I remember making them many times with my mom when I was still at home. I have attempted them myself on a couple occasions, but you really need "the village" to pull off this dish well.
But they're sooooooooo good. I love the polenta-like consistency of the tamal dough after it is steamed and then you get the wonderful goodness of what's been stuffed inside. All covered in a fragrant, tasty red chile sauce.
I figured out a way to make them... easy. I still think the traditional way of using corn husks is way superior, but this enables me to make tamales on a week night.
Now doesn't that look tasty? And it's all in a
stuff your face with as many as you can convenient portioned size.
It's made with a basic masa harina (corn flour) mix, formed in cups and filled with your favorite tamale ingredients and baked in a bain marie (water bath-baby!), so that the masa stays nice and creamy and puffs a little.
2 cups masa harina-found in almost any grocery store in the International section.
3 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin and garlic powder
pinch of salt
1 cup of warm water
2 cups of prepared Pinto or black beans
2 cups of red chile simmered pork, chicken, beef(optional)
1 cup of cheese
(see the beauty of this is you can use what ever you like: corn, green chiles, taco meat, shredded cooked chicken....)
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Prepare the masa in a bowl adding in the oil, cumin, garlic powder, salt and warm water. Mix with your hands until you get the consistency of a slightly sticky dough (if too sticky add small amounts of regular flour. Cover, to rest and let the masa hydrate.
- Meanwhile prepare six 6-8 oz. cups, like custard or baking cups and spray with non-stick spray and place in a baking pan or dish large enough to hold all of them.
- Heat 3 cups of water to a boil.
- Place about 2 tbsp of the beans in the each of the cups and cover with the red chile shredded pork.
- Pour the water into the pan (not in the cups, around them) going to the side of the cups up to about an inch, cover the entire pan with foil.
- Carefully place the pan in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Remove the foil and sprinkle the cheese over the cups and return to the oven for 8 minutes or until the cheese is melty and bubbly.
- Serve. Careful!!! The cups are very hot, use tongs and or mitts.