Tamales! Our New Favorite Comfort Meal!

Tell people you have invited for dinner that you are serving tamales, and they will think party!   The reason people think that tamales are party food is that most families that make their own tamales, only make them for the holidays.  And they make dozens and dozens of them. But, tamales are my new comfort, gluten-free dinner. I did a lot of research and got a local woman to teach me somethings about making tamales.  She and her sisters make about 12 dozen in December every year.  They roast the meat, make the meat sauce (a mole), and often roast their own chiles for the stuffing.  Then, there is preparing the corn husk wrappers and the cornmeal dough (masa) that wraps the meat in the tamales.  Every area of Mexico and all the descendants have their own variations on the ingredients.  Now, so do I!

First, I roasted about a 4 pound pork shoulder with only a rub, then pulled the pork.  I added a can of mild chiles and some store-bought enchilada sauce just to moisten the meat filling.  I bought the corn husks at the grocery store. Mine cost about $6.00.  Amazon has them from $5 to $50.  Don’t spend more than $12.00.  Many national grocery stores now carry the corn husks and the masa harina corn flour in the same aisle where you can buy refried beans and tacos.   If you have a Mexican grocer near you, ask for these supplies there–much more reasonable!   All I had to do was soak the husks in warm water about an hour.  This is the recipe for the tamale dough that I make so I know it is gluten-free.  To serve, I have additional enchilada sauce and hot chiles for those who can eat hot stuff!  Not me!

Tamales! Our New Favorite Comfort Meal!
  • ½ pound corn husks
  • 1½ cups shortening (original recipe used lard--I used Crisco shortening)
  • 4 cups masa harina--an instant corn flour available at many grocery stores
  • ½ cup Baking Free™gluten-free All Purpose Flour (62 g)
  • 2 tablespoons Baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2⅔ cups water or chicken or beef broth
  1. Soak the corn husks in warm water until flexible, about 1 hour.
  2. Whip shortening with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Combine masa harina, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add water (or broth) and mix to combine.
  4. Beat flour mixture, a little at a time into the shortening. Beat until light and fluffy.
  5. Drain corn husks. Pat dry with paper towel.
  6. Lay soaked corn husks flat on work surface with point away from you. Husk should measure 6 X 8-inches for best results.
  7. Spread about 2 tablespoons dough on husk, starting at the left edge. Spread to the bottom and leave about 1 inch without dough on the right edge.
  8. Place about 2 tablespoons filling down the center of the dough. Bring right edge to left edge and flip point down. turn tamale up. Tamale dough and filling should show at the top and the fold should be at the bottom. Make 12-24 tamales in this manner.
  9. Steam tamales, standing with fold at bottom and opening at top, in a steamer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Test for doneness: Remove 1 tamale from the center of the stack
  10. They should be firm and the masa should pull away from the husk easily. A final test is to taste them They should not have a doughy and raw flavor. Dough recipe can make 48 tamales.
  11. If yo do not want to make all of them at one time, freeze remaining dough for about 1 month.
  12. Serve tamales warm with additional enchilada sauce.