Tamales are a celebratory food served during the Christmas season and other special occasions. While they're a treat to eat, the art of preparing them is just as special. Friends and family come together for tamaladas, a party-like gathering centered around preparing and feasting on these savory stuffed delicacies cooked in corn husks.
Tamale fillings vary—they can include roasted peppers, shredded pork, chicken, vegetables, cheese and more.
Try this traditional tamales recipe from Cindy Pruitt in Grove, Oklahoma, then scroll through the next slides to learn how to make them.
Masa harina, Spanish for "dough flour," is the traditional flour used to make tortillas, tamales and other Mexican dishes. Although it is made from ground corn, masa harina is not like cornmeal. You cannot substitute one for the other in recipes. (Look for masa harina in the ethnic aisle of your grocery store.)
Whip dough (masa) until light and fluffy. It should be very thick and well combined.
Properly beaten dough will float when dropped into cold water.
Pat dough to within 1-in. of edges of each corn husk. (Look for dried corn husks in the ethnic aisle of your grocery store.) Top with your recipe's filling mixture.
Roll corn husk around the filling. Fold top and bottom edges under; tie with kitchen string.
Arrange tied tamales in an upright position in a steamer basket. Place basket in a Dutch oven over 1 in. of water. Bring to a boil; cover and steam for 45-50 minutes or until dough peels away from husk, adding additional hot water to pan as needed.