Authentic Beef Tamales
- 3 pounds corn husks/hojas
- Hot water to cover
- 1 (6 pound) brisket
- 1 onion
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 6 peppercorns
- 8 dried ancho chiles
- 1 tablespoon comino (cumin) seeds
- Water to cover
- 1/2 pound lard (healthier option: 1 cup canola oil
- 6 pounds masa from tamale factory OR 4 pounds masa harina
- 1/2 pound lard (Healthier option: 2 cups canola oil)
- 6 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups broth from beef filling
- Corn Husks/Hojas: Hojas are corn husks that are dry
and papery but usually clean of silks, trimmed, flattened and ready for
use. To soften them, pour plenty of very hot water over them and leave
to soak for several hours or overnight. Shake well to get rid of excess
water and pat them dry with a towel.
- Beef Filling: Cut the brisket into large squares
and put into a large pot with the onion, garlic, salt, and peppercorns.
Cover the beef with water and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and
simmer until tender – about 3 hours.
- Set the beef aside to cool off in the broth. Strain, reserving the
broth, and chop beef with garlic roughly.
- Cover chiles and comino seeds with water and bring to a boil. Let
them stand until chiles are soft and water cools. When they are cool
enough to handle, slit them open and remove seeds and veins. Using a
molcajete or a blender to grind/blend them along with the comino into a
- Melt lard, add chile paste and sautée for about 3 minutes stirring
all the time. Add beef and garlic, continuing to cook for the flavors to
meld. Add 1/2 cup of the broth and let the mixture cook for about 10
minutes over a medium flame. Filling should not be watery. Add salt as
- Masa: If you get your masa from a tamale or
tortilla factory, ask for masa for tamales or masa quebradita. If you
use masa harina, get the one for tamales and follow the directions.
- Melt the lard. Use a large mixer to mix masa, salt, baking soda,
broth, and the lard (one cup at a time). Continue beating for 10 minutes
or so, until 1/2 teaspoon of the masa floats in a cup of cold water. If it
floats you can be sure the tamales will be tender and light. If it
doesn’t float, beat more melted lard into the mixture. Beat until fluffy
and semi-shiny. Masa should be of a stiff consistency but spreadable.
- Making the Tamales: Using a tablespoon or a knife
spread a thin coating of the masa over the broadest part of the corn
husk, allowing for turning down about 2 inches at the pointed top.
Spread the masa approximately 3 inches wide and 3 1/2 inches long.
- Spoon some beef filling down the middle of the dough (about 1
tablespoon). Fold the sides of the corn husks together firmly. Fold up
the empty 2 inch section of the husk, forming a tightly closed “bottom”
and leaving the top open.
- Cooking the Tamales: Fill the bottom of large soup
pot or a tamale steamer with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil.
- If using a pot, either put a molcajete, bowl or ball of aluminum
foil at the bottom of the pot and fill in with leftover corn husks.
Stack the tamales upright, with the folded part down at the bottom. Pack
firmly but not tightly. Cover the tamales with more corn shucks. Cover
the top of the steamer with a dishcloth or thick cloth, or cover the pot
with a tightly fitting lid.
- Cook tamales for about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours over a medium flame.
Keep water in a teapot simmering so that you can refill the pot when
necessary. If you use a tamale steamer you should not have to add any
- To test the tamales for doneness, remove one from the center, and
one from the side of the pot. Tamales are done when you open the corn
husk, and the masa peels away easily from the shucks and the tamale is
Nutrition information per serving: Calories 230; Total Fat 13 g (Sat.
Fat 1.5 g; Trans Fat 0 g); Cholest. 25 mg; Sodium 350 mg; Total Carb. 19 g;
Fiber 2 g;Total Sugars 0g; Protein 37g; Vit. D (2%DV); Calcium (30%DV); Iron
(25%DV); Potas. (15%DV)
Recipe and photo credit (used with permission):
Texas Beef Team