THE tamales they are a very popular dish of the Mexican cuisine: they are prepared especially on holidays. It is about rolls with at the base a corn flour dough and with the most varied fillings. There recipe is challenging, but we are sure you will enjoy experiencing it.
- 500 g of white corn flour
- 180 g of lard
- 6 g of instant baking powder
- 300 g of precooked sweet corn
- 1 liter of hot water
- 8 g of fine salt
- 24 dried corn leaves
For about 24 tamales
- 500 g of pork leg
- 1 clove of garlic
- 3 dried peppers type Poblano or Ancho
- 2 g of black pepper
- dried oregano
- 6 g of cumin
- seed oil
For the stuffing
A recipe that cannot be missing in a narration of Mexican cuisine is undoubtedly that of tamales.
Probably little known to the general public before the advent of the Disney animated film Coco, set in Mexico and full of references to food, tamales are a kind of rolls prepared with a white cornmeal dough and that can be stuffed with meat, vegetables or fish depending on the place of origin. This typical flour is the basis of many Mexican and South American preparations (from tortillas to the burrito) and you can find it in ethnic shops or even online, choosing either Pan Bianca or Maseca.
The version of the tamales that we present is that of Antonieta Ruiz, a lady of Mexican origins who has lived in Italy for many years and who has prepared hers with us family recipe. He told us that tamales are mainly eaten in holidays and that for this reason they are always made in large quantities, so much so that they are “counted in the dozen”. So don’t be surprised if we give you the ingredients to make the beauty of 24 tamales at home.
Characteristic of this preparation is the dried corn leaf which acts as a wrapper and which must be hydrated for an hour in water at room temperature before being used. If you do not find it online – because in fact it is not very simple – in the recipe you will also find a way to replace it with parchment paper.
The recipe itself is not difficult, but you have to apply: pay particular attention to cooking, which is the most delicate moment. Traditionally, tamales are cooked in one very deep pot with a perforated insert that slips into the pot and allows you to create a double bottom. If you don’t have it, do as we do and use a steamer basket for cooking vegetables instead of the insert that is roughly the same diameter as the pot.
You can serve the tamales as starter or at a Mexico-themed dinner, along with fried quesadillas and pan de maiz.
OTHER MEXICAN RECIPES: Corn soup, Champurrado
How to prepare: Tamales
- Preparation time
- 60 min
- Cooking time
2h and 30 min
- Soaking time
- Rest time
How to prepare: Tamales
Start preparing the tamales starting with the meat that will serve as a filling. Immerse the pork leg in water and cook covered for at least 50 minutes together with the salt, oregano and garlic. In the meantime, dedicate yourself to the tamales dough. In a large bowl, collect the flour, baking powder, salt and mix.
Gradually add water with the help of a ladle and mix until the dough is solid, but not smooth. Now add the pre-cooked corn previously blended and mix. Cover with a cloth and let it rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Add the lard lightly worked with a spoon to soften it and knead, pouring some of the remaining hot water. The result will be a soft and smooth dough, creamy in consistency. You can try to take a small part of it and place it on the back of your hand. When you remove it, nothing should remain stuck on the skin. Once the meat is ready, put it on a cutting board keeping its broth. The meat will be very tender: cut it into strips.
Take the peppers and with a sharp knife cut them in two and remove the seeds. Put them to boil for a few minutes in a saucepan and then blend them with the cumin and pepper. You can find this type of pepper online or in ethnic shops and it is mildly spicy.
At this point, put a few tablespoons of oil in a pan, pour the slightly spicy sauce just obtained and lengthen it by adding a little of the meat broth. Also add the meat, mix and let it absorb all the liquid. Let it cool completely.
Now is the time to assemble the tamales: since the corn leaves may not be easily available, we will show you how to make them even with parchment paper. The procedure is the same: open the corn leaf left to soak for an hour and well dried and spread two generous spoons of corn mixture on about half of the surface.
Add the meat filling, distributing it in a vertical line over the dough towards the center.
Close the leaf on itself lengthwise, compacting well with the palm of your hand. Fold the unfilled part of the leaf down to create a roll with one end open and the other sealed.
Do this until all the dough and the filling are finished. To cook the tamales: Place an upside down steamer basket in the bottom of a deep saucepan, leaving space in the bottom of the pot. Spread on the base of the corn leaves and arrange your tamales vertically, in a circle, with the open side facing up.
Make a central space (we used a pastry cutter) and pour two cups of lightly salted water. Cover with a few corn leaves or with a clean cloth and a tightly sealed lid. First cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes and then for another 40-45 minutes over low heat.
Do not open until this time has passed, as cooking could be compromised. Check it out only now: take a roll and check that the dough easily detaches from the leaf or parchment paper wrapping and remains compact, without falling apart. If so, the tamales are ready, otherwise continue to cook with the pot covered. When serving, you can leave the tamales in the leaf or remove them.