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!
Sinaloa Style Tamales
- large pot with lid
- metal steamer basket
- aluminium foil
- large bowl for the masa
- large table spoon
To cook the meat
- 500 g beef brisket
- 250 g pork shoulder joint
- 1 bone marrow
- 2 tomatoes cut in half
- 1 white onion peeled
- 2 garlic cloves peeled
- 1 tbsp salt
- water enough to cover the meat
For the guajillo sauce
- 9 dried guajillo chillies deseeded & stems off
- hot boiling water to soak the chillies
- cooked vegetable from the meat
For the Guisado
- cooked beef brisket shredded
- cooked pork shoulder joint shredded
- 2 medium tomatoes roughly chopped
- ½ medium white onion thinly sliced
- ½ green pepper cut in thinly slices
- ½ cup guajillo sauce
- ½ cup beef broth
- 1 tsp salt
For the Masa (dough)
- 700 g Mexican corn flour nixtamalized white corn flour
- remains of beef broth
- remains of the guajillo sauce
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 200 ml melted pork lard or vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp salt
- warm water
- 1 large potato peeled & cut in thin sticks.
- 2 large carrots peeled & cut in thin sticks
- 1 large courgette cut in thin sticks
- 30 green olives pitted
- 15 pickled jalapeños slices
- 40 corn husk leaves large size
Cooking the Meat
- In a casserole dish place the pieces of meat with the tomatoes, onion, garlic cloves and bone marrow. Add the salt and add water until the meat is covered.
- Place in a preheat oven to 180 C and cook for 2 hrs or until the meats are very tender.
- Separate the meats and shred them and set aside, ready to be use in the guisado.
- Remove the vegetable from the broth and set aside, ready to be use in the guajillo sauce.
- Pass the broth through a sieve to remove any impurities and set aside, ready to use in the masa and Guisado.
Making the Guisado
- Use a large frying pan. Heat the oil and add the roughly chopped tomatoes, sliced onions and green pepper.
- After 7 min add the shredded beef and cook for 5 min more. Then add some of the guajillo sauce to give some flavour. Taste if it needs salt and cook for 5 more min and set aside.
- Then add the meat broth and salt. Taste if it needs salt and cook for 5 more min and set aside.
Preparing the extra ingredients
- Cut the potato and cover with water so it doesn't go dark. Then cut the carrots and the courgette the same way as the potatoes. Have all the vegetables ready in bowls, as well as the olives and pickled jalapeños.
- Soak the corn husk leaves in hot water for around 20 minutes. 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.
Making the Masa (dough)
- To make the dough you will need a large bowl. Place the corn flour in the large bowl and add the baking powder and mix.
- Melt the pork lard and add it to the corn flour, then using a spatula, mix the flour, so all the lard or oil gets absorb into the flour.
- Add the rest of the meat broth and the guajillo sauce and mix. Then add some salt and mix very well until all the ingredients are perfectly combined.
- The dough will tell you if it needs more water, it has to be soft and not sticky, taste the dough for salt, if it needs salt add it at this stage. Then set aside.
Making the Tamales
- Using a table spoon, take a large corn husk leaf and add some masa (dough) and using the back of the spoon, spread it over the centre.
- Add a tbsp of beef Guisado, one stick 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. Tied an extra string in the middle for the tamales that will have a jalapeño chilli in it.
Cooking the Tamales
- Add around 1 litre of hot water to the pot. To cook the tamales, place the metal steamer basket at the bottom of the pot and then using some extra corn husk leaves, place them over the steamer basket.
- Then place the tamales on top of each other until the pot is full. Seal it with aluminium foil and place the lid. Making sure the steam won't escape. Cook for 10 minutes to high heat and then turn the heat down to minimum and cook for 50 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and let the tamales cool down for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and take one tamal, remove the corn husk and enjoy it.
- These tamales are perfect partners for a frijoles puercos. Enjoy them with family and friends.