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Tamales (America's Test Kitchen) Recipe

4.6 stars - based on 14 votes
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This recipe for Tamales (America's Test Kitchen), by , is from Bowman Family Favorites, one of the cookbooks created at We'll help you start your own personal cookbook! It's easy and fun. Click here to start your own cookbook!

Lindsay Merrill


1 cup plus 2 Tbs quick grits (NOT instant grits)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup (4 ounces) plus 2 Tbs masa harina (Maseca)
20 large dried corn husks (you'll need more to double up with if they are smaller than about 8x6")
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
6 Tbs butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and softened
6 Tbs lard, softened
1 Tbs sugar
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt

1 recipe filling- you can use Red Chile Chicken filling OR 12 ounces monterey jack cheese mixed with 3 Tbs minced pickled jalapeņos OR another tamale filling. You'll need about 2 Tbs filling per tamale; this recipe makes 18-20 tamales.

1. Put grits in medium bowl and whisk in boiling water. Let stand until water is mostly absorbed (about 10 minutes). Stir in masa harina, cover, and let cool to room temperature (about 20 minutes).

2. Put corn husks in a large bowl, cover with hot water, and let soak until pliable and cleaner (about 30 minutes).

3. To a food processor, add masa dough, corn, butter, lard, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Process until mixture is light, sticky, and smooth (about 1 minute). Scrape down the sides as necessary.

4. Remove corn husks from water and pat dry with towel.

5. With one husk at a time, lay husk on counter (or a sheet pan to save clean up), cupped side up. Spread 1/4 cup tamale dough in 4-inch square in bottom corner of the husk. You want there to be about a 1/4 inch space with no dough on the long edge of the husk, but you want the dough to extend all the way to the bottom/short edge of the husk. Put 2 Tbs filling in a line on the dough, parallel to the long edge of the husk. Roll the husk away from you, over the filling so that the dough meets up with itself and forms a cylinder around the filling. Fold the tapered end up, leaving the top open. Place seam side down on a tray.

6. Make all the tamales.

7. Put a steamer basket in a large pot (my 8 quart pot was big enough, but only barely). Fill pot with water until it touches the bottom of the basket. Bring water to a boil. Gently place tamales in basket with the open ends facing up, seam sides facing out. (The idea is that you put the weight of the tamale on its seam and it'll stay closed while it steams.)

8. Cover and steam, checking water level often (adding more if needed) until the tamales easily come free of the husks (about 1 hour). Transfer tamales to plates. Top with leftover sauce from filling, or another sauce if you just used cheese. (I like to put a little more cheese on top of mine if there's no cheese in your filling.)

Number Of Servings:
Number Of Servings:
18-20 tamales
Personal Notes:
Personal Notes:
These are seriously the best tamales I've ever eaten. They made my mouth tingle a little bit.




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