TRADITIONAL TAMALES WITH RED CHILE BEEF FILLING

These were my Mother’s all-time favorite tamales. They are delicious, especially when served with the red chile sauce recipe that follows.

Yield: 5 to 6 dozen tamales

The Filling:

1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat

Beef boullion or broth

1-1/2 tablespoons butter or bacon drippings

1/2 teaspoon garlic (1 clove), minced

1/2 cup ground pure hot Pecos Valley Spice Co red chile

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground Mexican oregano

1 to 2 cups reserved meat stock

  1. 1. Simmer the meat in just enough beef boullion or beef broth to cover and cook until tender. Reserve the stock. Cut the meat in very small cubes or chop in a food processor. In a heavy skillet, brown the meat in the butter

  1. 2. After the meat has browned, add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, cool slightly and add the ground chile. Season with salt and oregano. Add a cup of meat stock and simmer the sauce uncovered, stirring regularly for 15 to 20 minutes. Continue to add stock little by little as it blends in to make a thick, smooth filling. The balance of the stock can be used in making the red chile sauce.

The Masa (Cornmeal Mixture):

3-1/2 cups warm water

6 cups tamale masa

2 cups lard (1 pound)

1-3/4 teaspoons salt

  1. 1. Add 3-1/2 cups warm water to the masa to make a very thick mixture that holds together. Immediately add ½ cup cool water and mix in with your hands to prevent any lumps from forming. Continue to periodically add COLD water, about ¼ cup at a time until the masa is the texture of pudding.

  1. 2. Using medium speed on an electric mixer, cream the lard with the salt until very fluffy and it floats on cold water. Combine the lard with the masa and mix well using the lowest speed of the electric mixer.

The Cornhusks:

5-6 dozen corn husks, soaked in warm water

Hot water

1. Soak the corn husks in hot water until soft and pliable. Cool to room temperature before rolling the tamales.

2. Spread about 2 tablespoons of masa mixture on each softened corn husk, making a rectangle about 3 by 4 inches and leaving at least a 2-inch margin of husk around the edges. Next, place a strip of the meat filling in a strip down the center of each tamale, being careful not to place too much filling in each.

3. Twist the top of the tamale and tie with a bow. Fold the bottom of the husk up and loosely tie the bottom end with a strip of corn husk. If you plan to freeze the tamales, do so at this point, before steaming them.

4. Stand the tamales upright on a rack with the bottom or wide end down in a large kettle or pressure cooker. Before the rack is completely filled, add water to wick up about 1/4-inch into the rack. Steam the tamales in a conventional steamer for 45 minutes, or in a pressure cooker under 15 pounds pressure for 20 minutes. Serve with sauce, either the thinned meat filling in this recipe or the Red Chile Sauce.

Note: Any leftover masa or meat mixture can be frozen. Leftover filling can be added to the Red Chile Sauce. The steamed tamales can also be frozen. Each can be frozen for up to a year!


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