Tamales – A Mexican Christmas Tradition

January 10, 2013 1 comment
Linda with Tamales

Linda with Tamales


By Linda Sierra

I’m happy to report the tamales were a hit yet again this year.  We made more than 6 dozen and it is done in a sort of assembly line where one puts the masa on the cornhusk, the next puts the meat and olives and the next folds them up.  This is a blast.

This recipe has been in my family since I was a child.  My  mother has been using it since I was about 5 years old.  So it is at least 40 years old.

Feliz año nuevo!






Folded TamalesSteaming Tamales


3 lbs – 1 inch chunks beef stew meat
2 cans – 28 oz. enchilada sauce (Las Palmas “mild”)*
2 lbs – 1 inch chunks pork stew meat
2 Tbs – Oregano
4 – Cloves garlic minced
60 – Dried cornhusks (~1 pound)
8 cups – Instant Masa (Maseca brand)
2/3 cup – Vegetable oil
2 2/3 cups – Shortening (Crisco) or lard (I use Crisco)
2 – Medium onions chopped
2 Tbs – Baking powder
2/3 cup – Flour
60 – Black pitted olives cut in half

• In large pot put beef, pork and garlic with enough water to cover. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1.25 hours until meat is tender and stirring occasionally.
• Soak cornhusks in warm water for about an hour, they will become soft. Drain, keeping them damp on paper towels.
• In large skillet over medium heat cook onion until tender in hot vegetable oil. Stir in flour until blended. Add enchilada sauce, oregano and 2 teaspoons of salt. Drain meat, reserving the liquid. Add meat to the sauce and cook for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally with a fork to shred the meat. The sauce will be very thick.
• Beat at low speed with hand mixer instant masa, 5 1/3 cups reserved meat liquid, shortening, baking powder and 4 teaspoons salt.
• Assembly: place cornhusks tip away from you. Use a small spatula or large spoon and spread 2 Tbs of masa onto center or cornhusk in a rectangle about 5” x 4”. You can paste two corn husks together with a little masa if they are too small. Put 2 Tbs of meat on the center of the masa, place 2 olive halves on top of the meat mixture.
• Wrapping: Lift up right side and fold 1/3 of cornhusk over filling, fold the left side over the last. Fold the tip of the cornhusk backwards, about 1/3 of the way down. Tamale will be open on one end. Place the folded tamale with the folded side down so it won’t open.
• Steaming: In a large pot with a vegetable steamer add an inch of water. Place tamales with the open end up, folded side down, standing up in the pot, over medium-high heat, heat water to boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Be sure to add water if it is evaporated to keep the moisture right for proper steaming.
• Test for doneness: Remove and unwrap 1 tamale. If the dough is firm and does not stick to the husk they are done.
• Yield: 5 dozen. You can cut the recipe in half. I usually double it.
• You can find most of these items in the Hispanic Food section of most grocery stores. Northgate Gonzales has everything you’ll need if you have trouble finding everything.
• *You can also make your own enchilada sauce but run the risk of making the sauce too spicy. I can help you if you want to make it from scratch. That is why I recommend the “mild” Las Palmas enchilada sauce because the flavor is rich and not hot. Be sure it says “mild” on the label or it will be very hot.


One Response to “Tamales – A Mexican Christmas Tradition”

  1. Thanks Linda! I saved in my “recipe book”.


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