Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tamales Mexicanos de Puerco en Chile Colorado y Pollo en Chile Verde (Mexican Red Pork Tamales and Green Chicken Tamales)

Many cultures have their own types of Tamal (Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Central and South Americans, etc.) depending the culture and even region it is prepared differently using different ingredients and cooking methods. In general a tamal is a starchy dough usually corn based, stuffed with some type of filling usually meat or seafood sometimes vegetables, wrapped and steamed

The tamales I grew up eating were the Mexican tamales as well as the Salvadorian tamales (that will be left for another post) today I'm focusing on the Mexican tamales, they are made from dried corn treated with nixtamal/ lime which is calcium hydroxide, this releases the nutrients in the corn, the corn is ground, and mixed with lard, salt, and I don't know what else. This dough we just call it "Masa"

Here in the United States I feel safe to say NO ONE makes the dough from scratch, especially here in Southern Mexifornia I mean California we have so many good Mexican stores that sell quality Mexican ingredients, and prepare fresh dough daily, they sell by the pounds. The best dough down here in my opinion is from "La Amapola" a Mexican deli when we visit my aunt in Huntington Park we always stock up on Masa. But when we aren't in teh area and run out of their dough, then Vallarta (a chain of Mexican stores down here) and "El Gallo Giro" (a Mexican bakery) sell good masa.

The other option is to buy "Masa Harina" sold under the brand "Maseca" it is made of pure all natural corn, it is dried ground to a powder corn treated with lime to release the nutrients, the directions are on the packet for making the tamal dough, but I believe it's inferior to the fresh dough from the stores but still delicious.

... I really should be getting paid for talking about these products and establishments haha.

Ingredients for Tamales dough and wrap:
-10 lbs. already prepared "Masa Para Tamales" (Tamale dough)bought from the Mexican store, fresh or buy "Masa Harina" and make dough according to packet instructions

-2 packets 8 oz. "Hojas de Tamal Encochadas" (dried corn husk leaves) (soaked in cold water for 30- 60 minutes)

Filling 1 Ingredients- Pork in Red Sauce:
-5 lbs. pork leg meat cut into small cubes
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 onion minced
-4 cloves garlic minced
-12 dried "Chile California" peppers ( right )
-10 dried "Chile Guajillo" peppers ( left )
-2 ripe tomatoes
-1 heaping teaspoon cumin
-1/4 heaping teaspoon cloves -1 tablespoon chicken bouillon

Directions for Filling 1- Pork in Red Sauce:
(1) Get pork, wash it, and cover half way with water season liberally with salt and pepper, bring to boil on high heat and leave slightly uncovered, add some very generous amounts of oil maybe 1/2 cup while the pork is boiling. leave alone.

(2) Meanwhile, remove stem and seeds from dried peppers, put in a pot with 3 tomatoes and boil until tender in water just enough water to barely cover. about 10 minutes, when tender put in a blender with enough liquid to make a sauce and chicken bouillon, strain sauce through a strainer, add ground cumin, ground cloves stir well.

(3) When all the water evaporates on the pork you were simmering, brown the pork slightly, set meat aside, brown onion then add garlic when fragrant, add red sauce you made, bring to a boil, add pork meat and simmer 15 minutes, taste for salt add more if necessary. Turn off heat, the filling is done.

(4) Be sure the sauce isn't too thin it needs to be thick and somewhat reduced set aside.

Filling 2 Ingredients- Chicken in Green Chile Sauce

-4 lbs boneless chicken meat
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 onion minced
-2 jalapeno or serrano peppers minced (any spicy green pepper)
-4 cloves garlic
-1 lbs. tomatillos
-water about 1 1/2 cups
-1 tablespoon chicken bouillon

Filling 2- Chicken in Green Sauce Directions:
(1) Brown chicken in oil with salt and pepper on very high heat

(2) Meanwhile blend tomatillos in a blender cut in half with water and chicken bouillon, make sure it's very well blended and liquefied
(3) When chicken is browned, add onion and green chili pepper, when onion is translucent or browned, add garlic when fragrant add the tomatillos you blended with water and bouillon. Add salt to taste if necessary.
(4) Bring to a boil and allow to cook 15 minutes. Turn off heat. Be sure the filling isn't to loose set aside.


Directions for wrapping Tamales and cooking them:
(1) Don't forget to soak the corn husks, when soaked for about 30- 60 minutes in cold water take them out as your using.
(2) Have everything arranged and ready (your fillings, your dough, the corn husks drained after soaking, and large dishes to place your already wrapped tamales)
(3) Get a corn husk, spread the masa on it, on the upper part like this
(4) Put about 2 pieces of filling with a little sauce
(5)Fold it so the two corners with masa stick, then tuck one side in

(6)Then fold the end upwards,
(7) Set aside
(8)Do the same with the green filling
(9) Here's when we are done wrapping all of them. Please note that when wrapping them some corn husk leaves will be smaller or rip if that's the case use two that over lap each other.
(10)Get a deep enough pot, and line is with corn husk like the pictures below

(11) In one pot put only one kind of tamales (green or red) my mother say's if you steam them all together then the flavors can intertwine.

(12) Tuck in leaves to form a dome on the sides,

(13) Place a corn husk on the center (please note this dome is formed so water from the pots lid does not fall onto the tamales, if thsi happens they drown and never harden, you will get a mushy mess.
(14) Do the same with the red ones in another pot
(15) Have water boiling in a seperate pot and put about 3 cups of boiling water in each pot, but ladle the water in through the sides of the dome, cover and cook on medium high heat, for about 1 1/2 hours.

(16) Take one out to test if the dough is raw or not fully cooked, when done they are ready to eat.
(17) Enjoy with some "Champurrado" a type of thick Mexican chocolate cinnamon drink:)

Please Note:
(1) My favorite are the one's with "Chile Colorado" if I were making them and not my mother I would only make the one's with pork in "Chile Colorado"

(2) Also there's a sweet pineapple type of masa, my mom buys the prepared pineapple dough but adds certain things that makes it amazing. She also makes another type as well with fire roasted poblano peppers and fresh cheese.

(3) You can make very large batches and freeze them raw then take them out to steam whenever.

ALSO SUPER IMPORTANT... so it's not too much work you can make the filling a day in advance doing everything the same day is a lot of work and super time consuming

(4) When reheating them the next day or after cold, if microwaving cover/ wrap in a wet cloth or towel or it will be dry. Another way to re-heat is to put in a pot with very little water and steam until hot again. And the best way or tastiest is called "Tamal Frito" (fried tamal) my mother heats lard in a pan and fries the tamal until crispy on all sides to re-heat :)


aandara said...

Nathan he descubierto tu blog y me ha encantado, los tamales se ven riquisimos y ademas me has despejado una duda que tenia sobre como se llamaba el chile de la izquierda, lo habia visto en walmart y no tenia nombre
gracias y te aseguro pasare amenudo por aqui

Nathan said...

Glad you liked my blog :) if there's ever any Mexican recipes or anything else you want let me know I do take requests :)

¿Gusta Usted? said...

Nathan! ya viste mi receta de tamales en hoja de maíz? Es casi igual a la de tu mamá!
De ver los tuyos ya quiero hacerlos otra vez. También prefiero los de chile colorado

¿Gusta Usted? said...

Nathan, olvide comentarte Qué bonitas hojas de maíz consiguen allá limpias sin manchas todas ellas. Aquí las hojas no estan tan buenas suelen tener manchas, otras son muy gruesas y ásperas. Descubri otra manera de envolver los tamales: Se ponen dos hojas encontradas super puestas y cuando lo envuelves las puntas una sobre la otra. Así queda completamente encerrada la masa y no se sale.


Nathan said...

Hola me da gusto que vengas a darme una visita jeje :) No e visto tu receta de tamal en hoja de maiz pero oritita voy a darle un buen ojo :)

Mi mama piensa en acer "chepos" este ano, quando los aga te los enseno :)

¿Gusta Usted? said...

Hola Nathan! seran uchepos? Por acá les dicen CUICHES. Muy ricos. Espero ver la receta de tu mamá, ya dijiste, me avisas!

Anonymous said...

hola nathan!
que ricas las recetas en tu blog, especialmente la de tamales, es una labor de amor a la barriga! jajaja! yo quisiera hacerlos, aunque vivo en Australia y no sabria donde conseguir los ingredientes, pero buscando se encuentran. Felicidades por tu blog, me encanta e insipira! Mayola

Nathan said...

Hola Mayola,
Tal ves se puede encontrar en el internet. Sabes que, creo que tal'ves los puedas acer de "MASECA" a la mejor encuentras un provedor de "MASECA" que mande productos a Australia, tal ves usar aluminio y "parchment paper" en ves de hoja de maiz, y tambien acer el relleno con lo que tengas en mano.

Anonymous said...


Mil gracias por tu blog busque en la web y nadie tiene una receta tan clara como la tuya. La mayoria de la gente que busca receta nos sabe hacer ese platillo especificamente y tu blog es excelente ya que nos advierte de lo que puede pasar si cambiamos cierto procedimiento pero para serte sincera es excelente ya que educas al lector y al aprendis. Gracias en verdad gracias.

c2a0r0o0l said...

Nathan, you have become my personal brand of miracle!! I love your recetas and the great detail and effort in which you present them! I have made plenty of them already and believe me, even my husband is enjoying them, and he is very very picky! Being that I grew up in California, I do not know how to make the traditional Mexican Foods that he loves so much, but you have been an immense help! Thank you for taking your time to do this! You are an angel!
P.S. I do not believe I have said thanks enough! So, thank you, thank you very very much!


Laura said...

Muchas gracias por tus consejos en como hacer los tamales, se ven riquisimos y espero que me queden asi !! gracias

Aol said...

Wow, what a helpful blog. you made it really easy to follow instructions. especially since you provided pictures for each of the steps. thx :P

Anonymous said...

About how much time dies it take total

Nathan said...

Depending on how you cook and stuff the preparation time before steaming can take about 1-2 hours (making the filling etc.) and wrapping them another hour give yourself like 3-4 hours to spare.

Like in my family doing everything in one day is like ALOT of work, so when we make things like this, we usually make the filling a day in advance (usually the night before) and then the next day we just buy the masa, and begin the wrapping process, also we never really do it alone it's like a collaboration like we get everyone in the house to sit at the table and help us wrap the tamales so it's faster.

Anonymous said...

que otro tipo de chile puedo usar en vez de chile california aqui en philadelphia no encontre de ese. gracias de antemano muy buen blog

Nathan said...

Puedes hacer la salsa con puro Chile Guajillo pero queda un poquito mas picante. Si lo preparas con puro guajillo, asegurate que les quites las semillas, y venas pa que no este muy picante.

La salsa de chile colorado es hecha con Guajillo o California a veces mezcla de dos. Ay gente que tambien le agregan Chile Pasilla, substituyen una cantidad de Guajillo o California por pasilla (le da un gusto mas ahumado)

Mi mama me dijo tambien que si no encuentras ninguno de esos puedes tratar de usar Chile Cascabel seco pero quien sabe como queda con Cascabel porque nunca lo e hecho.

Patricia said...

Hi Nathan,
Thank you very much for taking so much of your time to educate us on how to make tamales. My sister from California gave me a link to your blog, thank goodness for that!

I love tamales but never really made an effort to make them as my mom always had made them for me.

I now live in England (been here for 13 years now). Only recently I decided to make tamales all by myself!! boo hoo!!
Anyhow, it was really hard to find some of the items but I found this great website where I found all the things I need to make them


Anonymous said...

Hello Nathan! I recently married the love of my life, finally, and he is Mexican. He loves tamales more then he probley loves me (lol) but I have never been a great cook. So I found your blog and I followed all you put down for the tamales. May I say you are absolutely amazing at teaching even me to cook! Lol I though that was IMPOSSIBLE. Lol Thanks for all your help. But may I ask a question? How do you get the corn husks from burning inside the pan? Someway I burnt some of the corn Husks but the tamales were fine. The smell just...wasnt very arousing???? LOl but thanks for everything!

Nathan said...

:)Glad you were able to make them and get everything you needed over there in the UK thanks for sharing the link

The reason the bottom burned/ some got burned was because all the water evaporated away thus the heat with no liquid or anything just burned/ charred the bottom husk.Just be sure you have enough water in your pot/ pan you might have to replenish it during cooking if it all evaporated away (try keeping it in medium heat, maybe it was left on high heat?) either way glad it all worked out in the end and that your hubby is happy :) Truth be told though my mom deserves most credit for these I helped her make them and took pictures of the whole process the tips are all hers lol. but hey I gotta learn somewhere right who better than mama or grandma

ashley diaz said...

Hello Nathan! Thankyou for Replying to my question, I was the ANONYMOUS who burnt the corn husks. Lol, I find a way to burn everything. But I will try again this time on a lower heat setting, and more water. I'll tell you how it turned again, bc this monday I have to make like 80 tamales for a small christmas dinner of my Husband's friends, (all hispanic) and I am pretty nervous. Lol wish me luck!!! Thanks again so much, to your granny and mother too. Muchas gracias!

Anonymous said...

hello its ashley again! they turned out great. It was the water. :)) thanks so much for everything!

Izzy said...

how often do you check for water?

Nathan said...

I honestly don't check the water at all, I just sort of estimate it, try adding 3-4 cups, bring to a boil on high, then lower to medium high covered and forget about it, if it smells like it might burn or you feel like the water is gone then check on it.

Izzy said...

Ok thanks so much will try this recipe. Will let you know the results!!! Good day

Anonymous said...

Hello Nathan,
I can't wait to make tamales this weekend. I will be using masa preparada; do I need to add baking powder, salt or lard to it? My mom would be so proud of me in following our traditions. I look forward to your responce.

Nathan said...

Hi I am glad your going to try them out, we use "Masa Preparada" too (prepared masa already bought from the store), the "Masa Preparada" already has everything (manteca, salt, baking powder, etc.) I've had good luck buying pre-made masa from "Vallarta" Supermarket, and of course the store "La Amapola" & "Gallo Jiro" if you happen to live in So Cal, "La Amapola" has the best one I've had the rest are good though. Let me know how it works out :)

angel franco said...

Se ven muy ricos los tamales

Anonymous said...

I love your recipe thank you for your blog. I use a pebble in the pot to let me know if i need to add more water, if you hear the pebble bouncing around the bottom of the pot, you need more water.

Unknown said...

I love your Blog!!! I'm telling all my friends about all your wonderful recipes. I visit your Blog a lot, but this is the first time I make a comment. And your right, you should get paid for this. I first visited for a tamale recipe, but I was very disappointed in them. They should pay you for promoting their product with a much better recipe. Thank you very much and please continue to amaze us with this awesome Blog.

Anonymous said...

se mira muy buena receta, una pregunta le pones agua o caldo de pollo a la masa y si es asi cuanto le pones?

Nathan said...

Casi siempre la compro preparada (ya viene con la manteca, sal, royal, etc.) pero quando se prepara en casa pues va de gustos a gustos yo la hago na'mas con agua, manteca, royal, y sal. La verdad que no se muy bien las proporciones porque siempre lo hago "a ojo" pero casi lo que hago es que le voy agregando agua poco a poco, moviendo la masa harina pero no la "aprieto" hasta que agarre consistencia.

EL Sorrullo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nathan said...

El Sorullo,
Thanks for visiting my blog :-) to make the masa sweet you would work "the masa" adding sugar to taste... but don't think it would be very good, down here they sell already sweetened masa (para tamales de pi~na) but yes I think that would be an alternative... to make it spicy maybe work a really spicy puree of ground chile japones that has been sauteed in hot oil then pureed. Or ground up chilies

Anonymous said...

Hello nathan! How are you? Omy sabes this weekend I was craving tamalitos mexicanos I'm not from mexico but I loveeeee mexican food bueno toda comida haahaha I saw ur blog and I love it thank you!! K question hize los tamalitos pero they came out a little dry! Hize la receta como dijiste pero saliendo algo rececos! What's ur advise on that? Thank u and congratulations!!

Nathan said...

Hola Anonymous,
Hmmm I know what you mean sometimes the masa from tamales can be a little dry (sometimes depends on how the store prepares the premade masa)... not sure how to get around that, if dry when re-heating I suggest reheating in a steamer or wrap them in a wet paper towel and microwave on high for about 3 minutes or so. I think I have a new project for winter break going to try to make a masa dough that will be gauranteed moist. (sometimes the masa might need more water or manteca/ grease)

Unknown said...

I love your recipe's. I noticed people asking you for a masa recipe. I found this one and is very good:
4 cups of Maseca (masa),
3 1/2 cups of hot water (add chicken bouillon about 2 tbsp)
2 cups of Manteca de Puerco (Pork Lard) or Shortening. But the Lard will give them a way better taste. Una ves al año no hace daño.
1 cup of sauce, sautee chopped veg about 1/2 small onion, two garlic, one medium tomatoe and add comino (cumin), more water and salt.
(The sauce will give your masa a great flavor! This is the most important part you can also add red chile sauce for flavor and color).
Make sure your masa is a little salty because the corn husk will absorb some of the salt.
Mix well by hand or use a Kitchen Aid mixer.
Steam your tamales for about an hour. Initially they will be very soft, but once they cool they will be perfect.

See this youtube video SKIP OVER TO ABOUT 9:20 MINUTES. TO SEE HOW SHE PREPARES THE MASA: She did not add the sauce but you will. Good luck.

Nathan said...

Hola Rebecca,
Thank you for sharing a recipe for the Masa, in the future I will tackle the task of practicing with different methods for a Tamal dough :-)

Maria Goretti said...

Cuca's in Pico Rivera also sells prepared and unprepared Masa for Tamales. They also sell the hojas and manteca by weight. Excellent place to get your supplies!

Anonymous said...

Thanks i so needed this info.

Unknown said...

hi nathan! this is my first time trying to make tamales, so im taking your recipe down :D how much water do we put at the bottom? and do we really need the inside pot that has the little wholes!? my mom used to make them but she passed almost three years ago, so now i have to learn on my own...and also do u have a recipe for tamales de dulce? thanks much! ill let u know how they came out.

Unknown said...

Oh, I forgot to add "Tablespoon of bakingpowder" to my previous post on the Masa recipe.

Unknown said...

Hi Nathan. How are you? I got all my co-workers (Houston Community College) looking at your recipes and they love them! Every friday we all take turns bringing in meals from your Blog. Thanks a lot. I hope we can start seeing you cook on YouTube soon!

Anonymous said...

Thank u nathan and rebecca

Anonymous said...

Thanks for adding pictures they're really gunna help:) Its my first year making them by myself. Wish me luck;) Also another way to reheat them is on the comal it gives them an even more mexican taste and the smell really takes u to the ranchos de mexico when they have the wood burning stove on:)

Loly M. said...

Definitivamente mi manera de calentar los tamales es fritos y con un cafecito....riquísimo!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hello Nathan love your blog it was very helpful. One tip that you guys can avoid to burn the husk is use a steamer. All you have to do is pour water up to the bottom rim and put the lid, then assemble the tamales and your good to go.

Unknown said...

Hola nathan, como piedo obtener la receta en español, se ve interesante y bien esplicada, espero y me puedas ayudar, gracias!!!!

Elias Gonzalez Perera said...

mil gracias

mario said...

Your explanations are perfect, one question: I cant find a recipe for chile con carne, do you have one?

Anonymous said...

How do you prepare your masa do you put spices, or red Chile. How do you make moist tamales, I made some last time and they were a little dry. Viviana

Unknown said...

Hi Nathan, by chance do you have a book?

Nathan said...

Hola Betty,

Unfortunately no book, and have not had time to invest in a project like that. Perhaps in the future ;-)

Nathan said...


Sorry I won't be able to help here, the Masa my family uses already is prepared (we have alot of latin stores in the area that prepare masa for tamales). However sometimes my mom makes masa out of maseca using lard or oil, and homemade chicken stock (made by boiling chicken with bay leaves, cumin, oregano, bouillon powder, salt, garlic, and onion) hope that helps :-)

Unknown said...

mmmmm nomas de verlos seme iso agua la boca grasias por tu reseta seben deliciosos.

Anonymous said...

I like your recipe and i am going to give it a try. I am sure is going to take some time to get it "just right". Thanks for sharing your recipe.