How To Cook Tamales

How To Cook Tamales: A Step-by-Step Guide

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish enjoyed by people all around the world. These savory treats consist of masa dough, usually made from corn, filled with various ingredients such as meats, cheeses, or vegetables and wrapped in a corn husk. Cooking tamales might seem like a daunting task, but with the right instructions and a little bit of patience, you can create a mouthwatering batch of tamales in your own kitchen. In this article, we will walk you through the process of cooking tamales, from preparing the ingredients to serving them at the dinner table. So let’s get started!

– 2 cups of masa harina (corn flour)
– 1 ½ cups of chicken or vegetable broth
– ¾ cup of vegetable shortening or lard
– 1 teaspoon of salt
– 1 teaspoon of baking powder
– 30-40 dried corn husks (soaked in warm water for 30 minutes and drained)
– Filling of your choice (such as shredded chicken, pork, beef, cheese, or vegetables)
– Salsa, sour cream, and guacamole for serving (optional)

Step 1: Prepare the Masa Dough
In a large mixing bowl, combine the masa harina, salt, and baking powder. Gradually add the broth and shortening or lard. Mix with your hands until the dough becomes soft and pliable. If the dough feels too dry, add more broth or water, a tablespoon at a time. If it’s too wet, add additional masa harina. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Step 2: Assemble the Tamales
Take a soaked corn husk and spread a thin layer of masa dough onto it. Leave some space around the edges to fold and seal later. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of the dough. Fold one side of the husk over the filling and roll it tightly. Fold the bottom end of the husk up and secure it with a strip of corn husk or kitchen twine. Repeat the process for the remaining dough and filling.

Step 3: Steam the Tamales
Pour a couple of inches of water into a large pot and place a steamer basket inside. Arrange the tamales upright in the steamer, open end up, ensuring they are tightly packed. Cover the pot with a lid and bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and let the tamales steam for about 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until the masa is firm and cooked through. Check the water level occasionally and add more if needed.

Step 4: Serve and Enjoy!
Remove the tamales from the steamer and let them cool for a few minutes. Unwrap the husks and serve the tamales warm. You can enjoy them as they are or serve them with salsa, sour cream, or guacamole for added flavor. Tamales can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days, or frozen for longer shelf life.

FAQs about Cooking Tamales:

Q: Can I use store-bought masa dough instead of making it from scratch?
A: Yes, you can. However, homemade masa dough tends to have a better texture and flavor.

Q: Can I use vegetable oil instead of shortening or lard?
A: Vegetable oil can be used as a substitute, but keep in mind that it might slightly alter the taste and texture of the tamales.

Q: How can I tell if the tamales are done cooking?
A: The masa dough should be firm and cooked through. You can perform a quick test by gently pressing a tamale with your finger. If the dough springs back, it is cooked.

Q: Can I make sweet tamales?
A: Absolutely! Sweet tamales can be made by adding sugar, cinnamon, or even fruit preserves to the masa dough.

Q: Can I use aluminum foil instead of corn husks?
A: While it is possible to use aluminum foil as a substitute, it is best to stick to corn husks for that authentic taste and presentation.

Now that you have mastered the art of cooking tamales, gather your friends and family and enjoy this delicious and satisfying Mexican dish together.

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