Sunday, July 29, 2012


This week's recipe is my (Matthew=Mateo) own version of Tamales.  A number of Latin-American countries have their own versions of Tamales.  Most Americans are familiar with the Mexican Tamal (The singular is Tamal, not TamalE).  In Venezuela, there is a typical Christmas dish called Hallaca, which is basically a Tamal wrapped in banana leaf, instead of corn husk.  I have eaten tamales filled with meat, fruit, beans and a number of other fillers.  The basic idea is the construction of the dish.  This recipe is a hybrid of a few different types of tamales that I have had over the years.  There are elements from different countries in this recipe.

One note about my recipe is that I use foil instead of corn husk for the wrapping.  This was a trick I learned from a friend at Cristo Rey, a church I attended in Chicago for a couple of years.  I know how to do this with corn husk, but it's really time consuming and doesn't add anything to the dish as far as I can tell.


For the Masa (Dough):

4 c. Very Warm Water

1 T. Salt

1 T. Corn or Canola Oil

3/4 c. or one ear of Corn

Because I just can't do things the easy way!

2 c. Precooked Corn Flour
*Don't use a course corn meal, or it won't absorb the water.  A brown corn flour works, but the best kind I have found are two Venezuelan brands.  There is a way to make it from corn and from corn meal, but it's another thing that's rather complex.  Perhaps another day.

Most common/popular brand - white corn

My favorite brand - yellow corn
For the Filling:

2 T. Corn or Canola Oil

1/2 med. Yellow Onion - Chopped

2 sm. Chile Peppers - minced

1 c. Vegetables of your choice - Chopped

3/4 c. or one ear of Corn

1 c. Beans - any kind - boiled and drained

2 cloves of Garlic - Minced

1 T. Chile Powder

1 t. Cumin

Salt - to taste (if desired)


1.  To make the filler, heat 2 T. of Oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Sauté the Onion, adding the Garlic, Chile Powder, Cumin and Salt.  When the Onions begin to soften, add the Chiles.  Then add the Vegetables and 3/4 c. Corn.  Sauté over med-low heat until they soften, stirring occasionally.

2.  While the vegetables are sautéing, put 4 c. of Hot/Warm Water in a medium to large mixing bowl.  Add 1 T. of Oil and 1 T. Salt.  Then, add the 3/4 c. or Corn.  Next, stir the water with your hand, and slowly mix in the Corn Flour, stirring, then kneading it until it gets to be a sticky, doughy

Mixing flour into water/corn mixture

Kneading the masa

What it should look like

3.  Add the beans to the sautéing filler.  Stir the filler well, and let it cook for apx. 1 minute.  Then, remove from heat.

4.  Put a large pot on the stove on high, about 2/3 full of water.  Heat it to boiling

5.  While the water is boiling, cut about a 12" long sheet of aluminum foil.  Press apx. 1/2 c. of masa onto the foil to where it's about a 1/4" thick.

6.  Put 1/3 c. of filling onto the masa.  Then cover filling with another layer of masa, trying to seal the filling completely inside of the masa.

It doesn't have to be pretty at this point.

7.  Fold the aluminum foil up over the filled masa, so that the two edges are together.  Then, fold one edge over the other a few times, until the foil is wrapped tightly around the masa, like a tube.  Next fold the ends of the foil tube in, until the masa is completely wrapped tightly into the foil.

This is what I mean

This is what it should look like wrapped.

8.  Repeat steps 6 & 7 until the masa is completely used up.  It should make 4 to 5 tamales. 

9.  When the water in the pot is boiling rapidly, drop the tamales into the boiling water.  Boil for 20 - 25 minutes.  At least once, turn them over, while they are boiling, so that they cook evenly.  A good indicator that they're done is when the aluminum foil turns brown.

10.  Unwrap the Tamales, and serve.  Be careful, because they are very hot!



  1. Just a note. Today I discovered Goya has a precooked corn flour called "Masarepa" if you can't find the brands pictured.

  2. Just a note: I wish you lived close enough you could cook dinner for us every night! :0)