Thursday, November 15, 2007


I have the good fortune of having wonderful, generous friends. My Latina friend, Micaela was kind enough not only to spend a day showing me how to make tamales, but also shared her recipe and tamale making secrets. This was actually training day two. Micaela first showed me how to make tamales about a month and a half ago, when we made 13 dozen for my freezer. Well, needless to say, those 13 dozen are long gone. So we got together yet again for another tamale making. This time our friend, Lisa joined us and we made a triple batch. Wow, that was a lot of masa, as you will soon come to realize.

These are the flours that we used: 3 bags of tamale maseca flour (4.41lbs each) and 1/2 bag of tortilla maseca. Each of us prepared chicken in advance. We used about 25 lbs of chicken meat, mostly thighs and legs. I boiled mine in water, garlic, onion, spicy peppers, salt and peppercorns. Once the chicken was cooked, we removed the meat from the bone and shredded it. Micaela also prepared the chili sauce ahead of time. She used one big bag of dried guajillo peppers and another big bag of dried ancho chilies. She prepared the chili sauce by reconstituting the chilies and cooking them in water. She pulled off the tops, and shook out the seeds. Then she added a handful of cumin seed, some garlic, 1/2 an onion and ground pepper. All ingredients get blended and strained.
Spicy tomato sauce that is added to the masa.

Corn husks

These must also be prepared ahead of time by soaking them in water, and cleaning out the silk. M. separates them into bundles of a dozen.

Here is Micaela mixing all the masa flours and 17 ounces of baking powder that we added. We had to use a big tub in order to fit it all. After the flours are mixed, the chicken broth is added. We used 32 cups in this batch.

Next we added 8 cups chili sauce. Notice the deep red color. After adding the chili sauce, we also added 3 pounds of melted vegetable shortening.(And you thought these were heathly!) You can also use lard, in fact Micaela thinks that using lard gives it more flavor.Micaela is mixing the chili sauce and tomato sauce into the masa.

Micaela mixed and kneaded the dough over and over. She got quite the workout! The way to tell if the dough is ready is by making a ball and flattening it on the back of your hand. If you can see a shiny spot on your hand where the dough was, then it's ready.

These are the finished masa patties.

Next, the patties are placed inside the corn husks and flattened in this cool tortilla press. This one is homemade and was given to Micaela from her mom. Once the masa is flattened, a tablespoon of chicken (which has been mixed with the remaining chili sauce) is place in the center of the masa. The ends are folded over each other, and husk is closed and folded as well. Below is the finished product.
We wrapped the tamales by the dozen in foil so they are ready to freeze. We ended up with 26 dozen tamales. However, we ran out of chicken and had about 150 dough patties left over. Micaela took them home and made another 13 dozen tamales. So the grand total was 39 dozen tamales! Phew! That was a lot of work!

Before eating the tamales, you must first steam them for about 45 minutes until they solidify. They are absolutely delicious and definitely worth all the time and effort! Thanks Mica!


Anonymous said...

I am all ready through two of my 8 dozen and it's only been a few days!

Just checking out your blog makes me want to go steam some more...and I'm not even hungry!


Esmerelda said...

This was really interesting. Nice job!


Steph said...

These are SOOOO yummy and delicious!