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Tamales To Die For

Updated on May 28, 2013
5 stars from 2 ratings of Tamales to die for

These Tamales are a cut above the typical fare you will find at most restaurants; they require a bit of work and it is best to make a large quantity at at time. These freeze well and can be heated up quickly in a steamer; in my household we usually make a huge batch around Christmas time and enjoy them through the cold months of Winter.

You will need a steamer that is deep enough to support the tamales on end; if you do not have one it is easy enough to make one with a metal colander and some foil suspended above a pot of boiling water. I hope your family enjoys these as much as mine does!

Looking for an idea to go along with this recipe? How about this fresh tangy salsa to go on top?

Get creative!  Here I used some cilantro leaves and strips of green onion before steaming to give a unique "gourmet" look.
Get creative! Here I used some cilantro leaves and strips of green onion before steaming to give a unique "gourmet" look.

Cook Time

Prep time: 2 hours
Cook time: 6 hours
Ready in: 8 hours
Yields: this recipe makes between 5 and 6 dozen tamales.
ingredients for the best tamales ever!
ingredients for the best tamales ever!


  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds pork loin
  • 2 pounds chicken thighs
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons cumin
  • 4 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 cup roasted green chilies, chopped
  • 2 small cans chipotles in adobo
  • 8 cups instant masa
  • 2 cups lard
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 60-70 corn husks
  1. Melt the butter in a large stockpot on medium heat and briefly brown the pork loin on all sides. Add plenty of water to the stockpot and add the chicken thighs; there should be enough water to cover the meat completely by a few inches. Bring this to a boil and then reduce to medium heat.
  2. Add the onions, garlic, salt, and bay leaves. Cover and let simmer for 4 hours, checking periodically to make sure there is plenty of water in the pot. You will need at least eight to ten cups for the masa (the dough for the tamales) later. About three hours into cooking this mixture, you should begin to soak your corn husks in warm water to hydrate them and make them pliable.
  3. Remove the chicken and pork from the broth and allow to cool until it is cool enough to be handled by hand. Reserve the broth for the masa because you will need at least 8 to 10 cups of it! While the meat is cooling, blend the chipotles in adobo until it is a rough paste. Place this paste in a bowl and set aside for later.
  4. Once the meat is cooled enough to handle, remove the bones and skin from the chicken. Shred the chicken meat and the pork loin by hand and mix in a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped chiles and season the mix with the cumin and chili powder. Season to taste with some salt. Set this mixture aside for later.
  5. Now it is time to start making the masa (dough)! Mix the masa, salt, and baking powder in a very large mixing bowl. Gradually add the broth (8 cups) as you mix, it is very important to mix this very well until it is nice and spongy. I recommend using your hands for this. Add the lard and mix until it has an even constancy again.
  6. Now it it time to get some friends to help you roll tamales. This is a very fun thing to do with the family or with friends. Take a corn husk in your hand and spread a layer of masa over about half of the width and two-thirds the length of the husk. The masa should come to the edge of the husk along the flat end of the husk, but you should leave some room along the third of the husk near the "pointy end" of the husk. Try to spread the masa so that it is only about an eight of an inch thick. Be patient; the thinner you can get the masa, the better the tamales will be when it comes time to dig in!
  7. Use a spoon to spread a strip of the chipotle paste down the length of the masa, then place a strip of the meat mixture over the chipotle paste. How much chipotle and meat filling you use is up to you; experiment to see what proportions of masa/spicy/meat you like. We usually end up with a bunch of tamales of different sizes and shapes, but they are all delicious!
  8. Roll the masa over until it forms a seal with itself, then roll the tamale and fold the pointy end of the husk.
  9. Set tamales in the steamer with the opened end up. Cover with a damp towel and steam for about 1 1/2 hours. Enjoy!

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