How to Make Basic Masa Tamales with Fillings

This basic masa tamale recipe is built for flexibility. First, you learn how to beat the masa, fill the corn husks, and then steam the tamales. Second, you are given three options for savory fillings to flavor the masa — chiles and cheese, chicken and salsa, and pork in adobado sauce.

You can use the salsas or sauces that go with the fillings in three ways: 1⁄2 cup gets beaten into the masa, 1⁄2 cup gets mixed into the filling, and the remaining 1⁄2 cup is served with the finished tamales.

Tamales as delicious as these deserve to be the main focus of a meal. The traditional accompaniments are rice and beans, but we prefer to serve them with something lighter, like a big green salad.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Andrea Skjold]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Andrea Skjold

Preparation time: 30 minutes (not including the preparation time for the filling and sauce and softening time for corn husks)

Cooking time: 1 hour and 15 minutes (not including the preparation time for the filling and sauce)

Yield: 12 to 14 tamales

1⁄2 cup sauce from one of the filling recipes that follow this recipe

1 cup chicken stock, at room temperature

1 teaspoon baking soda

1-1⁄2 teaspoons salt

1⁄2 cup vegetable shortening or cold lard

1 pound cold prepared ground masa for tamales, or 1-3⁄4 cups dry masa harina, moistened with 1 cup warm water and then chilled

8-ounce package dried corn husks, softened

Fillings and sauces (see the following recipes)

Garnish: Sour cream

  1. Mix together 1⁄2 cup of the salsa or sauce from one of the fillings, the chicken stock, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.

  2. Place the masa in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until light in texture, about 6 minutes.

    Slowly add the chicken stock mixture while beating continuously at medium-high speed. Turn the mixer speed up to high and add the shortening or lard, a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating and scraping down the bowl until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 15 minutes total.

    Test for lightness by dropping 1 tablespoon of masa into cold water: If it floats, the mixture is light enough. If not, continue beating at high speed a few minutes longer.

  3. Wrap the tamales, spreading about 2-1⁄2 tablespoons of the masa mixture over a 2-x-3-inch area of husk. Top with a spoonful of filling and its sauce.

  4. To cook, line a steamer with corn husks and fill with tamales, upright in layers.

    Cook over simmering water for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the husks just pull away from the masa without sticking. Serve hot with the remaining sauce and sour cream. (You can reheat cold tamales in a steamer over simmering water for 30 minutes.) Store leftover tamales in the refrigerator as long as 4 days, or you can freeze them. Reheat for about 30 minutes in the steamer.

Green Chile Cheese Filling

If you like chile rellenos, you’ll love this recipe.

Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 15 minutes to make the Green Tomatillo Salsa

Yield: 12 to 14 tamales

1-1⁄2 cups Green Tomatillo Salsa

4 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1⁄2-inch strips

1 pound Mexican cheese, such as Ranchero, queso fresco, panela, or manchego, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1⁄2 cup of the salsa, the chiles, and the cheese. (Reserve 1⁄2 cup of the salsa to incorporate into the masa.)

  2. Serve the remaining 1⁄2 cup of salsa alongside the finished tamales.

Roasted Tomato Chicken Filling

Olives and raisins add sweet and salty accents to this easy chicken filling.

Preparation time: 5 minutes, plus 35 minutes to make the Red Roasted Tomato Salsa

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Yield: 12 to 14 tamales

1-1⁄2 cups Red Roasted Tomato Salsa

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1⁄2 cup green olives, pitted

1⁄2 cup golden raisins

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 1⁄2 cup of the salsa, the chicken, olives, and raisins.

  2. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until heated through. (Reserve 1⁄2 cup of the salsa to incorporate into the masa.)

  3. Serve the remaining 1⁄2 cup salsa alongside the finished tamales.

Pork and Green Chile Adobo Filling

Rich pork and spicy green chiles are a tough combination to beat.

Preparation time: 5 minutes, plus 1 hour 20 minutes to make the Adobado Sauce

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Yield: 12 to 14 tamales

1-1⁄2 cups Adobado Sauce

2 cups shredded, cooked pork

1 poblano chile, roasted, peeled, seeded and cut into 1⁄2-inch-wide strips

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 1⁄2 cup of the Adobado Sauce, the pork, and the chile.

    Simmer for about 15 minutes, until heated through. (Reserve 1⁄2 cup of the sauce to incorporate into the masa.)

  2. Serve the remaining 1⁄2 cup sauce alongside the finished tamales.

  • Add a Comment
  • Print
  • Share
blog comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement

Inside Dummies.com