Hot Tamales

Total Time:
5 hr 45 min
1 hr
45 min
4 hr

4 to 5 dozen tamales

  • For the meat filling:
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly toasted and ground cumin seed
  • 2 pounds Boston butt meat, untrimmed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • For the wrappers:
  • 4 to 5 dozen dried corn husks
  • For the cornmeal dough:
  • 2 pounds yellow cornmeal, approximately 6 cups
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 7 1/2 ounces lard, approximately 1 cup
  • 3 to 4 cups reserved cooking liquid
For the meat filling:

In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, kosher salt, paprika, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper and cumin. Divide the mixture in half and reserve 1 half for later use.

Cut the Boston butt into 6 even pieces and place into a 6 to 8-quart saucepan. Add half of the spice mixture and enough water, 3 to 3 1/2 quarts, to completely cover the meat. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the meat is very tender and falling apart, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove the meat from the cooking liquid to a cutting board. Leave the cooking liquid in the pot. Both meat and liquid need to cool slightly before making dough and handling. Remove any large pieces of fat and shred the meat into small pieces, pulling apart with your hands or using 2 forks.

Place a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat and add the vegetable oil. Once shimmering, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are semi-translucent, approximately 3 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeno, and remaining half of the spice mixture and continue to cook for another minute. Add the meat and cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

For the wrappers:

While the meat is cooking, place the husks in a large bowl or container and submerge completely in hot water. Soak the husks until they are soft and pliable, at least 45 minutes and up to 2 hours.

For the dough:

Place the cornmeal, salt, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and combine. Add the lard and using your hands, knead together until the lard is well incorporated into the dry mixture. Gradually add enough of the reserved cooking liquid, 3 to 4 cups to create a dough that is like thick mashed potatoes. The dough should be moist but not wet. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and set aside until ready to use.

To assemble the tamales:

Remove a corn husks from the water and pat dry to remove excess water. Working in batches of 6, lay the husks on a towel and spread about 2 tablespoons of the dough in an even layer across the wide end of the husk to within 1/2-inch of the edges. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture in a line down the center of the dough. Roll the husk so the dough surrounds the meat, then fold the bottom under to finish creating the tamale. Repeat until all husks, dough and filling are used. Tie the tamales, around the center, individually or in groups of 3, with kitchen twine.

To cook the tamales:

Stand the tamales upright on their folded ends, tightly packed together, in the same saucepan used to cook the meat. Add the reserved broth from making the dough and any additional water so the liquid comes to 1-inch below the tops of the tamales. Try not to pour the broth directly into the tops of the tamales. Cover, place over high heat and bring to a boil, approximately 12 minutes. Remove the lid, reduce the heat to low, to maintain a low simmer, and cook until the dough is firm and pulls away easily from the husk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Serve the tamales warm. For a 'wet' hot tamale, serve with additional simmering liquid. Store leftover tamales, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, in the freezer, for up to a month. To reheat, remove the plastic wrap and steam until heated through.

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4.5 45
I made these last Christmas. First time making tamales and they came out great! I'm doin it again tomorrow. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Corn meal? Really? item not reviewed by moderator and published
I didn't make the full tamale, I made it just for the meat to use in my tacos. I didn't have jalapeno nor toasted cumin but I just used regular cumin (no jalapeno). For the water I soften a California dried pepper (or Mexican) They are the dried dark red peppers. I soaked it, removed the seeds and put the water you use to cover the meat while cooking in a blender, added the pepper and blended, then added to the meat and cooked it. I use some of the water that was extra after the meat was cooked I used to cook the rice, using only the extra flavored water from meat. I chopped onions, garlic, fried the dry rice until brown, put it in my rice cooker adding cilantro to it and cooked. Excellent item not reviewed by moderator and published
Here's an interesting tip: Double up on the dough portion of this recipe. From the extra dough, scoop out ⅓ cup portions.Take half of these portions and store in the 'fridge. Take the other half and wrap to freeze. Now, any time you want, take a ⅓ cup portion and cut it in half. Flatten each half into a flat, level disk. Add a little of any filling you want then top with the other half, pressing the disk edges to seal. Now, toss a filled disk on a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat. Check the bottom every 2 minutes or so. When it JUST start to brown (about 2-3 minutes, flip and repeat on the other side. You just made an El Salvadorean pupusa! item not reviewed by moderator and published
As others have written, this was a lot of work but mostly in the assembly. I probably used less than half of the package of husks. I was concerned that the meat filling would be too spicy, but the outer corn breading neutralizes the heat. These are very different than the tamales in a jar my mom loved. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Fantastic! Never made tamales before, but when we bit into one of these my wife turned to me and said "that's what a tamale is supposed to taste like!" I confess we only did the meat mixture- we used the masa recipie on the side of the bag for the corn flour- but wow, what a filling! I think where this really shines is how you never miss a chance to add flavors- we did simmer the tamales in the broth rather than steam and I think it really added an extra depth to them. And not really that difficult. I do agree with one earlier reviewer that you need to let the tamales cool a bit after they come out of the broth in order to firm up a bit- otherwise they will be soggy. This filling goes on the "all-purpose" list for pork tacos, enchiladas, nachos, you name it. Too good to not use more often! item not reviewed by moderator and published
This recipe is awesome. I made them once on a whim and my family fell in love! Now ....Chrismas...tamales? ....Thanksgiving...tamales? ....President's Day...tamales? : It's getting out of hand item not reviewed by moderator and published
The meat mixture is out of this world! I used it with my favorite tamale recipe using masa harina and steaming. I also slow cooked the meat in a slow cooker all day rather than in the oven. Absolutely loved the taste of the cooking liquid in the masa mixture. Will be making this again in the future! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Wonderful recipe! For those confused by the use of cornmeal, these are Mississippi Hot Tamales from the Delta. They are also simmered instead of steamed like most tamales. And, as mentioned in the recipe, it is custom to serve them "wet" with the simmering sauce. Excellent! There is a site called the tamale trail that is worth looking at for more information about this variety of tamales. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Great meat recipe but I too used maza flour instead of corn meal. Thanks for the details in the cooking and prep process. Some recipes fall short in that area but not this one! item not reviewed by moderator and published

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