How to make tamales from scratch?

Introduction: What are tamales?

Tamales are a traditional Mesoamerican dish made of masa dough (a type of corn dough) filled with various ingredients such as meat, cheese, vegetables, or fruit, and wrapped in a corn husk. They are steamed until cooked and have a unique, savory flavor that makes them a favorite among many.

Making tamales from scratch can be a time-consuming process, but the end result is worth it. Not only do homemade tamales taste delicious, but they also allow you to personalize the filling and adjust the seasoning to your liking. In this article, we will guide you through the steps of making tamales from scratch.

Gathering ingredients and tools

To make tamales, you will need several ingredients, including masa harina (a type of corn flour), pork lard or vegetable shortening, baking powder, salt, chicken broth, and corn husks. For the filling, you can use any combination of meat, vegetables, and spices that you like.

In addition to the ingredients, you will need several tools such as a large mixing bowl, an electric mixer or whisk, a steamer pot or large pot with a steamer basket, and a large spoon or spatula for spreading the masa dough. It’s also helpful to have a large workspace and a few hours of uninterrupted time to make tamales.

Preparing the masa dough

To make the masa dough, mix masa harina, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the pork lard or vegetable shortening until fluffy. Gradually add the masa mixture and chicken broth to the lard, mixing until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky.

Making the filling

For the filling, cook your choice of meat (such as shredded chicken or pork) with onions, garlic, and spices until tender. You can also add vegetables such as bell peppers, tomatoes, or jalapeños for extra flavor. Once the filling is cooked, set it aside to cool.

Assembling the tamales

To assemble the tamales, soak the corn husks in warm water for about 30 minutes to soften them. Take a corn husk and spread a spoonful of masa dough onto the center, leaving room at the edges. Add a spoonful of filling on top of the masa dough, and then fold the sides of the corn husk towards the center, rolling the tamale tightly.

Wrapping the tamales

Once the tamales are rolled, tie them with a thin strip of corn husk or kitchen twine to hold them in place. Repeat the process until all the masa dough and filling are used up.

Cooking the tamales

To cook the tamales, place them in a steamer pot or large pot with a steamer basket. Add enough water to cover the tamales and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and steam the tamales for about 1-2 hours, or until the masa dough is cooked through and firm.

Testing for doneness

To test if the tamales are done, remove a tamale from the pot and let it cool slightly. If the masa dough is firm and does not stick to the corn husk, the tamales are ready.

Serving and storing tamales

Serve the tamales hot with your favorite toppings such as salsa, guacamole, or sour cream. If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze them for up to 3 months.

Conclusion: Enjoy your homemade tamales!

Making tamales from scratch may seem intimidating, but with a little patience and practice, you can create delicious tamales that will impress your friends and family. Experiment with different fillings and seasonings to find your perfect tamale recipe. Enjoy your homemade tamales!

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Elise DeVoe

Elise is a seasoned food writer with seven years of experience. Her culinary journey began as Managing Editor at the College of Charleston for Spoon University, the ultimate resource for college foodies. After graduating, she launched her blog, Cookin’ with Booze, which has now transformed into captivating short-form videos on TikTok and Instagram, offering insider tips for savoring Charleston’s local cuisine.

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