Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I'm not a Mexican grandmother in real life...

...I just play one in the kitchen!

I've never attempted to make tamales before. For some reason, I always had this feeling that I couldn't do it. I thought it was supposed to take about twenty ladies in a kitchen for 2 or 3 days with pots of mysterious corn husks, meat mixtures and steam everywhere!

I kept seeing the pages in my Texas Highways cookbook staring back at me with yummy tamales on it and I finally decided to give it a try. I bought all the ingredients and let them sit on my counter a few days while I got my courage up.

Today was the day. I improvised a bit on the masa mixture. I thought the recipe seemed a bit bland, so I added a couple of extra ingredients.

Here's a photo essay of my adventure...

First I mixed up the masa - very easy process!

After I spread the masa on the corn husks, I added some homemade refried beans.

I prepared each tamale and set them aside until they were all ready to be steamed.

I didn't have a "proper" steamer, so I improvised and used a colander over a dutch oven and steamed them for about 1.5 hours. I'm not entirely comfortable heating our food up in plastic that way, so in the future, I'd consider it a worthwhile investment to get a steamer or stainless steel colander

Once I tested them (ate them) and the masa pulled away from the husks easily, and was nice and firm, I called it good!

Of course the real test was dinner that night. I made a fab tex-mex chili gravy for the tamales, plain rice with butter and a salad. The results were two thumbs up from Donald and me. An "I didn't think these tamales were going to taste this good" from Ivan, an "I like it a little" from Hannah, and a plate of thrown up tamale from Jenelle.

At least she's honest.

So, overall, things turned out good. For obvious reasons, I wouldn't make this a manditory family dinner very often, but they would be awesome to freeze and heat up occasionally. All in all, it took me about 3 hours of actual labor...that includes making the beans the night before, making the tamales and keeping track of them while they steamed. A worthwhile investment.

Buen provecho!


  1. OMG, those look delicious!!! I have to laugh at the reactions from your precious children! And I am gonna tell Brian about your lack of a proper steamer - he has 3! And he has 4 ss colanders! PACK RAT!

  2. Let me just tell you how good they are for BREAKFAST!!