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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Taking the Mystery Out of Tamales,

Tamales 101!
First know this they are easy to make and WOW are they good!

Most every city on the planet has a mexican grocery store, and there you will find my goto ingredients.

Pre made MASA. Ok so whats MASA?? Simple... Masa is Spanish for dough, it is sometimes referred to cornmeal dough ( masa de maiz in Spanish). The dried and powdered form is called masa de harina or maseca(which is actually a commercial brand); it is reconstituted with water.Masa is the corn based dough that is used to make tamales and sopes, and many other Mexican and South/Central American recipes.
Ok you might be saying not purest wrong! The locals buy the pre made all the time. Good for them...good for me!

Corn Husks. They are typically bought by the pound. There are about 5-7 doz. in a lb.

Next you need a steamer.

Ok let get cracken.

First- Prepare the Corn Shucks

Soak the shucks in a sink full of warm water for about 2 hours. Carefully separate them when they get soft. Try to not tear or damage the corn shucks. It is easier to make the tamales if the shucks are in one

Husks in the sink covered with hot water

My chicken filling of love.

1. 6 Boneless chicken breast

2. Water enough to cover the chicken. Add 2T cumin, 2T chili powder, 2T my "Onion Happiness" avalable @ www.happydiabetic.com

4. Bring the chicken to a med. boil until the chicken starts breaking apart. That's it! Done. Reserve a cup of the cooking broth.
5. When the chicken cools break it apart into small pieces.

6. Add the remaining liquid to the shredded chicken.

Pre Made MASA

Next: Pick up a shuck, lay it across the palm of your hand with the small end toward your fingers. scoop up about 1/2 c of the Masa dough with your hand, and then smear it on the shuck. Dipping you fingers in water will make it smooth.

Them: Place about 1 tablespoon of the chopped meat mixture in the center of the husk.

Starting on the left side (the side where the Masa dough goes all the way to the edge), roll the tamale all the way to the right edge. Now, fold the top of the shuck over like an envelope and lay tamale on the counter with the fold on the under side. Roll the next one the same until all your shucks with masa on them are rolled.

Place the tamales into a large steamer and boil cover for 1 hour.
Look for them to be firm and no white spots. White spots are a sigh of undercooked
To cook the tamales, You need a very large pot that has something in the bottom to keep the tamales out of the water while they steam . Add just enough water to the pot, then start stacking the tamales upright in the steamer basket until full. The envelope end of the tamale will be on the bottom, the open end of the tamale should be on top, as pictured at left. Continue to fill the pot. The tamales need to pack tight enough that they do not fall over and begin to unfold.

The Tamale Team

Congratulations! You are now part of the few, the proud, the tamale cooks. You will notice that your life will be instantly different. You will be popular. People will invite you over. As you walk up to a crowd of people, you will hear someone say, "Isn't that the Tamale cook?" Yes folks, your simple life will never be the same. You have arrived. Please remember to be kind to the little people.


  1. This is a great receipe! This is my first time to use premade Masa. I usually add seasoning to my dough. this is a great starter receipe. Its very easy to understand. i may teach it to my Grandaughter now, and teach her the more advanced version like my receipe when she gets a little older and has mastered the basics. Thank You!!, GOOD JOB!!!

  2. Thank you for sharing. I am a newbie to tamale making, just tried a small 8 tamale batch last night... didn't know what i was doing but tasted good, but dough too dry. I will try the pre-made masa and make some more again today. I wouldn't mind being the Tamale Lady at work, I'm already known for my Jalapeno Dip so this will push me up another notch on the Bring Food to work days.


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