I think everybody in the world has a family recipe, a recipe that it is very special, a recipe that nobody else does or knows and this is the case of my tamale recipe. It belongs to my mum’s family and it has been with us for generations.
It made me feel very proud to belong to a family with so many Mexican traditions, especially food traditions. El inglés, my husband, says that to see my aunties cooking in the kitchen is like watching a scene of the Matrix movie, one cooking the beans, while the other one is chopping vegetables and the other one is preparing the salsa, etc, so you can imagine how my childhood was, always eating very good food.
It took me a while to decide to put the recipe on my blog because as it doesn’t belong to me, I was waiting for permission to share it with you.
This recipe is only done in my family for very special occasions, like Christmas, New Year’s Eve or birthdays and when we do tamales at my mum’s house, we tend to do lots, when I say lots, I mean we make around 150 to 200 tamales, but here in London I only made a few for me and my small family.
It is quite laborious recipe, so be prepared to be busy in the kitchen for a while, but once the tamales are done, you will love them and would want to make them all the time.
So let’s start!
Makes around 30 tamales
To cook the meat
- 250 gr skirt beef and 250 gr pork meat
- 1 L water
- 2 or 3 pieces of bone marrow
- 3 small tomatoes cut in half
- 1 medium onion cut in half
- 2 small cloves of garlic peeled
- Salt to taste
For the California Chili sauce
- 8 dried California chillies or New Mexico, deseeded and cooked in water for 5 min.
- The tomatoes, onion, garlic and some beef stock from when you cooked the meat.
- Some of the beef stock from the meat
For the Guisado (beef filling)
- Shredded beef (the beef you cooked)
- 50 ml of beef stock
- 2 big tomatoes chopped in thin semi slices.
- 1 medium onion julienne
- 1 green pepper julienne
- Some California Chili sauce
- Salt to taste
For the maseca dough
- 1 kg maseca
- 250 ml luke warm water
- 250 ml beef stock
- 350 ml California Chili sauce
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 200 gr pork lard melted
- Salt to taste
- 1 large potato julienne
- 1 large carrot julienne
- 1 large courgette julienne
- A small jar of olives pitted
- A small jar of jalapeños
- Corn husk leaves
- Cooking the meat: In a casserole dish put the piece of meat with the tomato, onion, garlic, bone marrow and salt to taste and add water until the meat is covered. Cook for 20, while is cooking remember to remove the impurities (the frothy broth that forms on top). When the meat is cooked, remove it from the broth, leave the beef broth aside and shred the beef with your hands or with the help of a fork. When it is all thinly shredded, cut it into small pieces and set aside.
- Cooking the Guisado (beef filling): Use a big frying pan. Heat the oil and add the tomatoes, onions and green pepper. After 7 min add the shredded beef and cook for 5 min more. Then add some of the California chili sauce to give some flavour. Use 50 ml of the beef stock, add a spoon of maseca flour and add it to the Guisado. Taste if it needs salt and cook for 5 more min and set aside.
- Preparing the extra ingredients: Chop the potato and cover with water so it doesn’t darken, chop the carrots and the courgettes the same way as the potatoes. Have all the ingredients ready and put them aside. Soak the corn husk leaves in water for around 1 to 2 hours so they are manageable. Once they have been soaking for a while, separate the large leaves from the small ones. You will use the large leaves to wrap the tamales and the small ones to make strings.
- Preparing the dough: To prepare the maseca dough you will need a big bowl. Melt the pork lard either in the microwave or on the hove. Have the ingredients ready to get them mix in the big bowl. Add some of the luke warm water and mix, then the rest of the California chili sauce and the rest of the beef broth. Work the dough until all the liquid has been absorbed then start adding The piel lard and continue mixing. The dough will tell you if it needs more water, it has to be firm and not sticky, taste the dough for salt, if it needs salt add it at this stage.
- Assemble the tamales: Take a large corn husk leaf and add some masa (dough) and spread it over the leaf, you can do it with the help of a back of a table spoon or with your hands. Add some beef Guisado, one or two sticks of each vegetable, one olive and a jalapeño slice. Wrap the filling with the corn husk leaf and tie a knot at each end with the corn husk leaf strings you made earlier. Repeat the procedure for each tamal until you run out of dough.
- To cook the tamales: You can get a special tamal casserole or you can improvise one, like I did. On the bottom of the pan put 1L water with salt, put a little ramekin up side down and a plate on top of the ramekin, lay some leftover corn husk leaves then lay the tamales like in the picture, covered them with some more leftover leaves and close the pan very well (very tightly).
Cook with high heat for 10 min then turn down the heat very low and cook for 1 hour and 30 min. Before turning the heating off, make sure they are cook, take a tamal out, give 2 min to cool down first, cut the strings, open it and if it comes out of the leave easily, that means that is cooked if not, continue cooking for 30 more min and check again until cooked.
- You can find all the ingredients in www.mexgrocer.co.uk or www.coolchile.co.uk
- I have seen a tamal casserole pot on Amazon for around £30
- Any questions don’t hesitate to send me a message.