How To: Tamales

Friday, February 27, 2015


Tamales: A tamal is a traditional Mesoamerican dish made of masa or dough, which is steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf. The wrapping is discarded before eating.

As I mentioned on the mom post, we made tamales for Legacy. I'm not exactly posting the recipe, more of just saying how we went about it. In a very simplified way, since I don't know Rachel Ray lingo. The kind of tamales we made we call tamales de picadillo. Our's are made of chicken. I Googled it, and they had all these tamales that look nothing like ours so *shrugs*. There isn't really a exact way about going about it because most of the things you do while others cook. So mostly I'll be captioning my pictures of the big stages.  Also, there are no measurements because honestly it's all like mother intuition. 

First thing you want to do is boil the chicken! I have chicken breasts, bone in, cut in half. Don't forget the salt. Once it's cooked all the way through, you'll put them out to cool. Make sure you save the broth too.

We will get together all the ingredients for the filling. Our picadillo filling contains carrots, potatoes, olives, and chiles in vinagre (or chiles escabeche). You want to chop all the ingredients into small cubes. The carrots and potatoes, you want to boil in salt until soft, be sure not to overcook. You also have to purchase corn husks to cover the tamales, we usually prepare them by sinking them into warm water so they'll soften up and be ready to fold. 


These are the chopped ingredients. (you want to drain the carrots and potatoes :)) You'll also boil some tomatoes and onions for the tomato sauce.

When the chicken is cool enough for you, you will shred the chicken, this will go along with the tomato and vegetables.

When the tomatoes and onions are cooked you'll place it in the blender along with a clove of garlic and some spices (my mom chose cumin). While blending, you'll put olive oil into a wok (?) and heat it up. Once it's hot pour the tomato sauce in (at a distance and you should probably turn the vent on because it will jump and sizzle! :))

You'll mix all the ingredients together, vegetables, chicken, and sauce. Here's where you'll do a taste test. You can add salt or broth if needed. 

We will make "masa", which you can call a sort of dough, You will need Maseca and Rendered pig fat (lard), we call it "manteca" and you can get both at the Mexican grocery store. Not sure if all lard types work but get Mexican style! Apparently its heated at higher temperatures. I'm guessing the one we buy is fresh by the packaging, but you can get it canned also. You'll mix it together, along with water, some chicken broth, and salt until you get the desired taste. And it should have the consistency like you see below.

You will get the corn husks and slather the masa close to the open end and plop the filling on top. After, you'll fold it. First hot dog style, nice and tight, then pull the pointed corner towards the top (if that makes any sense) You'll need a steamer pot, put the water below cover it, then start placing the tamales vertically till you reach the top and just place them as they fit, you will cover and let cook for about two hours or until the masa is cooked and it has your desired consistency. 

Thanks! Enjoy

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