Total Tamale Success!

1-1-11.  That’s got to signify good luck right?

With the recipe success I had tonight, I’m thinking that’s a yes (despite what I’ve read online…) 😉

There was no other way than to start the new year with a recipe from my favorite cuisine ever.

One that I’d been dreaming of making for quite some time… and had even purchased the ingredients to do so many weeks ago.

The time was here!!  A lazy, relaxing, rainy Saturday night seemed just perfect for these 😀

Vegetarian Tamales w/ Roasted Poblano & Cheddar

Corn husks.

I picked these up at Tu Rincon Latino, a Mexican market located on West Broad Street if you’re from the Richmond area.

I’ve visited here a few times and love all the great finds (re: dried chiles galore!)

The corn husks needed a little softening before they became pliable enough to work with, so I submerged them in boiling water for about 10 minutes. 

Then took them off the heat and let soak for another hour (I weighed them down by placing a plate on top, ensuring that they all remained in water during the soaking time).

Instead of going with a traditional tamale filling containing lard, I decided to go the vegetarian route and use butter instead.


  • 3 cups masa harina
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 container vegetable broth (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • cheddar cheese
  • roasted poblano

This filling made plenty for 12 tamales (a bit too much actually!)

Masa harina.  Not to be confused with cornmeal.

If you’ve never worked with it before (and trust me, I’ve had minimal experience) it’s really pretty easy and not as intimidating as it may look!

I warmed the liquid before adding it to the masa harina, adding 1 cup at a time until a very moist texture was achieved. 

I also whipped the softened butter (using a fork) before folding it into the dough.

Fluffy perfect masa!  See, totally not that scary now is it? 😉

The filling for our tamales, along with the masa, was cheddar cheese and roasted poblano.

Roasting fresh chiles at home is super easy and oh-so-flavorful.

Just place the pepper on a foil lined pan and under a hot broiler for about a minute or two on each side – until the skin is blistered and blackened. 

Then into a sealed plastic bag for 20 minutes for the hot steam to do it’s magic.  Voila!  Skin peels right off and you are ready to roll.

Seeds & skin removed, sliced into small pieces.

Thanks to my favorite store everrrrrr – World Market – I picked this bamboo steamer up for a sweet $9.99 just a few weeks back.

I had tamales on the mind during this purchase, that’s for sure!

Assembly time:

Rinse and drain the soaked corn husks, then use a few of them to line the bamboo steamer.

The bamboo steamer just fits right on top of a regular ol’ pot in case you were wondering 🙂

To make the tamales, place a large spoonful of the masa onto each corn husk, about 3 tblsp.

Then lay down a slice of cheddar and a slice of the roasted poblano.

Fold up and tie with a small strip of corn husk to secure the filling inside.

Here’s my excel version of the tamale tie-up (I’m such an accountant).


Totally normal, no? 😉

I did a double layer in the steamer basket.  Tamales for everyone! 😀

After steaming for an hour and a half, the tamales were ready! 

(They’re ready when the masa pulls away from the corn husk easily, at least from what I read)

Oh yea.

Oh double yea.

To go with our tamales I baked some barbecue chicken w/ fresh cracked pepper.

I really like the flavor of these Whole Foods chicken legs.  Plus they are such a great way to eat “good” meat at a reasonable price!

Chicken leg $ < Chicken breast $.  The truth.

Plus a cool & refreshing salad (hey, it was 57 degrees here today!) 😛

I’m calling this a total tamale success!!!!

Especially since I was skeptical that:

(1) I’d get these right on my first try.

(2) The Man would like them considering he wants nothing to do with corn tortillas usually.

Lucky for me (there’s that 1-1-11 again 😉 ) these turned out perfectly, wouldn’t change a thing!  Andddd The Man was a huge fan.  He loveddddd them too!

Good thing they freeze too – looks like we’ll have some to save for another night.  Love that.

Have you ever tried making tamales at home? 

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s bedtime for this old lady.  Last night’s festivities took it outta me! 😛


7 responses to “Total Tamale Success!

  1. WOW! I’ve never even tried tamales (but I want to)- these look so good! What a great experiment. Perfect dinner for the first day of the year. Now I’m craving Mexican…

  2. Tamales are like my fave food ever! I can’t believe you made them, I ‘m SOOO impressed. And jealous. Because I want them 🙂

  3. I’ve never made or had tamales but yours look amazing! Do you eat the husk?

  4. onioncloute

    I’ve only made tamales at restaurants where I’ve worked, never at home. That’s so ambitious – I’m impressed! They look fantastic – maybe I’ll try my own this weekend. yumm. (oh, and I love your excel diagram, btw!)

  5. Pingback: Tamales, Tamales, Ole! |

  6. Pingback: Tamales, Tamales, Ole! | Organic Food Connoisseur

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