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Tamale Recipe

Lets start making some tamales.  You will be using your hands a lot so get them nice and clean and lets get to work.  As I said before, making tamales is hard work and it is messy work.  Since it is just Mama and myself we make a small batch.  This recipe is for about 6-7 dozen.  Here is what you will need for that amount:

6-7 lbs pork roast (we use pork only, but you can also use pork and beef together)

1 pkg corn husks (ojas, husks)

1 lb lard

1 10-lb bag of unprepared masa (usually found in the meat department) 

Seasoning for the pork meat:

2 to 2-1/2 cups pork broth (left over from preparing the pork)

2 handfuls masa

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp chili powder

2 tbsp garlic

2 tsp salt

Seasoning for about 6 lbs masa:

2 tbsp salt

1 tbsp chili powder

3/4 lb lard

1-1/2 cup pork broth

Meat Preparation

Boil your pork meat for several hours until it is very tender--tender enough to pull apart with a fork. 

In order to get a good start in the morning, we cook our meat the night before.  When it is done we place it on a large cutting board and let it cool before chopping it finely.  We then cover it and place it in the refrigerator.  If you cook it the same day as making tamales you can prepare your corn husks and your masa as detailed below, while it cools.  Although the meat pulls apart easily you still want to chop it finely.  

Now add your chili powder, salt, garlic, two handfuls of masa and about half of the amount called for cooled pork broth.  Mix well, then add remaining broth and mix well again.  Since our meat is just out of the fridge, we warm it up a little after it is all mixed so we can get a good idea of the flavor.  Give it a taste.  That is the happy place of spices for us.  Feel free to adjust it you your taste buds.

Preparing the Corn Shucks

Start by cutting the tips of the corn husks and place them to soak in very hot water for about 30 minutes.  Separate them by hand after they have been in the water about 15 minutes to ensure they all soften up. 

Also, look for and remove any corn silk you see. When they are soft remove, rinse well keeping an eye out for any more stray corn silk, then let drain in a bowl.  Shucks are ready. 

Masa Preparation

Place the unprepared masa in a large bowl.  We used a foil roasting pan, as I don't have a pan that large (that isn't a hint for Christmas or anything.  Ok, it is). 

Add the salt, chili powder and lard.  Mix it in well.  Add the pork broth and mix in well. 

This is hard, messy work here.  It will be like a cardio workout, this kneading and mixing.  The masa should be nice and sticky.  

Yea!  You are ready to start making the tamales! 

Grab a corn shuck and a spoon. 

Tip #1:  Feel both sides of the husk, as there is a right side and a wrong side for tamale making purposes.  The masa goes on the smooth side.  The smooth side is also a little shiny.  The ridges of the shuck are much more prominent on the wrong side...the wrong side has a lot more texture.  Here is a little video I hope will help out a little.  Note:  After you see this video you will want to nominate us for some kind of video award, but please don't...the blog keeps us too busy to travel to California to accept.


Tip #2:  There is an ideal size for the corn husk, aka oja.  You want it to be just about the size of your palm, maybe a little larger.  This is ...

This is...

 This is...

Ok, now you have the right size shuck and the right side up.  It's time to spread the masa...yet another incredible video...


So, basically, spoon up your masa and spread it thinly on the shuck, leaving two to three inches of the shuck at the top for folding.  If you have a problem getting the masa to move around, dip your spoon in some water and that will help.  We normally put masa on a lot of shucks at one time and then put the meat in all at one time. 

When filling your tamale with meat, try to find the happy medium between too much and too little.  You want your tamale to have a good combination of all the flavors.  Last video.  I see you wiping that tear away...


Repeat those steps until you run out of masa or meat or hopefully, both at the same time. 

To cook the tamales, crumple up a piece of foil and open it back up and place it at the bottom of the pot.


Place some husks on top of the foil and stand the tamales open side up.

Ooo-wee, you are very close to having hot, delicious tamales on your table. 

Pour 3 cups of water over your tamales, place a clean cotton dish cloth on top and cover.

Cook on high until the water comes to a boil and then turn to low.  Total cook time should take between an hour to an hour and a half.  Pull out a tamale.  If the masa still looks mushy when you try to unroll the tamale more cooking time is required.  If the masa kind of sticks to the husk but looks done, let it cool a few minutes and try again.  It should pull off easily after that. 

Once they are done lay them out on a cookie sheet to cool and then wrap in foil by the dozen or place in plastic bags. 

Congratulations!  You are exhausted, but you have made tamales!  Enjoy! 

Moving Update

Tamale Recipe Pre-ramble, I Mean, Preamble