Call Me Abuela

Many of the dishes I made during the week are not very involved. It may be 30 minutes of active cooking and prep work and total time of an hour. It is on the weekends that I get to make those dishes that are more involved and take the proper time to develop. As a result, I find that I am spending most of my Sunday in the kitchen. I think of all the old Italian grandmothers who spent many hours every day in the kitchen and think I am starting to morph into one of them.

This time there was a distinct Mexican theme, so call me Abuela….

Photo Dec 09, 5 24 46 PM

This was the first time I made tamales. They were pretty darn good.

Photo Dec 09, 1 40 55 PM

I found the corn husks in the “ethnic” aisle of the grocery store. I didn’t have California chile pods, so at first (and in the picture) I was going to use some Arbol chilies. Ultimately I had some sweet and hot red-hot peppers that I used.

Photo Dec 09, 1 45 00 PM

I sliced the pork loin in half to fit into the dutch oven.

Photo Dec 09, 4 19 31 PM

After two hours cooking, shredding and mixing with the pepper sauce.

Photo Dec 09, 4 26 58 PM

I halved the recipe that you see below. It says it makes enough for 16 tamales (8 for half) but those must be tiny. Mine made a solid 4.

Photo Dec 09, 4 29 46 PM

This part was much easier than I thought.

Photo Dec 09, 4 29 57 PM

Put the pork inside.

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Roll, fold, roll.

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Each tamale has two husks. I did not have a steamer, so I built one. I used my big metal roasting pan that I use for Thanksgiving turkeys, a small rack (to elevate off the bottom), a grill rack and some foil for the top. I put water in the bottom and put it on the stove over medium-low heat.

Photo Dec 09, 4 34 17 PM

Poke a few holes in the foil to let excess steam escape. I had to add water several times.

Photo Dec 09, 5 24 41 PM

These were pretty good. The Ranting Wife said she normally doesn’t like tamales, but liked these.

Real Homemade Tamales

Prep Time: 35 m | Cook Time: 3 h 35 m | Makes: 16 tamales


Tamale Filling:

  • 1 1/4 pounds pork loin
  • 1 large onion, halved
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 dried California chile pods
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Tamale Dough:

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup lard
  • 1 (8 ounce) package dried corn husks
  • 1 cup sour cream


Place pork into a Dutch oven with onion and garlic, and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the meat is cooked through, about 2 hours.

Use rubber gloves to remove stems and seeds from the chile pods. Place chiles in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, then remove from heat to cool. Transfer the chiles and water to a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture, stir in salt, and set aside. Shred the cooked meat and mix in one cup of the chile sauce.

Soak the corn husks in a bowl of warm water. In a large bowl, beat the lard with a tablespoon of the broth until fluffy. Combine the masa harina, baking powder and salt; stir into the lard mixture, adding more broth as necessary to form a spongy dough.

Spread the dough out over the corn husks to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Place one tablespoon of the meat filling into the center. Fold the sides of the husks in toward the center and place in a steamer. Steam for 1 hour.

Remove tamales from husks and drizzle remaining chile sauce over. Top with sour cream. For a creamy sauce, mix sour cream into the chile sauce.

PREP 35 mins

COOK 3 hrs

READY IN 3 hrs 35 mins

Nutritional Info:

Calories 236 kcal 12% Carbohydrates 12.6 g 4% Cholesterol 37 mg 12% Fat 16.6 g 26% Fiber 2.1 g 8% Protein 9.1 g 18% Sodium 401 mg 16%


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: kosher, Lunch2, Mexican, Pork, Recipes, Side Dish, snack

Author:The Ranting Chef

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9 Comments on “Call Me Abuela”

  1. March 28, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    Excelente, hombre.!

    I am proud of you. Love that steamer u made.

    I add cumin to the meat. And to add a bit of flavor and color to the dough, I add some of the juice from the chilis.


  2. March 28, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Dear Abuela,
    Being born and raised in South Texas, I’d been around awesome tamales my whole life. Until a few years ago, though, I’d never made any. When the Guadalupana Society (people who honor “Our Lady of Guadalupe”,the patroness of Mexico) at our church scheduled their Tamalada (an all day tamale-making extravaganza), I asked if I could come and help, learn, and take notes. They were thrilled and honored. I have since made tamales several times out of venison and wild pork. It was pretty labor-intensive but appreciated by all. I learned that manteca (lard) is the secret. It means “happiness”. (not really, but kinda).
    Congrats on your tamalada! You’ve inspired me to make a batch of my own.


  3. March 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Looks awesome! I may have to try and make this. Thanks for the follow!


  4. March 28, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    I didnt understand the part of two husks. Are they layerd on each other or does the second fit on the opposite end so there is no open hole?…sounds interesting and good to know. thank you!


    • March 28, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

      Yes. The husks are kind of a V shape, so I put the closed end of the V at each end to make it easier to “close”.


  5. March 28, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    Hmm, what’s masa harina? Wondering if this is gluten free.


  6. March 28, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    Haven’t eaten tamales in a long time – these look good!


  7. March 28, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    Reblogged this on El Mercado Del Pueblo and commented:


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