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Tamale Making 101

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:) Secrets to Cooking TexMex" Tamale Making 101

(Makes approx. 7 dozen Large Tamales)




7 lbs. Boston Butt, cubed 1” in size

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 large bell pepper, diced

4 Tbl. Minced Fresh Garlic

3 Tbl. Fajita Seasoning

3 Tbl. ground cumin

3 Tbl. Gebhardt Chili Powder

8 cups Ancho Broth aka Tea (see recipe)

2 Tbl. Lard

1 Tbl. Salt

1 Tbl. Coarse Ground Black Pepper

It is best to cook your meat the day before so it has a chance to fully

absorb the flavors and spices.

It is also easier to place on the masa when it is cold.


8 cups water

6 large Ancho Chili Pods

First thing is to cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. While this is

heating put the Dried Ancho Pods on a cookie and put under a hot broiler for

10 seconds, turn over and put under broiler for another 10 seconds. Remove,

let cool and pull or cut stems off and shake out all seeds. Put into the pot of

water that is heating. When water begins to boil, remove from heat and let


45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the ancho pods and scrape the “ancho meat”

from the skin. Chop with a knife and set aside, reserve liquid. Wash hands with

soapy water immediately.


Start by cutting into cubes a 6-7 lb. Pork Shoulder, which is also known as “

Boston Butt”.

Put into a large bowl and sprinkle with the Fajita Seasoning. If time

permits, refrigerate overnight before cooking.

Into a large stew pot add the Lard and start adding the cubes. When meat is

brown, add the onion, bell pepper and garlic.

Next, add the ground cumin, Gebhardt Chili Powder, Salt and Pepper.

Stir well to mix the just added ingredients. Add enough of the Ancho Tea to

cover the meat, put lid on and simmer for 2 hours. If there is 'excess liquid'

use a ladle and remove and put in a bowl.

(You can add this to the Masa mixture for even more flavor)

Remove cover and let simmer another 30 minutes to 1 hour and stir to break up

the tender meat. Reduce heat to low and continue until all the meat is

shredded. Let cool and refrigerate overnight.


½-1 lb. Shucks depending on the quality

(2 lbs of quality shuck will yield 25-30 doz)

At least 2 hours before starting the tamales place the shucks in the sink or

an ice chest and cover with warm water. Check after 1 hour and add fresh warm

water if it has gotten cold. The shucks will tend to want to float so put a

heavy plate or pot filled with water on top to keep them submerged.


2 lbs. MASECA Corn Flour (approx 8 cups)

6 cups ANCHO Broth aka Tea (see recipe above) add “meat” back to broth

3 Tbl. Bolner’s Fajita Seasoning

1 Tbl. Salt

1 Tbl. Bolner’s ground cumin

1 Tbl. Gebhardt Chili Powder

1 lb. Lard, melted

2 Tbl. Baking Powder

Start by melting the Lard in a sauce pan.

Next, add the Corn Flour into a large mixing bowl (or electric mixer).

Add the spices blend to mix well. Next add the Ancho Tea or Water and again

mix well. Slowly add the melted lard and mix for several minutes.

The main idea here is to work air into the masa until it is moist and fluffy.

It is impossible to over mix.


Assemble the helpers around the kitchen table and everyone should have a flat

plate or tray and a butter knife, spatula, or masa spreader. Take an

unbroken shuck and place it on the tray in front of you, small end to the left. Using

a spatula, or masa spreader, dip into the prepared masa and take out

approximately one heaping tablespoon. Spread it on the shuck in such a way that it

covers the lower two-thirds of the right 4 inches of the shuck. The masa should

be thick enough so that you cannot see through to the shuck.

Next, spread some meat filling on the middle of the masa. The thickness of

the masa and meat filling is strictly personal preference. You decide how much

masa you would like around your filling. Think of other tamales you have

eaten and decide what you like best.

The tamale is then rolled over starting from the side with the masa and the

meat. The unspread side covers the outside and holds it together. The unfilled

end is then folded over to the middle.

Place the tamales on a cookie sheet with the folded end touching the cookie

sheet. After 1 layer is completed on the cookie sheet cover with a damp tea

towel to keep the shucks moist. When there are enough to fill the Tamale

Steamer Pot, fill the pot with water until just below the inside 'rack'. Place a

layer of shucks on the bottom and begin loading the steamer. The 'open' end

will be at the top and the 'folded' end on the bottom. Don't pack the tamales

too tight as they will need room to expand as they are cooking.

(A trick here is to place a coin in the bottom of the steamer. As long as

there is water in the pot the coin will 'click' and if it stops the water has

boiled away.) You may have to occasionally add water in order to keep the pot

from boiling dry.

Steam for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours then let them 'rest' about 15 minutes before

removing. The tamale tester gets to taste the first one. You may have to

occasionally add water to keep the pot from boiling dry.


The quickest way to reheat a tamale is to leave it in the shuck and microwave

for 15 seconds, turn over and 'zap' again for 15 seconds. The slower, but

better way is to steam them for 10 minutes. If your tamales are frozen, put

them in a steamer and once the steam begins set your timer for 25 minutes.


(If the meat filling runs out and you have some extra masa, bean tamales can

be made simply by substituting refried beans for the meat before rolling. A

thin slice of jalapeno or a strip of fried bacon can also be added to the beans.

Chicken filling can be made by boiling some chicken and seasoning with

comino, chili powder, garlic, and salt to taste.)

After cooking the tamales, they can be wrapped in aluminum foil and frozen

for up to 3 months. You can steam them right out of the freezer, about 20-30



2 lbs. Bacon, Fried Crisp, reserve drippings

2-15 oz. cans Rosarita Refried Beans, Traditional or Zesty.



2-15 oz. cans Rosarita Refried Beans, Traditional or Zesty

Also, pickled Jalapenos that have been cut into strips can be added for that

extra ”Zip” !!


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