June 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Posted in Food | 2 Comments
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My husband’s grandmother taught me how to make tamales a few years ago.  It is a little time consuming, but they are delicious and the recipe makes a huge batch of tamales so its well worth the extra time and effort required.  My sister was visiting this week, so I decided to make a batch of tamales since they go much quicker with two people rolling them out.

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 2 onions
  • 2 (10 ounce) cans rotel (diced tomatoes in green chilies)
  • 1 cup cornmeal (for filling)
  • 2 cups cornmeal (for rolling)
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 4 garlic cloves (or 1/4 cup minced garlic)
  • 8 (7 ounce) cans tomato sauce (for the sauce)
  • 5 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/4 cup salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup oil (for the sauce)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder (for the sauce)

First you will want to mix all of the ingredients together, except for the 2 cups of cornmeal, 1/4 cup oil, and 8 cans of tomato sauce.  I mixed the veggies and spices together in my food processor, chopping them quite fine.  Then I threw everything else into a big bowl and mixed it up.

I set up an empty baking pan with a rim to hold the finished tamales, and a smaller pan with a rim to pour 1 cup of the corn meal into.  I poured the remaining cup of cornmeal into a measuring cup so I could get more if needed without having to wash my hands.  I use tamale paper, but you could also use corn husks.

Grab a chunk of the meat mixture and roll it into a golf sized ball.

Roll the meat ball in the cornmeal, getting as thick of a coating as you can.  Roll the tamale in the paper wrapper.

Fold the two ends of the tamale wrapper over each other, and then fold under the tamale.

Stack the tamales in a large pot, leaving room for liquid to surround each tamale.  You may need two pots.

Cover the tamales with tomato sauce and the 1/2 cup of oil, and bring to a boil.  At this point I deviated from the recipe from my husband’s mawmaw – I just couldn’t use that much tomato sauce that would eventually just be thrown out.  I used 2 cups of tomato sauce, and the rest was water.  The tamales absorb lots of liquid, and I thought the tomato sauce I used added plenty of flavor without wasting so much.

After the sauce reaches a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 hours.  You will need to add more liquid during cooking, as the corn meal will absorb a lot.  The meat will be done cooking after 30-40 minutes, but you need at least 2 hours for the cornmeal to soften and cook into a moist crust.  (I know this because we tried to eat some after 40 minutes.)

They aren’t the prettiest things, but they are delicious!  The leftover tamales store wonderfully in the fridge – I leave the wrappers on and pack them into freezer bags.  To reheat warm 2-3 for 90 seconds in the microwave.

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  1. Can you use parchment paper? Tamale wrappers are scarce in WV. Lol you know I love your random recipes and crafts. ;)

    • I think you probably could – they are 6-8″ squares. I found the papers and corn husks online, but didn’t fish through to find a good price…

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