Tamales with Beef or Pork

Tamales with Beef or Pork (Tamales de Res or Cerdo)
Taken from the Mexican Family Cookbook by Aida Gabilondo.
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 16 Tamales
  • Basic Tamale Dough (see post)
  • 2 c. (1/2 recipe) Ancho Chile Sauce for enchiladas
  • 16 corn husks, plus extra to line the steamer
  • 2 lbs. boneless beef stew meat or pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Prepare the tamale dough and keep it at room temperature.
  2. Prepare ancho chile sauce and reserve
  3. Soak corn husks in hot tap water for 2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, put the meat, onion, garlic, and bay into a large saucepan.
  5. Add water to just cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, until meat is tender, about 1 hour.
  6. Cool the meat in the broth; then remove and tear into shreds.
  7. Put the meat in a bowl. Add ½ cup of the ancho sauce. Mix well. Strain the meat broth and save for another use.
  8. Remove the corn husks from the water. Put on a plate and cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel to keep moist.
  9. Set 1 husk on a work surface. Add about 2 tablespoons of dough in the center of the husk and spread into a ¼-inch thick rectangle to within 1 inch of the wide end and about 3 inches from the pointed end. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling down the middle of the dough.
  10. Overlap the sides of the husk over the filling. Fold the pointed end toward the wide end and put in a plate folded side down. Repeat with remaining husks and fillings.
  11. Fill about 3 inches of water and a coin into a large steamer. (A rattling coin means there’s still water in the pot.)
  12. Then line the steamer rack with extra corn husks. Arrange the tamales folded ends down on the husks. Cover with more corn husks or aluminum foil. Tuck a kitchen towel on top and put on the lid.
  13. Bring to a boil and steam tamales 1 hour or until the dough is firm and easily pulls away from the husk.
  14. Do not let the steam boil dry. If the coin stops rattling, very cautiously add hot water.
  15. Reheat the remaining chile sauce. Serve with the tamales. To store, keep tamales wrapped and refrigerated up to 3 days, or freeze up to 3 months. Reheat in a steamer or microwave.



Basic Tamale Dough
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 14-16 Small Tamales
  • 1½ cups masa harina
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cups warm water plus extra, if needed
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the masa harina, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In another medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat shortening and butter until creamy. Beat in about one quarter of each of the masa mixture and water. Continue beating and adding the remaining masa and water in 3 additions. Beat until the dough is soft and fluffy, scraping down the edges of the bowl as needed, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. To test, drop a small piece of dough into a glass of water. If it floats, the dough is ready; if not, beat some more. The dough should be soft, moist, and easy to spread, but not wet or sticky. If dough is too thick, beat in 1 tablespoon water at a time. The dough is ready to use, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or wrap and freeze for 3 months. Bring to room temperature before using.

Ancho Chile Sauce for Enchiladas
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4½ Cups
  • 8 large ancho chiles
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano (Mexican variety preferred), crumbled
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth, canned or homemade (depending on the meat that’s used for the enchiladas)
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  1. Wipe the chiles with a damp paper towel. Cut the chiles open and remove the stems and seeds. Heat a dry skillet over medium heat and toast the chiles, turning, until they are aromatic, about 10 seconds. Do not burn, or chiles will be bitter. Put the chiles in a bowl, add hot water to cover, and soak about 20 minutes. Drain, discarding the water.
  2. Put the chiles, tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, marjoram, and broth in a blender. Blend, in batches if necessary, to a smooth puree. The sauce should have the consistency of heavy cream. If too thick, add about 1 tablespoon water at a time, to reach the desired consistency.
  3. In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chile puree. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer the sauce, stirring frequently to blend the flavors, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cream and heat through completely, 3 or 4 minutes. The sauce is ready to use, or store in a covered container, refrigerated up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.