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By Ellen Riojas-Clark, Ph. D. (2008)

Tamales de puerco

(Makes 6 dozen)

INGREDIENTS:

Meat Filling
6 lbs pork butt
1 onion
6 cloves garlic, peeled
3  tsp  salt
water to cover
8 chile anchos [dry]
1 Tb comino seeds

Masa
6 lbs masa from molino or
4 lbs MASECA 
1 lb lard
6 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
broth
6 lbs hojas/corn shucks

Shucks/hojas
6 lbs hojas/corn shucks. Hot water to cover.

DIRECTIONS:
Meat Filling

Cut the meat into large squares and put it into a large pot with the onion, garlic, salt, and peppercorns. Barely cover the meat with water and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and simmer the meat until it is tender — about an hour or so. Set the meat aside to cool off in the broth. Strain the meat, reserving the broth, and chop meat roughly.

Cover chiles and comino seeds with water and bring to a boil. Let them stand until chiles are soft and water cools. When they are cool enough to handle, slit them open to remove the seeds and veins. Using a molcajete or a blender grind/blend them along with the comino into a paste.

Melt 1 tablespoon lard, add the chile paste and sauté for about 3 minutes and stir continously. Then, add the meat and continue to cook for the flavors to meld. Add some of the broth and let the mixture cook for about 10 minutes over a medium flame. Filling should not be watery. Add salt as necessary.

Preparing the hojas/corn shucks

Hojas, or corn husks, are dry and papery but usually clean of silks, trimmed and flattened – ready for use. To soften them for use, pour plenty of very hot water over them and soak them for several hours. You can also soak the hojas/shucks in a top loader washing machine. If you do, do not forget to clean it well with vinegar and rinse beforehand. DO NOT agitate, only use the spin cycle. You can then soak them twice. Shake them well to get rid of excess water and pat them dry with a towel.

Making the tamales

Using a tablespoon or a knife spread a thin layer of the masa over the

broadest part of the shuck, allowing space to fold down about 2 inches at the pointed top. Spread the dough about approximately 3 inches wide and 3½  inches long.

Using a tablespoon or a knife spread a thin layer of the masa over the

broadest part of the shuck, allowing space to fold down about 2 inches at the pointed top. Spread the dough about approximately 3 inches wide and 3½  inches long.

 Making the masa

If you get your masa from a molino, ask for masa for tamales or masa quebradita. If you use MASECA, get the one for tamales, which makes a very good masa and follow the directions on the package.

Melt the lard. Using a large mixer, mix the masa, salt, baking soda, broth, and add lard one cup at a time. Continue beating for 10 minutes or so, until a 1/2 teaspoon of the masa floats in a cup of cold water (if it floats you can be sure the tamales will be tender and light). Beat until fluffy and semi-shiny. Masa should be of a stiff consistency, but spreadable.

Spoon some filling down the middle of the dough (about 1 tablespoon). Fold the sides of the shucks together firmly. Fold up the empty 2 inch section of the hoja, forming a tightly closed “bottom” and leaving the top open.

 Cooking the tamales

Fill the bottom of a large soup pot or a tamal steamer with water up to the level indicated and bring to a boil. Put either a molcajete or a bowl at the bottom of steamer and fill in with left over hojas. Stack the tamales upright, with the folded down part at the bottom. Pack firmly, but not tightly. Cover the tamales with more corn shucks. Cover the steamer with a dishcloth or thick cloth then place a tight fitting lid. Cook tamales for about 2½  to 3 hours over a medium flame. Keep water in a teapot simmering so that you can refill the steamer when necessary.

To test if the tamales are ready, remove one from the center, and one from the side of the steamer. Tamales are done when you open the hoja and the masa peels away easily; the tamal should be completely smooth.

Tamales de Pollo con Rajas

 FILLING INGREDIENTS:

1    coarsely shredded cooked chicken and chicken broth

4    large chile poblanos, fresh

3    tablespoons olive oil

2   garlic cloves, mashed

10    green tomatillos, water to cover

1 cup   chopped cilantro

½   chopped onion

salt

ground black pepper to taste

corn kernels can be added, either fresh or canned

 

DIRECTIONS:

Boil the chicken in enough water to cover and cook until done. Drain chicken and save broth.Then, boil tomatillos until soft and blend.

Flash fry the chile poblanos in hot oil. Cool and peel. Remove seeds and cut into slivers.

Heat the oil in a large deep “olla”, or skillet, over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, then sauté. Stir in tomatillos and chicken, add chicken broth and cilantro.

Season to taste. Cook over medium heat until liquid is reduced.

Follow the previous recipe for preparing the masa and hojas, making the tamales, and then cooking them.

 Tamales de Frijol con Jalapeño o Queso

FILLING INGREDIENTS:

1 lb pinto beans

3       tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, mashed

½      chopped onion

salt

ground black pepper to taste

1 can sliced pickled jalapeños

Monterrey Jack cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Boil pinto beans, onion, and garlic until soft. Mash thoroughly and fry in hot olive oil. Cook until they are the consistency of a paste.

Follow the previous recipe for preparing the masa and hojas. As you make each tamal with the masa and the bean filling, add several slivers of jalapeño before folding. In others you can add slices of cheese and jalapeño to the beans before folding. Steam them.

Vegetarian Tamales

FILLING INGREDIENTS:

1 C. grated zucchini

1 C. frozen corn

1 C. grated carrots

1 onion, diced

2 Hatch chiles, seeded and chopped

¼ C. chopped cilantro

1 minced garlic clove

cumin to taste

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for a short while. If there is liquid, let it reduce. Don’t let the mixture get mushy.

Follow the previous recipe for preparing the masa and hojas. As you make each tamal, fill the masa with the vegetable mixture. Tamales can be filled with just about anything. Steam them.

Champurrado

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup fresh masa  or 1/2 cup MASECA mixed with a 1/4 cup hot water to

blend

2 1/4 cups evaporated milk

1 1/2 cups water

1 disk Mexican chocolate [Ibarra is ok but the best brands are Soledad or Mayordormo]

3 tablespoons piloncillo, chopped or 1/3 cup brown sugar plus 2 teaspoons

molasses

1 cinnamon stick

DIRECTIONS:

Place the water and the masa into a blender and mix until smooth. Transfer to a medium sized saucepan.

Add the milk, chocolate, piloncillo (or sugar, molasses combination) and cinnamon stick.

Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking with a molinillo or whisk until the chocolate and sugar are melted and well-blended. Strain the mixture through a medium sieve (optional). This is a traditional hot drink to serve with tamales.