Pick-a-Filling Tamales | Midwest Living

Pick-a-Filling Tamales

Pick-a-Filling Tamales

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  • Makes: 20 servings
  • Yield: 40 tamales
  • Hands On 1 hr
  • Total Time 2 hrs

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Tamales are easy, as long as you have extra hands. That's why in Mexico, most women do it with family. So team up with a friend or two and arrange an assembly line to make 40 or more. Then freeze 'em, so you can pull out a few at a time for meals.


  • 1/2 cup shortening, chilled (4 ounces)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 1/2 cups masa harina
  • 2 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder (optional)
  • 40 corn husks
  • Chicken, Chorizo or Cheese filling (recipes follow)


  1. In a large mixing bowl beat shortening, butter, salt, and baking powder with an electric mixer on medium speed about 2 minutes or until smooth. In a medium bowl stir together masa harina and chili powder, if using. Alternately add masa harina mixture and broth to shortening mixture, beating until mixture resembles a thick, creamy paste. Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl cover the corn husks with boiling water. Weigh them down with a plate to keep submerged. Let stand 30 to 45 minutes or until cornhusks are soft and pliable. Drain well; pat dry with paper towels.
  3. To assemble each tamale, starting about 1 inch from the narrow end of a cornhusk, spread about 2 tablespoons of the dough into a 4x3-inch rectangle so one of the long sides of the dough is at a long edge of the husk. Spoon 1 rounded tablespoon of the desired filling down center of dough. Fold long edge of husk over filling so it brings edges of masa together, encapsulating filling. Overlap long ends of husk and roll around outside of filled dough. Fold bottom of tamale up and secure with strips of cornhusk or 100%-cotton kitchen string. Place fold-side down on a platter until all tamales are assembled.
  4. To steam tamales, pour enough water into the bottom of an extra-large Dutch oven to reach a depth of 1 1/2 inches. Bring to boiling. Stand tamales upright in a steamer basket (if desired, place a cone-shape ball of foil in the center of the basket). Don't pack them in too tightly, but fill the space. Carefully place basket in Dutch oven over boiling water. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and steam for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until dough easily pulls away from cornhusks and is spongy and cooked through. Uncover and let stand 10 minutes before serving.


  • Chicken filling In a large saucepan, cook 1 cup finely chopped onion in 1 teaspoon hot olive oil over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Carefully add 3/4 cup canned tomato sauce and 3 tablespoons taco seasoning mix. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes or until thickened. Stir in 21/2 cups finely shredded cooked chicken, 1/2 cup chicken broth and one undrained 4-ounce can of diced green chiles. Cook and stir until heated through. Cool to room temperature before using.


  • Chorizo filling In a large skillet, cook 1 pound chorizo sausage over medium-high heat until browned; drain. If necessary, pulse in a food processor until the pieces are pea-size. Follow the Chicken filling recipe, omitting the broth and chicken and using 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix.


  • Cheese filling In a large bowl, toss together 3 cups shredded Monterey Jack or pepper Jack cheese, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and 2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix. Stir in two drained 4-ounce cans diced green chiles.

Nutrition Facts

(Pick-a-Filling Tamales)

Servings Per Recipe 20, Cobalamin (Vit. B12) (µg) 0, Folate (µg) 15, sodium (mg) 529, Riboflavin (mg) 0, Thiamin (mg) 0, Pyridoxine (Vit. B6) (mg) 0, Niacin (mg) 2, cal. (kcal) 210, chol. (mg) 28, Fat, total (g) 12, fiber (g) 2, pro. (g) 8, calcium (mg) 55, Trans fatty acid (g) 1, Potassium (mg) 152, vit. C (mg) 1, sugar (g) 1, vit. A (IU) 213, iron (mg) 1, carb. (g) 19, sat. fat (g) 5, Polyunsaturated fat (g) 2, Monounsaturated fat (g) 4

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