one of our longest-standing holiday traditions is for the whole family to get together to make a big batch of tamales for christmas. in fact, i can’t even imagine a christmas without warm tamales on the table. the process for making them can be pretty labor intensive, so i’m sharing an abbreviated version for the latest post in my family recipe series. you can make the masa from scratch, but i usually just buy it already prepared from the local panaderia. and when it comes to fillings, there really are no rules. i’m sharing this classic vegetarian version because it’s simple and tasty, but the options are limitless. you could try adding potatoes, pumpkin, corn, or carrots. and when it comes to meat, i usually prepare a pork filling with a red chile sauce.
chile and cheese tamales yields about 6 dozen
corn husks soaked in water until soft
15 lbs masa preparada
2 lbs jack cheese cut into strips
roasted anaheim chiles with the skin, stem, and seeds removed
green chile sauce (you can make your own or simply buy a canned variety from the grocery store from brands like herdez or hatch)
the best way to do this is to convince a few friends or family members to join in, then gather all of the prepared ingredients in a little assembly line! with a butter knife or thin spatula, you’re going to spread a thin, even layer of masa across the smooth side of the corn husk about 1/4″ thick, leaving a couple of inches on one end. this is kind of hard to describe with just words, so i have added plenty of photos to illustrate what this looks like. then, add your filling. in this case, we place the stick of cheese inside the chile, then top it off with a spoonful of green chile sauce. then wrap it up like a little burrito, folding up the bottom end to seal it. this is not the only way to wrap tamales, but this is the way we do it in our family. some people cut strips of corn husks and use them to tie off one or both ends. it’s really up to you. from there, place the tamale upright in a steamer pot. once you’ve filled the pot, put them on a low boil to steam for about 1.5 hours. you’ll know they’re ready when the masa becomes slightly firm to the touch.