Mexican Tamales

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Tamales, Mexican
Authentic Mexican tamale recipe
Course Breakfast, dinner
Cuisine Mexican
Course Breakfast, dinner
Cuisine Mexican
  1. Place the roast in a large pan and cover it with water. Slice half a large onion and add it to the water, along with the bay leaves. Bring to a boil and simmer til the meat is very tender. Drain and reserve liquid.
  2. Stem and seed the peppers. Place in bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit until soft, about 15 minutes.
  3. Drain peppers and reserve the liquid. Put peppers in blender. Rough-chop the other half of the onion and add to blender. Add garlic cloves. Blend, adding salt to taste and part of the reserved liquid and/or meat stock by tablespoons in turns until the chili sauce is the consistency of thick tomato sauce. Set aside.
  4. Mix shortening or lard with masa harina and baking powder until light and airy. Add 2 cups of the reserved pepper liquid and/or meat stock. Knead until it forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add about 5 or so tablespoons of the chili pepper sauce to the masa mix in a food processor until the consistency is about like that of tomato paste and has a beautiful orangey-red color.
  6. Shred the cooked meat and put it in a skillet. Chop half the second onion and add to skillet, along with the chili sauce. Simmer about 10 or 15 minutes to marry the flavors and reduce to a thick consistency.
  7. Slice potatoes or carrots into 1/4-inch thick sticks. These will go inside the tamales.
  8. Soak dried corn husks in hot water in a flat pan held down with a plate or pot lid until they are soft and pliable.
  9. Assemble the tamales: spread a couple of tablespoons of the masa mix on a soaked corn husk. If the masa mixture is the right consistency, it will not stick to the corn husk. Another test is to drop a little ball of it into a cup of water. If it floats, it's the right consistency.
  10. Spoon on about 2 or 3 tablespoons of the meat mixture. Place an olive and a potato or carrot stick on top.
  11. Fold the corn husk over the filling. It's good if there is masa on the edge because it helps the tamale stay folded. Fold the narrow end of the tamale over the rest of it to make a neat pocket. Continue assembling the tamales until the filling is used up.
  12. Put a couple of inches of water in the bottom of a large pot and put a steamer rack over the water. Stand the tamales upright on the folded end on the rack. There should be enough tamales to fill the pot but not so many that they are packed tightly because they expand when they cook.
  13. Cover the pot with foil and the pot lid. You could also use the extra corn husks to cover them.
  14. Bring to a simmer and steam about 30 - 45 minutes. Masa should be the consistency of firm polenta and the potato/carrot sticks should be cooked and tender.
Recipe Notes

Cooking the meat, making the chili sauce, and even cooking the meat with the chili sauce can be done a day or so in advance.

Do not mix the dough until just before you fill the tamales.

If you want to get fancy, tie off the folded tamales with narrow strings pulled from the corn husks.

Leftover tamales are even better the next day, fried up in a skillet with some eggs for breakfast.

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