Tamales aren't difficult to prepare, and the filling is limited only by your imagination and preference.
May 02, 2011
1 of 8Photo: Lee Harrelson
Traditionally, tamales are cooked in a tamalera, a metal pot with a steamer tray that can cook up to 6 dozen tamales. We found that you can achieve similar results with an oven method that doesn't require special equipment. Place up to 2 dozen tamales on a broiler rack lined with a damp towel, cover tamales with another damp towel, and place rack in a broiler pan filled with hot water to a depth of about 1/2 inch. (Use old towels if possible because they may discolor.)
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Look for specific ingredients at local supermarkets and Latin markets.
Masa harina: This flour is made from sun-dried corn kernels cooked in limewater, and then ground.Lard: You'll find lard, made from rendered pork fat, in refrigerated cases or the frozen foods section of some specialty markets. Our recipe for Basic Masa Dough uses just a touch of lard to bind and flavor the dough. If you can't find lard, you can use an equal amount of vegetable shortening.Dried corn husks: Used to wrap tamales and keep them moist while cooking, corn husks are not eaten. Other traditional wrappers include banana and plantain leaves.
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Weigh corn husks down; cover with water. Soak them at least 30 minutes.
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Shape about 3 tablespoons Basic Masa Dough into a rectangle, and spoon filling on top.
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Fold corn husk over, covering filling with dough.
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Fold husk over again.
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Fold bottom end of husk up and over tamale.
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Place tamales, seam sides down, on the rack of a broiler pan lined with a damp towel; cover. Cook as directed in recipe below.