This post could also affectionately be called “what to make when time is not a limiting factor” or “a recipe that is really good for making in a large group” or “how to fill your freezer with delicious, easy lunches or dinners for a long time.”
Any of these would work.
Tamales are one of my favorites. My mom would get some once or twice a year and it was always a DELICIOUSdinner–one of the only dinners I can think of that we ate growing up where beef was a key player. I thought it was SO COOL that they came in little corn husk wrappers and loved the tender masa and spicy beef filling. Sigh.
You’d be surprised how often I catch my mouth watering when I write these posts. It’s almost embarrassing. Almost.
For our Cook Around the World meal of March (I know it’s April. Let’s not talk about it.), we decided to tackle beef tamales. Heaven help us. They were SO delicious, not as hard as I thought they would be, but rather time-consuming to make.
I would highly recommend making the recipe below, which has been modified to make HALF as many as most of the recipes I used to compile this one. And it still made LOTS–perfect to freeze and use as a quick lunch or dinner later this month when we’re preparing to move.
A few tips:
- Make sure that you soak the husks in warm water. This keeps them pliable and less likely to tear.
- Make the tamales over two days. I slow-cooked the beef on day one, shredded it, and put it in the fridge. Day two, I made the masa mixture and wrapped up the tamales.
- Don’t overstuff them. Please. I’m serious. Just believe me, and go with it. Homemade tamales are a LOT smaller than store-bought ones. And this is as it should be.
- Feel free to freeze them uncooked. They will steam beautifully and you’ll be fine.
- They taste REALLY good with red enchilada sauce and refried black beans. Again with the drooling.
3lbs beef roast (buy something leanish and inexpensive-ish)
1 large onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, halved
2Tbsp chili powder
salt and pepper
1-2 Tbsp cumin
4c masa harina
1/4c chili powder
2 tsp salt
corn husks (I bought 1 large bag and it was perfect).
Place beef, onion, and garlic in a slow cooker. Add 2 Tbsp chili powder, 1 Tbsp cumin, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour in enough water to cover or almost cover the meat. (You could use low-sodium beef broth.) Cook on low 8-10 hours or till very very tender. Don’t discard the broth! Shred beef and refrigerate. Store broth separately in a container in the refrigerator.
Soak corn husks in warm water overnight.
1) Rinse corn husks and drain well.
2) Skim fat off of the broth. Throw it away because it’s gross. Add just enough broth (only a few tablespoons) to just moisten the meat. Taste and check seasoning. If somewhat bland, add more cumin and chili powder. You may need to add a little more broth.
3) To make masa mixture, combine masa harina, shortening, chili powder, and salt. Add enough broth to the dough so that it is very moist and pliable but not liquidy.
To assemble: Spread masa about 1/8″ thick on each husk and lay a thin line of the beef mixture down the center, leaving about 1/2″ border on each side. use the corn husk to fold the masa over the beef mixture till the masa just overlaps. Fold the ends under the tamales. You can optionally tie a small strip of husk around the ends to secure them.
To cook: Steam fresh tamales for about 35 minutes or frozen ones for 60 min. You CAN use a microwave vegetable steamer, or, if you’re like us and didn’t have either, I can give you directions using a large lidded pot, a metal pie plate, and a mug…but I recommend the other methods first. Note that my tamales were very small (about the size of my two front fingers put together). For larger tamales, you’ll want to steam longer.