover the basket and steam it for about 40 minutes, adding water regularly to maintain the depth. Tamales will be ready when the filling becomes firm.
Sweet Potato Tamales
Time Required: 1 hour 45 minutes, Servings: 15, Calories: approximately 132 per serving

Ingredients:

• Sweet potatoes (scrubbed and cut into pieces of similar length) - 1½ pound
• Dehydrated masa flour - 1¼ cups
• Chicken broth (fat-skimmed) - 1 cup
• Butter (at room temperature) - ¼ cup
• Lard - ¼ cup
• Brown sugar - 2 tablespoons
• Baking powder - 1 tablespoon
• Cinnamon (ground) - 1 tablespoon
• Canned chipotle chiles (drained and minced) - 2
• Salt and freshly ground pepper - according to taste
• Corn husks (dried) - 20

Method:

Mix butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a bowl and keep aside.
Cut sweet potatoes into halves and rub the butter mixture to the cut sides equally.
Set this in a baking dish and bake it in an oven until soft, at 350° for about an hour.
Once you remove the sweet potatoes from the oven, let them cool and then peel off the skin. Mash them with a fork. Keep aside.
Melt the lard in a pan over low heat. Pour the chicken broth once the lard melts, and stir until warm.
Add the broth mixture to the mashed sweet potatoes and mix well.
To this mixture, add little masa flour at a time and keep stirring until it blends well. Add baking powder and chipotle chiles while stirring, and season it with salt and pepper.
Now follow the "When the filling is ready" section given above for the wrapping.
Place the tamales on a rack of a 10-quart pan. Pour an inch of water at the bottom of the pan, and place the rack about 1 inch over the water surface, and bring to boil over high heat.
Now lower the heat and close the pan. Steam the tamales for about an hour or until the filling becomes firm. (You can check this by inserting a knife in the tamale. If the knife comes out clean, your tamales are ready). You may need to add water in the pan regularly to maintain at least 1 inch of depth throughout the steaming process.
Now remove the tamales and keep aside for at least 10 minutes before serving. You can eat them directly or with ketchup.
Beef Tamales
Time Required: 5 hours 30 minutes, Servings: 36, Calories: approximately 70 per serving

Ingredients:

• New Mexico chiles (dried, tops cut off and seeds jerked out) - 4 ounces
• Ancho chiles (tops cut off and seeds jerked out) - 2 ounces
• Pasilla chiles (tops cut off and seeds jerked out) - 2 ounces
• Beef shoulder roast - 2 pounds
• Beef broth (warm) - 4 cups
• Masa mix - 4 cups
• Vegetable shortening - 1 cup
• Cumin seeds (toasted) - 2 tablespoons
• Salt, 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons + to taste
• Baking powder - 1 tablespoon
• Onions (peeled, thinly sliced) - 2
• Garlic bulb (cloves separated and peeled) - 1
• Pepper, to taste
• Corn husks (dried, silk removed) - 36

Method:

♨ Rub salt and pepper (to taste) on the beef shoulder thoroughly.
♨ Place the seasoned shoulder in a Crock Pot. Let the meat become brown on all sides over medium heat.
♨ Once the meat is evenly brown, pour in enough water to submerge the entire chunk, along with one onion and six garlic cloves.
♨ Let the meat cook for a solid 2 hours and after that, pierce it with a fork to check if it is tender enough. If it is not fork-cooked enough, cook for some more time.
♨ If it is cooked, take the meat out of the Crock Pot and place it on a plate to cool. Shred the meat manually, once cool. Reserve 4 cups of the broth to use later.
♨ Next, place all the chiles in a pan, pour enough water to submerge the chiles, throw in the remaining garlic cloves, onion, and the cumin seeds, and boil for a good 20 minutes.
♨ Once the chiles soften, blend them in a mixer. You must also add 10 tablespoons of the water they were boiled in when blending them.
♨ Next, run the chile paste through a sieve once.
♨ Add two teaspoons of salt to the chile paste and then mix it well with the shredded beef. Refrigerate after the mixing it through.
♨ Now, commingle a tablespoon of salt, the masa mix, the baking powder, and the previously reserved broth. Remember, the broth should be warm and added gradually.
♨ Whisk the veggie shortening in a bowl until fluffy in texture and then add it to the masa mixture. Continue beating the concoction until you achieve a spongy texture.
♨ Dip a tablespoon in water, use it to evenly spread a thin layer of the masa mixture on one corn husk.
♨ Place a tablespoon of the beef filling on the masa layer.
♨ Now follow the "When the filling is ready" section given above for the wrapping. Repeat until you have 36 to 38 wrapped tamales.
♨ Place the tamales in a steamer.
♨ Pour about 2 inches of water at the bottom of the pan, and place the rack about 1 inch over the water surface.
♨ Cover the tamales with a wet towel, place the lid on the steamer, and cook for about 2 hours.
♨ Bring the water to a medium boil, adding water regularly to maintain the depth.
♨ Tamales are ready when the filling starts separating easily from the corn husk and the filling becomes firm.
Fish Tamales (Tamales de Pescado)
Time Required: 45 minutes, Servings: 4, Calories: approximately 360 per serving

Ingredients:

• Red snapper or flounder fillets (¼ pound each) - 4
• Olive oil - 1 cups
• Garlic (chopped) - 2 tablespoons
• Fresh coriander sauce
• Salt - to taste
• White pepper (freshly ground) - to taste
• Corn husks (large, unbroken) - 8

Method:

♨ In a mixer, blend the garlic and the olive oil. Let this stand unperturbed for 8 hours.
♨ Now, place each filet on two overlapping husks.
♨ On the filets, spoon the oil and garlic mixture (about 1 tablespoon on each filet) along with the salt and pepper.
♨ Now follow the "When the filling is ready" section given above for the wrapping.
♨ Once wrapped, heat a gas or charcoal grill and cook the tamales for 4 minutes on each side.
♨ Serve open tamales with heated fresh coriander sauce.
Chicken Tamales
Homemade Corn And Chicken Tamales
Time Required: 1 hour 10 minutes, Servings: 25, Calories: approximately 344.5 per serving

Ingredients:

• Green tomatillo sauce - 15 ounces
• Maseca corn masa harina flour - 6 cups
• Chicken broth - 6 cups
• Corn/vegetable oil - 1 cup
• Salt - 2 teaspoons
• Baking powder - 1 teaspoon
• Rotisserie chicken - 2 (large)
• Corn husks - 1 bag

Method:

♨ Blend the flour, oil, salt, baking powder, and chicken broth in an electric mixer to make a consistent mixture.
♨ Cut the chicken into small pieces and marinate it with the green tomatillo sauce. The flour mixture and marinated chicken form the filling for your tamale.
♨ Now follow the "When the filling is ready" section given above for the wrapping.
♨ Place the tamales in a steamer and cook for about 35-40 minutes. Keep checking after every 15 minutes. Tamales are ready when the filling starts separating easily from the corn husk.

Note: You can substitute green tomatillo sauce with ½ kg of under-ripe tomatoes cut into small pieces, ground to a paste, and lemon juice squeezed into it to give it the tarty taste as tomatillo sauce.
Vegetable Tamales
Time Required: 45 minutes, Servings: 20, Calories: approximately 163 per serving

Ingredients:

• Masa harina - 2 cups
• Vegetable stock - ¾ cup
• Vegetable shortening - ½ cup
• Water - ¼ cup
• Baking powder - 1 teaspoon
• Salt - ½ teaspoon

Method:

♨ Whisk the vegetable shortening with an electric mixer in a bowl until it becomes fluffy.
♨ Mix the vegetable stock in water and beat it with a wooden spoon for consistency.
♨ Mix masa harina and salt in a small bowl and add this to the shortening mixture.
♨ Now beat this mixture with the electric mixer while adding the stock mixture gradually to make a firm dough.
♨ Add baking powder and mix well. The dough/filling is ready to be wrapped.
♨ Now follow the "When the filling is ready" section given above for the wrapping.
♨ Place the tamales in a steamer and cook for about 30 minutes.
♨ Remove them and let them cool for about 10 minutes. Your tamales are ready to be served.
Sweet Tamales
Time Required: 1 hour 45 minutes, Servings: 24, Calories: approximately 244.9 per serving

Ingredients:

• Sweetened condensed milk - 1 can (14 ounces)
• Masa harina flour - 2½ cups
• Yellow cornmeal - 1½ cups
• Water - 1½ cups
• Lard - 1 cup
• Raisins - 1 cup
• Walnuts (chopped) - ½ cup
• Granulated sugar - ¼ cup
• Cinnamon (ground) - 1 tablespoon
• Salt - 2 teaspoons
• Vanilla extract - 2 teaspoons
• Corn husks (dried) - 1 packet (8 ounces)

Method:

♨ Take ⅔ cup lard in a bowl and beat it until it becomes creamy.
♨ Mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in another bowl.
♨ Add this flour mixture to the lard along with water and sweetened condensed milk, one by one. Mix these well.
♨ Melt the remaining lard in a pan and add the masa mixture to it slowly. Stir the mixture continuously, until the batter/filling attains a thick consistency.
♨ Add vanilla, raisins, and walnuts to this mixture and stir well.
♨ Now follow the "When the filling is ready" section given above for the wrapping.
♨ Arrange each tamale on a steamer rack and place the rack in a steamer that is filled with just 1 inch of water at the bottom.
♨ Bring to boil and then lower the heat.
♨ Close the steamer and steam the tamales for about 1½ hours, regularly adding water to the steamer to maintain an inch of it at the bottom.
♨ Keep checking the firmness of the tamales every 20 minutes. It will be ready once the filling starts pulling away from the husks.
Things to Keep in Mind
♨ The corn husks should be approximately 8 inches long and 6 inches wide at one end. If the husks are smaller, place one husk over the other and spread the filling at the center where the husks overlap.
♨ You can use a variety of wrappings in similar sizes, like fresh corn leaves, avocado leaves, or banana leaves.
♨ The best places to find green tomatillo sauce are Latin-American stores, specialty stores, or supermarkets.
♨ To eat the tamale, you can peel the wrapping a little at a time and eat it like a veg puff. Or, peel off the wrapping completely and eat the filling/masa with a fork and knife, spoon, or by hand.
♨ Once the tamales are ready, serve them after letting them cool for about 10 minutes. These can be eaten as snacks or served as the main course.
♨ You can freeze the tamales for future meals by keeping the wrapped tamales in freezer bags. When you wish to eat them, re-heat by thawing, wrapping in wet paper towel, and heating them in a microwave for about 2 minutes. Or, you can re-steam them until hot.
♨ You can serve tamale with wine, sauce, or any soft drink you like.
Preparing tamales can be time-consuming and requires attention at various stages. Nonetheless, you can enjoy your time in the kitchen when you know that the result is going to be yummy!