First-Time Tamales

I guess I did wait a long time to try my hand at tamales—I’m 70—but I have thought about them a lot. I just never did much steaming and that is what kind of kept me away from them, that and wondering where to get corn husks, which I ended up getting on Amazon. I followed the recipe on the ATK site, where I am a member, so I don’t know if you can view it here: Tamales. The membership is worth it for me, but you can see the ATK video below on YouTube, too. The recipe says you can get 18 tamales, and I got 15, which I consider a pretty close result.

I watched this video from America’s Test Kitchen several times before making the tamales, and it is worth watching just for the actual construction of each tamale:


In the past, I wondered if I could steam tamales in my bamboo steamer. I think I probably could, but I don’t know about timing, since that kind of steamer sits above the pot of water. Recently, I purchased the Cuisinart Multi-Cooker that I mostly use as a slow cooker, but one of its functions is steaming and I did find a recipe for tamales using that function. So, I used the ATK recipe and the steaming instructions from Cuisinart and it worked beautifully. I thought I might lose a lot of filling because the tamales are set on their side, not upright, but only a tiny bit of a few fell into the water, and I think that was from me overfilling them.

Instead of the chicken filling used by ATK, I used a portion of the carnitas I made a few days earlier, adding a sauce made from reconstituted ancho and guajillo chiles. Those are flavorful, but not hot chiles. That meat sauce was served as an accompaniment to the tamales. I now realize that I have never posted my carnitas recipe, but here’s a good one: Pati Jinich Carnitas.

I am still surprised at how easy it was to make these, although you better have a hefty food processor to mix up the dough. The use of thawed, frozen corn in the dough is a great idea that you can really taste in the finished product.


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