Chef Jorge Guzmán of Petite León in Minneapolis uses two kinds of toasted dried chiles in the braised brisket filling for these tamales, creating deep, layered flavor.

Source: Midwest Living


Credit: Kevin Miyazaki

Recipe Summary

1 hr 30 mins
5 hrs
24 tamales




Instructions Checklist
  • For filling: Preheat oven to 450°. Line a 15×10-inch baking pan with foil. Spread tomatoes and onion wedges in pan. Bake until charred and blistered, turning occasionally and removing items from oven as they are done, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly, then puree tomatoes in a blender or food processor. Chop onion.

  • In a dry extra-large skillet, toast garlic and cinnamon over medium for 2 minutes. Add fennel and cumin; toast, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes more. Remove from skillet. Remove skins from garlic. Grind fennel and cumin with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

  • Toast chiles in batches in the same dry skillet until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from skillet.

  • In a 6-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high. Add charred onion and toasted garlic; cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in chiles; cook 2 minutes more.

  • Add pureed tomatoes, chicken stock, ground fennel and cumin, the cinnamon stick, and oregano to Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavor develops, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard cinnamon stick. Transfer tomato mixture to a blender or food processor; cover and blend until smooth. Season with salt.

  • Melt 2 tablespoons lard in the Dutch oven over medium-high. Add brisket, in batches if necessary, and cook until browned on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, remove brisket from Dutch oven. Add tomato mixture to hot drippings in Dutch oven in a steady stream while whisking. Return brisket to Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and cook until brisket is tender and shreds easily, 3 to 4 hours. Let brisket cool in Dutch oven, then shred it using two forks.

  • For masa: Place lard in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium until light and fluffy. Add 1 tablespoon chicken stock and the salt. Continue beating until light and fluffy. Add masa harina and baking powder; beat 1 minute. Remove masa from the mixer and separate into four portions.

  • With the mixer running, alternately add the remaining stock and the masa portions. Continue beating until dough is aerated and fluffy, about 10 minutes. The masa is ready when a dollop of dough floats in cold water.

  • Meanwhile, place husks in a very large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand until soft, 30 to 45 minutes. Drain well; pat dry.

  • To assemble tamales: Lay a corn husk on the work surface with the narrow end close to you. Spoon a good dollop (about 3 rounded tablespoons) of masa about 1 inch from the wide end. Press a divot into the masa with the back of a spoon and fill it with about 2 tablespoons of filling. Press filling flat with the back of the spoon. Bring the sides of the corn husk together over the filling. Grasp the closed corn husk above the filling. Press down with one hand while pulling up the sides of the corn husk with your other hand to enclose the filling with masa and shape the mixture into a cylinder. Roll the corn husk around the cylinder, then fold the narrow end up toward the opposite end, pressing to compact the cylinder further. Tie with a corn husk strip, if you like. (But you don't need it.) Place tamales on a platter or in a bowl with open ends up until all are assembled.

  • To steam tamales: Place a large steamer basket in an 8-quart pot. Add water to just below the basket. Stand tamales upright in steamer basket with open ends up. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and steam until corn husks easily pull away from masa and masa is spongy and cooked through, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Uncover; let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve tamales with salsa and crema.


Layer cooled tamales (in husks) in an airtight container. Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw tamales in the refrigerator overnight. To reheat, place a few tamales on a plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high 1 to 2 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

215 calories; fat 15g; cholesterol 36mg; saturated fat 5g; carbohydrates 12g; mono fat 6g; poly fat 1g; insoluble fiber 2g; sugars 1g; protein 9g; vitamin a 1574.9IU; vitamin c 4.9mg; riboflavin 0.2mg; niacin equivalents 1.8mg; vitamin b6 0.3mg; folate 10.6mcg; vitamin b12 0.6mcg; sodium 188mg; potassium 193mg; calcium 38mg; iron 1.9mg.