It’s tamale season! As a little girl, I dreaded this time of the year. There weren’t visions of sugar plumbs dancing in my Mexican head. There were kitchen nightmares ahead (minus Gordon Ramsey). If I dared to cross the kitchen, I was handed a knife and a corn husk. Smear. Fill. Wrap. Repeat. One day, I saw my older cousin going through the front room, completely avoiding the kitchen, and finding her way to our neighbor’s kitchen who already made tamales. She returned with a bag full of cooked tamales from the neighbor, thereby making herself the hero of our family because ours were still cooking. A few years later, my cousin was sitting at the table … smearing, filling, wrapping… when, this time, I walked in with the neighbor’s Tamales de Rajas con Queso. Translation: Jalapeño and Cheese Tamales. Here’s a tried and true tamales recipe that’s delicious, yummy, and one of the most classic Mexican dishes.
It’s not the tamales recipe. It’s the work involved that makes them hard. Truth be told. That’s actually why we have big Mexican families: to wrap tamales.
You start by soaking the corn husks in warm water. At least 20 minutes. I usually put a large pot lid on top of the soaking corn husks because they will float.
If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where they sell prepared masa, BUY IT. You won’t regret it. Any tamales recipe take forever. Why make an extra step for yourself? If not…
How to Make Masa for Tamales
3 1/2 cups masa harina for tamales (20 ounces)
3 cups very hot water
1/2 pound lard
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup chicken stock
In a large bowl, combine the masa with the hot water.
Knead until you form a smooth dough.
Beat the lard with your mixer until smooth. About 2 minutes.
Add salt and baking soda.
Add the masa in small batches, beating until smooth and scraping down each time.
Pour stock and beat until the dough is soft. About 2 minutes.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Beat one last time with your mixer for 1 minute before using.
Filling the Tamales
Get a corn husk and apply a thin layer of masa.
Add your filling.
Fold each side inward.
Fold the corner end in and set aside.
When you buy a bag of corn husks, you will always find some that are NOT good. Maybe they are too small, or they just look weird. Add those to the bottom of a large stock pot or steamer, if using.
Add tamales open side up.
Add water to fill the pot several inches.
Steam for 1 /2 to 2 hours or until the masa removes easily from the corn husk.
Watch How to Make Jalapeño and Cheese Tamales
- 1 bag corn husks (about 30 husks)
- Prepared Masa (see recipe above)
- 1 12-ounce can pickled Jalapeño slices
- ½ lb shredded Oaxaca cheese, or Monterrey Jack, ¾-inch slices
- Soak corn husks in hot water for 1 hour.
- Apply a thin layer of masa.
- Add your a slice of Jalapeño pepper.
- Add a slice of cheese. (If using a larger corn husks, add more cheese)
- Fold each side inward.
- Fold the corner end in and set aside.
- You will always have corn husks that are NOT good. Add those to the bottom of a large stock pot or steamer, if using.
- Add tamales open side up to the bottom of the pot.
- Add water to fill the pot several inches. Steam for 1 /2 to 2 hours or until the masa removes easily from the corn husk.