View Full Version : Tamales

Thom H.
08-24-2006, 04:58 AM
I am a novice tamale maker, and now a novice smoker guy.

Have any of you used your smoked butts or anything else to put in the tamales and with what results? Got any suggestions? favorite tamale recipes?


K Kruger
08-24-2006, 09:47 AM
Yes, with chunks of pork butt and smoked turkey (not together) with excellent results, the former with roasted green chilies and one melting cheese or another, the latter with reconstituted chopped cascabel chilies, orange zest and grilled corn kernels with just a little grated queso aņejo.

I do not make tamales as often as I'd like because of the time required to make fresh masa. It is not available here so I buy dent corn and make my own. I've cut the time down considerably by getting a grinder for the nixtamal, what the corn is called that's been limed and skinned, which is much faster than using a metate but, as liming the corn takes time, it's still a process.

You can make tamales with masa harina but I do not like these quite as much (I'm spoiled on fresh masa). It makes a reasonable substitute, however, but good quality lard (I render my own as good lard is not available here) is highly recommended.

Thom H.
08-24-2006, 01:26 PM
Thanks for the reply!

The last time I made them it took so long without going through the extra processes you describe! Last time I made them I had all the burners going on my stove and blew it out, had to get a new stovetop. It's very labor intensive.

I use the masa harina, and make a roasted tomatillo/jalapeno sauce to mix with the meat filling. Your grilled corn sounds like a nice addition. I just used the plain old lard in the grocery store, with good results. What I made is better than any other I've tried around here.

Thanks again,


K Kruger
08-24-2006, 04:39 PM

So cool that you are getting the results! So cool that you are (apparently) enjoying the process!

See here (http://tvwbb.infopop.cc/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/3780069052/m/6820004044?r=8580084044#8580084044) for notes on rendering your own lard. It will make a big difference in your satisfaction and can be used for numerous other things (terrific pie crusts, pork confit, carnitas, etc., etc., that you'll not mind the rendering process at all (trust me on this).

Try: Take the key elements of the sauce you are making (tomatillo and jal, e.g.), and include them in the filling. Make your sauce with said ingredients; you'll find the connection works better between filling and sauce than if you just put sauce in the middle. this is because you'll find the need to focus on the filling more (a very good thing) and your emphasis will be there--the sauce will be a pull-together afterthought, just as it should be.

Many things that you smoke on the WSM for other uses will make superb tamal fillings--much better than you'll get elsewhere. Do not hesitate to use other non-'traditional' ingredients to boost the flavors of your fillings or sauces. E.g., roasted pineapple, roasted chilies, charred onion, charred tomato, fresh corn kernels, sweet potato, plantain, toasted pumpkin seeds, etc.---whole new world and, though you'll not often see some of these combos in 'traditional' tamal recipes, they are included by forward-thinking chefs in many places in Mexico--these and more. I used my leftover pork from Cochinita Pibil for tamales last time I made them. I also had pickled shallots, so I combined the two, chopped them together, then mixed them with toasted reconstituted minced mulatos and charred onion and charred tomato, plus a little queso fresco--a real winner. I made the sauce out of the mulatos, onion, tomatoes plus chicken stock and added slow-cooked sweetened garlic. I stuck a corn cob in the simmering sauce to add corn/sweetness notes--it was one of the best sauces I've ever done. Plating: a mound of shredded cabbage tossed with vinegar-thinned sauce, topped with 2 tamales (opened, but not out of the husks) drizzled with the sauce, and dusted with cotijo cheese and toasted pepitas. Recommended!

Anyway, forge on. You'll love playing with the possibilities--despite the time involved. If ever you wish to make fresh masa from scratch let me know. A process, yes, but it is one of those hands-on, amazingly satisfying food trips (like making really good pastry from scratch) that is very fulfilling. Till then, masa harina works fine; play with your fillings ad infinitum. Smoked brisket, pork, turkey, chicken, duck--even fish--can all work well as a filling in a tamal. Let us know your results. I've more work to do and would appreciate the leg up.