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Easy Mexican Tamales Recipe

Welcome to a culinary adventure full of flavor, tradition and fun! If there is one dish that ignites passion and appetite in Mexico, it is undoubtedly the famous Tamales. These little bundles of joy are much more than just food; they are a cultural expression that has delighted entire generations. In this article, we will take you by the hand through the fascinating history and secrets behind the Mexican Tamales recipe. Get ready to embark on a journey full of flavors, laughter and, of course, lots of tamales.

hands-of-a-person-cutting-a-tamale-Mexican Tamales recipe

What are Tamales?

Our journey begins with a fundamental question: What are tamales? Well, imagine a delicious corn dough filled with tasty ingredients, carefully wrapped in corn husks and steamed. It’s like opening a gift full of surprises and happiness in every bite. Tamales are a living symbol of Mexico’s rich culinary heritage and a showcase of the ability to fuse flavors that delight even the most discerning palates.

The soul of tamales lies in the diversity of their fillings. From the traditional chicken and pork, to the more creative ones such as mushrooms, chiles or even sweets. Each region of Mexico has its own version, with local ingredients that add their own magic touch.

Key Tamale Ingredients:

To create truly authentic and delicious tamales, you’ll need to gather the following key ingredients:

  • Corn masa: 2 cups of corn masa for tamales (you can get it at Latin stores or use special corn flour for tamales).
  • Broth: 1 cup chicken broth or pork broth (you can make it with bouillon cubes or use homemade broth for a more authentic flavor).
  • Lard: 1/2 cup lard (this is one of the secrets to a smooth, flavorful texture in the dough; if you can’t find lard, you can use butter).
  • Filling: 1 cup cooked, shredded pork or chicken (you can season it with salt, pepper and a little cumin for a fuller flavor). Additional stuffing options: chiles en rajas, mushrooms, refried beans, cheese, or whatever your heart desires!
  • Corn husks: 8-10 dried corn husks (soaked in hot water to soften before using)
  • Salsa(Sauce): 1 cup red or green salsa (optional, for an extra kick of flavor).

How to make Tamales step by step (4 servings):

Step 1: Prepare the masa.

In a large bowl, mix the corn masa with the lard until well incorporated.
Add the broth a little at a time while continuing to mix, until you have a smooth, manageable dough. The consistency should be similar to peanut butter.

Step 2: Prepare the corn husks

Soak the dried corn husks in hot water for about 30 minutes, until they are pliable and easy to handle.
Dry them carefully with a clean cloth.

Step 3: Assemble the tamales

Take a corn husk and place it with the narrower side facing you.
Spread a thin layer of masa on the corn husk, leaving a border of about 2 centimeters on the bottom and top.
Add a spoonful of filling in the center of the masa.

Step 4: Wrap the tamales

Fold the sides of the corn husk toward the center, making sure the filling is completely covered by the masa.
Then fold the bottom of the husk up and secure it with a knot or a strip of corn husk.

Step 5: Cook the tamales

Place a rack in a large pot and add enough water so that it doesn’t touch the rack.
Arrange the tamales upright on the rack.
Cover the pot and cook over medium-high heat for about 1 hour or until the masa is firm.

Step 6: Serve tamales

Let the tamales rest for a few minutes before untying and opening.
Serve the tamales warm and, if desired, accompany with additional sauce or garnishes.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mexican Tamales Recipe:

Can I make tamales ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare the tamales ahead of time and freeze them before steaming. Just be sure to wrap them well in plastic wrap or wax paper before freezing. When you want to enjoy them, just cook them straight from the freezer, no need to thaw beforehand.

Can I substitute the lard for another ingredient?
Sure! If you can’t find lard or prefer a lighter option, you can replace it with butter or vegetable oil. Although lard gives it an authentic flavor and a special texture, other fats also work well.

What is the best filling for tamales?
The choice is yours! The beauty of tamales lies in their versatility. You can opt for classic fillings like chicken, pork or chiles en rajas, or be more adventurous with options like mushrooms, refried beans, shrimp or even sweets with fruit and chocolate. Explore and discover your favorite!

What to do if my dough is too dry or too runny?
If the dough is too dry, add a little more broth in small amounts until it reaches the right consistency. If it is too runny, add a little more corn masa. The key is to achieve a soft and manageable masa.

How long do tamales keep?
Cooked tamales will keep in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days in an airtight container. You can also freeze them for up to 2 months and reheat them at the time of serving.

Tips for making Mexican Tamales Recipe:

Have fun!
Making tamales is an experience full of joy and love. Invite family or friends to join in the preparation and enjoy the process together.

Practice patience
Preparing tamales may take time, but every minute invested is worth it. Enjoy the process and take your time to make perfect tamales.

Don’t skimp on the filling
Be sure to add enough filling in each tamale to get that burst of flavor in every bite – generosity is key!

Experiment with flavors
Don’t be afraid to try different combinations of fillings and sauces – creativity is welcome in the kitchen!

Share and give as a gift
Tamales are an ideal meal to share with loved ones. Make an extra batch and give some tamales as gifts to friends and neighbors. It will be a loving gesture that they will surely appreciate.

Enjoy your tamales with a personal touch
Accompany your tamales with homemade salsa, guacamole, sour cream and cheese. Every bite can be an opportunity to create your own unique combination of flavors.

With these tips and answers to frequently asked questions, you’re ready to conquer the world of Mexican tamales, so go ahead, get creative and bring your own Mexican Tamales recipe full of excitement, flavor and fun to life!

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