It isn’t Christmas without tamales! But they can be so bad for you. Traditionally, they are made with a corn ‘masa’ mixed with lard or shortening and filled with pork that is cooked in red chile. You can purchase the masa in the frozen section or you can get it in powdered form usually somewhere near the flour aisle. I am going to skip the meat and replace the lard with olive oil so I can indulge without the guilt.
Below is the traditional recipe with some comments on how my family does it differently. I also recently posted the recipe for my Vegetarian Tamales with Vegan variation. You have a lot of options!
Here is an example of the frozen masa.
The recipe is right on the back of the masa as well as the corn husks. I’m not much of a meat person but it is interesting to me that the recipe boils the heck out of the meat, which seems to me would make it dry…Perhaps not- I’ve never done it that way. When I was growing up, we always slow-cooked the pork roast ahead of time in a crockpot.
Keep in mind that if you make the entire package (5lb), you will be assembling ~4 dozen tamales. It’s a lot of work! I recommend you recruit some assistants and set up an assembly line to reduce the workload or make a smaller batch. If you get the frozen version, you cannot thaw it in the microwave! It will cook the masa and ruin your recipe (I’ve done that).
My last comment on this recipe is how long they steam the tamales (1.5 hours). 30 minutes is more than enough.
Here is an example of the powdered Masa Harina. I found the bag in my pantry and it must be like 10 years old. I expected to find weevils in it but was surprised to find that there weren’t any. There wasn’t a recipe on the back so here is the ratio of ingredients.
2 cups Masa Harina
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup fat
½ tsp salt
1 cup broth