I took a Tamale-Making class at our local Central Market with a few work friends. Our teacher was a Tamale EXPERT, Nettie Lopez. She and her family have been making, not only tamales, but beans, flan, guacamole and other authentic Mexican dishes for years and years-the recipes were passed down over the generations.
How lucky were we to actually get her recipes, and I’m sharing them with you!
(I apologize in advance for not putting the individual recipes on cards to print-working on that to have available in this post soon)
Nettie Lopez, Central Market Cooking School
2 cups masa harina (corn flour)
2 cups reserved broth from cooking meat
1 cup reserved fat from cooking meat
1 teaspoon salt
1 package dried corn husks
2 quarts boiling water
Tamale filling of your choice
- Rinse dried corn husks under running water and place in a deep bowl. Cover with the boiling water and weight husks with a small plate to keep them submerged.
- Place masa harina in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on low speed and add the reserved stock. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes.
- Gradually add salt and reserved fat and continue beating for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is soft and light.
- Drain corn husks and pat dry. Place a folded kitchen towel on work surface. Place one corn husk with the concave side up and spread about 2 T. of masa dough on the husk into a 2 ½”x3” rectangle, to the cut edge of the husk and all the way to the edge of the leaf closest to you.
- Top masa dough with about 1 ½ T. of the filling of your choice, ½ inch from the edge closest to you and down the 3 inch length of the dough.
- Roll tamale to enclose the filling, ending with a cigar shaped cylinder that is filled almost to the cut end and empty and pointed on the other. Fold the pointed end of the corn husk up over the seam towards the cut end. Tamale may be tied up with a strip of husk to keep it closed, if desired. Not necessary.
- Place tamales upright, standing them on folded ends, in the top of a steamer lined with 2 corn husks. Place over simmering water, with a double thickness of paper towels draped over the top of the pot or plastic wrap over the top and trapped between the pot edges and the lid to absorb condensation. Do not have the water boiling furiously in the bottom of the steamer of the tamales will be soaked. Merely bring the water to a full boil and turn it down to a simmer.
- Steam tamales, covered, until husks separate easily from the masa or about one hour. Be sure to check the water in the bottom every 15 min. or so, replenishing with more hot water. If the steamer boils dry, it will affect the taste of the tamales and ruin your pot.
- To fill the husks, use the back of a regular spoon to push onto husks.
- To roll tamales, bring up sides, don’t pinch, turn on side and pull tail up.
- Husks-soak in hot water 2 hrs and pat dry on towel and tear each husk in half lengthwise.
- Fill each husk “shirt” (the wide part) and leave “tail” unfilled.
- Be sure to spread out filling to fill in creases.
- You can use stockpot with vegetable steamer with 3 upside down small pyrex bowls.
- Saran wrap in 2 layers with a long strip going around the pot 2 times and tie in a knot
- Tamales CAN touch water (or water broth combination).
- You can place 2 quarters on bottom of pot, if you hear rattling you have enough liquid to steam.
- Esperaza’s on N. Main St. Ft. Worth has 10 lbs. masa premade and ready to spread.
- 8th across from Baylor-Pendery’s chili powder is best.
- To steam, ½ water and ½ broth. Then lard-Use KA mixer. You can slice up jalapenos to put in broth if you want to. The broth and jalapenos make the masa pretty and taste good.
- Make filling(s) one day and refrigerate.
- Make masa one day and fill husks. Stack filled husks on top of each other and steam another day.
- To thaw frozen tamales-use a plastic grocery sack and microwave or in a crockpot with about 1 t. of broth or water. Cook in crockpot on low 8 hrs or on high 5 hrs. About 1 inch liquid-not elevated standing up.
- Masa-you can freeze 6 months or refrigerate 3 days in freezer bags.
- You can refrigerate broth and fat on top of broth to use for masa.
- Add lard or Crisco to masa
Almaraz Family Tamale Filling
6 pounds pork butt, cut into 3-inch chunks
3 chickens, cut into parts
¼ cup salt
2 T. granulated garlic
½ cup Fort Worth Light Chile Blend (from Pendery’s)
- Put meat in a large stock pot and cover with water. Add the salt and granulated garlic. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cook for 1 ½ – 2 hours. Let cool completely or overnight.
- Skim fat off the surface of reserve for the masa. Save the broth for making masa also.
- Shred the meat, removing the bones, if necessary. Mix the shredded meat and chile blend. Add enough of the reserved broth just to cover the mixture.
- You can freeze the meat
1 pound pinto beans, soaked overnight, water removed
6 slices thick cut bacon, diced
1 cup onion, chopped
1 large jalapeno pepper, finely minced
1 can diced tomatoes
½ bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed
2 t. ground cumin
½ t. salt
¼ ta. Black pepper
½ cup beer
- In a 3 qt. saucepan, brown the diced bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Saute the onion, jalapeno and tomatoes in the bacon fat about 5 min. Add the cumin and cook a minute.
- Make sure the beans are just covered with liquid and not swimming in it. Add the beans, cooked bacon, cilantro and beer to the vegetables. Stir well and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and cover, stirring occasionally. Cover and continue to cook on low for ½ hour to blend flavors. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
Nettie’s Mexican Rice
2 cups long grain rice
4 cups chicken broth
1 bell pepper, chopped
½ onion, chopped
2 T. oil to fry rice
1 t. garlic granules
2 t. cumin
½ cup diced tomatoes
4 T. tomato paste
- Fry rice until toasty in oil. Set aside.
- Bring remaining ing. To boil in chicken broth. Add rice. Cover and bring to boil for 3-4 min.
- Cover, remove from heat and DO NOT touch or uncover for 20 min!
- Fold gently to mix vegetables before serving
Notes: All of liquid must be absorbed, so important not to lift lid
2 large ripe avocados, large diced
¼ cup purple onion, fine dice
¼ cup tomato, seeded and fine diced
1 t. lime juice
3 T. torn cilantro leaves (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and mash with a potato masher or fork to combine. Add more lime juice or seasonings.
Hot Nettie’s Sauce
2 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 T. granulated garlic
½ bunch cilantro, stems removed
1-2 jalapeno peppers
Salt to taste
- Add all to a blender and blend. Adjust seasonings. Serve with chips.