If you’ve got a craving for tamales you’re not alone. Tamales, made of masa (dough, usually corn-based) with filling, steamed in corn husks, have been eaten since at least 5000 BC, possibly as early as 8000 BC. The Mayan and Aztec civilizations both used them as portable food for hunters, armies and travelers. These days, tamales feature any number of fillings — even dessert — and you don’t have to eat them on the run. In fact, they’re the perfect treat for a Cinco de Mayo party in your backyard.
I asked Amanda “Tamale” Stallman, owner of Tamales by Amanda, if she’d share some of her tamale secrets. Tamales by Amanda is a growing sensation in Bowling Green, Ky. Amanda makes 60 dozen or more tamales every week to sell at a farmer’s market and restaurant, and will soon be shipping them. “Like” Tamales by Amanda on Facebook to learn more tamale tips and you’ll also be among the first to know when she’s ready to start shipping.
In the meantime, follow Amanda’s recipe for homemade Green Corn Tamales.
Green Corn Tamales
Makes 6-8 dozen
6-8 dozen corn husks
You should be able to find corn husks in the international section of grocery stores. Soak husks in warm water until you’re ready to fill them.
2 pounds frozen corn
2 pounds shredded Mexican blend cheese
16 ounces green chiles
1 pound (about 4 cups) corn flour (Amanda strongly recommends Maseca)
1 pound melted butter
4 cups milk
Mix together corn, cheese and green chiles. In a separate bowl, mix together corn flour, melted butter and milk. Add salt and pepper to taste and blend until creamy. Combine with cheese and chiles.
Masa (the dough)
2 pounds Maseca corn flour (about half a bag)
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon cumin
2 cups oil
6 cans of vegetable broth
Mix well. Add broth until the consistency is similar to peanut butter. Masa should be easily spreadable.
Assembling the tamales
You’ll be steaming your tamales, so start boiling the water now. One critical thing when steaming is to make sure the water doesn’t all boil away. Amanda’s trick: Put a penny in the water. If you hear it rattle around you’ll know it’s time to add more water.
For each tamale, lay a corn husk, rough side down, on a flat surface. Spread the masa in a thin layer on the corn husk, leaving empty space at the bottom. Add a handful of the filling. Roll the corn husk tightly, folding the bottom under. Some people tie their tamales, but Amanda just rolls hers.
Pack them tightly into the steamer basket, cover and steam for two hours. Give the tamales some time to set before trying to eat them. When they’re cool enough to pick up they’re ready to eat. Remove the corn husk before eating.
Other Cinco de Mayo recipes
- Citrus Margarita
- Grilled Cilantro-Lime Shrimp with Spicy Hass Avocado Puree
- Creamed Corn Empanadas with Orange-Honey Drizzle
- Burritas de Bistec Ranchero