NOTE ON QUANTITY: Using a standing steamer pot (like the ones people make spaghetti in), was able to fit 25 tamales, which used a dough containing about 4 C masa harina (i.e. half batch of masa per below). A half batch, or 25 tamales, requires about 4-5 C of cooked filling.
For the full 8 cups of masa harina, make sure you either have two large pots (to steam both at once) or are planning for 2 sessions of steaming (2 hrs each).
PREPARATION: suggest making the fillings ahead. You can reserve extra meat dishes in the freezer, just remember to start thawing in the fridge the day before. That way you aren't making fillings and the masa and the tamales the same day.
Start soaking the corn husks early (even overnight is fine- they don't seem to "oversoak"). This makes them more pliable. Remember to rinse them and then set aside for forming the tamales.
Couple good references on tamales:
Beat 2 Cups butter (or use lard if you can find non-hydrogenated) in a stand mixer until fluffy (color will lighten and it will stick to the sides of the mixer a bit).
In a separate bowl, combine:
8 C masa harina (the package will say "tamale" somewhere. this is NOT corn flour or corn meal)
4 tea salt
8 C liquid. Use a mixture of broth and water (I used chicken broth, but veggie broth or beef/pork broth would work too). Should be cool temperature-- hot water will melt the butter you spent time whipping.
Add the masa/broth/water mix to the whipped butter in the stand mixer. Beat until combined.
Filling Recipes & Ideas
You will need approximately 8-10 C of cooked filling for the above amount of masa dough.
- Chicken Chile Verde
- Shredded Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder
- Beef & Potato Tinga
- Sweet tamales- I've seen recipes for sweet tamales- not sure if sweet fillings would go with this masa dough since it is made with broth!
- Tamales: spread masa dough on soaked corn husks. Dab filling. Roll up and/or fold (see this method, particularly the photos. It is faster b/c you don't have to tie shut!). Steam for 2 hours. Eat or freeze.
- Dessert tamales: same as above, except fill with chopped bittersweet chocolate. Fold cinnamon into the dough. Or fill with chopped almond/pistachios and dried apricots or raisins.
- Baked masa "muffins": pour extra masa into muffin tins. Bake at 425 F for 20-40 minutes or until set and the top is browning. Surprisingly good as a snack as is, like a breakfast muffin or dinner roll. Or top with salsa or Mexican sauces.