Alamo, where Jalapeńo jelly is very popular!!

"Secrets to Cooking TexMex"
Tamale Making 101
(Makes approx. 7 dozen Large Tamales)


It is best to cook your meat the day before so it has
a chance to fully absorb the flavors and spices.

It is also easier to place on the masa when it is cold.

 ANCHO Broth

First thing is to cover the pot and bring the water to
a boil.  While this is heating put the Dried Ancho Pods
on a cookie sheet and put under a hot broiler for 10 
seconds, turn over and put under broiler for another 
10 seconds. 
Remove, let cool and pull or cut stems off and shake out
all seeds.  Put into the pot of water that is heating.
When water begins to boil, remove from heat and let steep
45 minutes to 1 hour.  Remove the ancho pods and scrape
the “ancho meat” from the skin.  Chop with a knife and set
aside, reserve liquid.  Wash hands with soapy water immediately.


Start by cutting into cubes a 6-7 lb. Pork Shoulder, which is also
known as “Boston Butt”.  Put into a large bowl and sprinkle with
the Fajita Seasoning.  If time permits, refrigerate overnight before

                     Bowl of Cubed Pork Seasoned with Fajita Seasoning

Into a large stew pot add the Lard and start adding the cubes.
When meat is brown, add the onion, bell pepper and garlic.

Next, add the ground cumin, Gebhardt Chili Powder, Salt and Pepper.


Stir well to mix the just added ingredients.  Add enough of the
Ancho Tea
to cover the meat, put lid on and simmer for 2 hours.
If there is 'excess liquid' use a ladle and remove and put in a bowl.
(You can add this to the Masa mixture for even more flavor)

Remove cover and let simmer another 30 minutes to 1 hour and
stir to break up the tender meat.  Reduce heat to low and continue
until all the meat is shredded.  Let cool and refrigerate overnight.

         Fiesta Brand Tamale Corn Shucks                 

˝-1 lb. Shucks depending on the quality
(2 lbs of quality shuck will yield 25-30 doz) 

At least 2 hours before starting the tamales place the shucks in the
sink or an ice chest and cover with warm water.  Check after 1 hour
and add fresh warm water if it has gotten cold.  The shucks will tend
to want to float so put a heavy plate or pot filled with water on top to
keep them submerged.

Start by melting the Lard in a sauce pan.

            ARMOUR Lard 4 Lb. 

Next, add the Corn Flour into a large mixing bowl (or electric mixer). 

                 MASECA  Corn Flour (Dry Masa)
Add the spices blend to mix well.
Next add the Ancho Tea or Water and again mix well.  Slowly add the
melted lard and mix for several minutes.  The main idea here is to work
air into the masa until it is moist and fluffy.  It is impossible to over mix.

Assemble the helpers around the kitchen table and everyone should have
a flat plate or tray and a butter knife, spatula, or masa spreader.  Take an
unbroken shuck and place it on the tray in front of you, small end to the left.
Using a spatula, or masa spreader, dip into the prepared masa and take out
approximately one heaping tablespoon.  Spread it on the shuck in such a way
that it covers the lower two-thirds of the right 4 inches of the shuck.  The masa
should be thick enough so that you cannot see through to the shuck.  


Next, spread some meat filling on the middle of the masa.  The thickness of the 
masa and meat filling is strictly personal preference.  You decide how much masa 
you would like around your filling.  Think of other tamales you have eaten and 
decide what you like best.

The tamale is then rolled over starting from the side with the masa and the meat.  
The unspread side covers the outside and holds it together.  The unfilled end is 
then folded over to the middle.

Place the tamales on a cookie sheet with the folded end touching the cookie
sheet.  After 1 layer is completed on the cookie sheet cover with a damp tea
towel to keep the shucks moist.  When there are enough to fill the Tamale
Steamer Pot, fill the pot with water until just below the inside 'rack'.  Place
a layer of shucks on the bottom and begin loading the steamer.  The 'open'
end will be at the top and the 'folded' end on the bottom.  Don't pack the tamales 
too tight as they will need room to expand as they are cooking.
Tamale Steamer Pot
(A trick here is to place a coin in the bottom of the steamer.  As long as there
is water in the pot the coin will 'click' and if it stops the water has boiled away.)
You may have to occasionally add  water in order to keep the pot from boiling dry.

Steam for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours then let them 'rest' about 15 minutes before 
removing.  The tamale tester gets to taste the first one. You may have to occasionally
add water to keep the pot from boiling dry.  


The quickest way to reheat a tamale is to leave it in the shuck and microwave
for 15 seconds, turn over and 'zap' again for 15 seconds.  The slower, but better 
way is to steam them for 10 minutes.  If your tamales are frozen, put them in a
steamer and once the steam begins set your timer for 25 minutes.


(If the meat filling runs out and you have some extra masa, bean tamales 
can be made simply by substituting refried beans for the meat before rolling.  
A thin slice of jalapeno or a strip of fried bacon can also be added to the beans.  
Chicken filling can be made by boiling some chicken and seasoning with comino, 
chili powder, garlic, and salt to taste.)

After cooking the tamales, they can be wrapped in aluminum foil and frozen for 
up to 3 months. You can steam them right out of the freezer, about 20-30 minutes.

2 lbs. Bacon, Fried Crisp, reserve drippings
2-15 oz. cans Rosarita Refried Beans, Traditional or Zesty.  


2-15 oz. cans Rosarita Refried Beans, Traditional or Zesty

Also, pickled Jalapenos that have been cut into strips can be added for that extra
”Zip” !!



Questions ? or Comments:
Copyright 1998-2011 "Secrets to Cooking Tex-Mex/Michael W. Ludwig. All rights reserved.