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May 022014
 May 2, 2014  Posted by  Features, Food, Hot Deals, Recipes
Tasia Markoff Photography

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.

The corn filling before adding the milk, butter and Maseca mixture

The corn filling before adding the milk, butter and corn flour mixture.

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.

Tamales, filled but not rolled. This photograph shows chicken filling.

Tamales, filled but not rolled. This photograph shows chicken filling.

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.

Tasia Markoff Photography

Tasia Markoff photography

Other Cinco de Mayo recipes

Jody Mace

Jody Mace is a freelance writer who has written for publications like O Magazine, Washington Post, and Parents. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and two teenaged kids. Her colleagues are dogs named Harlow and Shaggy. She publishes Charlotte on the Cheap and takes the “cheap” seriously. For fun she plays mandolin and browses at her local Goodwill Store, where she is “Foursquare Mayor,” as long as that Russell G. doesn’t steal it from her again. You can see her celebration of thrift store finds at Thrift Wrecks.

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