Basic Tamales

These tamales are great for a night in, or an authentic Mexican dinner. Choose from one of three delicious fillings, or try a new one each time you make this Mexican recipe.

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  • Makes: 30 servings
  • Serving Size: 1 tamale
  • Makes: 30 tamales
  • Prep: 50 mins
  • Chill: 1 hr
  • Soak: 30 mins

Basic Tamales

Directions

  1. In a large bowl beat butter, lard, salt, and baking powder with a mixer on medium 1 minute or until smooth. Alternately add masa harina and broth, beating until mixture resembles a thick, creamy paste. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, in a very large bowl cover corn husks with boiling water, weighting them down with a plate to keep submerged. Let stand 30 to 45 minutes or until corn husks are soft and pliable. Drain well; pat dry with paper towels.
  3. To assemble tamales, starting at the wide end of a corn husk, spoon 2 rounded tablespoons dough onto husk and pat with wet fingers into a 4x3-inch rectangle so that one of the long sides of the dough is at a long edge of the husk. Spoon 1 rounded tablespoon desired filling down the center of dough. Fold long edge of husk over filling so it brings edges of masa together, encapsulating filling. Overlap long ends of husk; roll around outside of filled dough. Fold bottom of tamale up; secure with strips of corn husk. Place, folded-side down, on a platter until all are assembled.
  4. To steam tamales, add a steamer basket to an 8-qt. pot. Add water to just below the basket. Stand tamales upright in steamer basket. Don't pack too tightly, but fill the space. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; steam 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until dough easily pulls away from corn husks and is spongy and cooked through. Uncover; let stand 10 minutes before serving.

From the Test Kitchen

Make-ahead drections

After Step 3 layer tamales in an airtight container. Freeze up to 3 months. To serve, steam frozen tamales as directed in Step 4, adding 10 minutes to the steaming time.

Chicken and Dried Fruit Tamale Filling

Directions

  1. In a large skillet heat oil over medium. Add onion and garlic; cook 6 to 8 minutes or until very tender and starting to brown. Stir in cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Stir in tomatoes, apricots, and raisins. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes or until fruit is softened. Remove from heat. Stir in chicken. Transfer filling to a bowl. Cover; refrigerate until ready to serve (up to 24 hours).

Nutrition Facts (Chicken and Dried Fruit Tamale Filling)

  • Per serving:
  • 17 kcal ,
  • 0 g fat
  • 3 mg chol. ,
  • 36 mg sodium ,
  • 2 g carb. ,
  • 0 g fiber ,
  • 2 g sugar ,
  • 1 g pro.

Red Chile-Pork Tamale Filling

Directions

  1. In a 4-qt. heavy pot combine pork, onion, smashed garlic, peppercorns, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Add enough water to cover (4 to 5 cups). Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, over medium-low 1 to 11/2 hours or until meat is very tender. Remove meat from broth; discard broth. Shred meat using two forks.
  2. Meanwhile, in a dry large skillet toast dried chile peppers over medium 4 to 5 minutes or until they have a toasted aroma, turning frequently. Cool slightly. Remove and discard stems and seeds from peppers. Place peppers in a large bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand 30 minutes to soften. Remove peppers, reserving liquid. Strain liquid through a fine-mesh sieve. In a blender combine the peppers, 3/4 cup of the reserved liquid, the 2 cloves halved garlic, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Cover; blend until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl; add pork and stir to coat. Cover; refrigerate until ready to serve (up to 24 hours).

Nutrition Facts (Red Chile-Pork Tamale Filling)

  • Per serving:
  • 27 kcal ,
  • 1 g fat
  • ( 0 g sat. fat ,
  • 10 mg chol. ,
  • 35 mg sodium ,
  • 1 g carb. ,
  • 0 g fiber ,
  • 0 g sugar ,
  • 3 g pro.

Poblano-Cheese Tamale Filling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. On a foil-lined baking sheet arrange peppers in a single layer, cut sides down. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. of the oil. Roast 20 to 25 minutes or until charred. Wrap in foil. Let stand 20 minutes or until cool. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard skins. Chop peppers.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. oil over medium. Add onion, garlic, and salt. Cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and cook 5 minutes more or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add chipotle pepper and adobo sauce; heat through. Remove from heat; stir in chopped roasted peppers. Transfer to a medium bowl; cool completely. Add cheese; toss to coat. Cover; refrigerate until ready to serve (up to 24 hours).

Nutrition Facts (Poblano-Cheese Tamale Filling)

  • Per serving:
  • 22 kcal ,
  • 1 g fat
  • ( 0 g sat. fat ,
  • 2 mg chol. ,
  • 7 mg sodium ,
  • 1 g carb. ,
  • 0 g fiber ,
  • 0 g sugar ,
  • 1 g pro.
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Nutrition Facts (Basic Tamales)

  • Per serving:
  • 174 kcal ,
  • 11 g fat
  • (5 g sat. fat ,
  • 1 g polyunsaturated fat ,
  • 4 g monounsaturated fat ),
  • 26 mg chol. ,
  • 303 mg sodium ,
  • 16 g carb. ,
  • 2 g fiber ,
  • 3 g sugar ,
  • 4 g pro.

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