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Tamales - Steamed Stuffed Corn Dumplings

The Two Faces of a Couple Tamales

Two tamales. One in the wrapping and one out of the wrapping

Two tamales. One in the wrapping and one out of the wrapping

The dough is mixed together with a mixer. The baking powder and salt is added to the chicken broth, then since I had just cooked up some pork sausage, I retained the grease from the sausage and used that for my lard in my tamales.

Apparently, if I had not had the sausage grease, I could have used butter, or shortening. At any rate, I used the sausage grease. Then, after it was mixed together, it sat until the rest of my ingredients were cooked through.

The broth is heated with the microwave for 40 seconds and then the baking powder and salt is added. The corn flour is added and I used the mixer for 2 minutes. Then, you add the lard mixture and after it is mixed well, it is left to sit while you prepare the meat/vegetable/spice mixture.

The meat filling starts out as some butter and some minced onion and sweet pepper. After the butter browns the vegetables, a cup of water with spices is added and the mixture is brought to a boil, then simmered until it is merged and softened. Then, a can of chicken breast is added and then the tamale filling process commences.

Ingredients

  • tamala flour
  • chicken broth
  • salt
  • baking powder
  • pork sausage grease
  • cumin
  • oregano
  • onion
  • sweet pepper
  • butter

Since I live within 50 feet of a cornfield, I walked out to a few cornstalks and picked some corn stalk fronds, or leaves. One recipe I looked up said to split one of the leaves so that the tamales could be tied shut, but I used some cotton string.


The dough is slightly sticky, and resembles a cookie dough consistency. It is smeared onto a blade of corn leaf. It sticks to the leaf, and I made a smooshed mass that was baby finger thick and as wide as the corn leaf and about five inches long.

Then, I placed a spoonful of meat/vegetable mixture on the dough and brought the edges of the leaf up around it. I used a second leaf to cover the sides, and then, brought it up and twirled my string around it and then tied it together.

I tied it shut, and then placed the bundle into my rice steamer. I had a cup of water on the bottom of the steamer, and the metal plate above the water. I repeated the process for the rest of the bundles.

This was the first time I put my steamer to use, and it worked great. It kept my corn leaf wrapped bundles up above the water and they were in there for 50 minutes, then I shut the machine off and let the tamales sit. We actually left the house and went to the neighbors house for a while and came back.

The test of a tamale for doneness is if it falls out of the corn leaf. If it sticks, it isn't cooked enough. Mine were cooked and cooled just perfectly.

The flavor was awesome as well.

The bag of flour suggests using water to mix with the flour. The authentic flavor comes from using the same water you use to boil your meat, but since I used canned, I had purchased a box of chicken broth to use instead.

The grease from cooking the sausage I was using for a different recipe, was a combination of grease from the sausage and juices that were of course, part of frying sausage.

chicken broth instead of water.

chicken broth instead of water.

Sausage grease in the bowl. Broth in the cup.

Sausage grease in the bowl. Broth in the cup.

broth plus baking powder and salt.

broth plus baking powder and salt.

tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings

Making Tamale Dough

Add baking powder/salted broth to flour

Add baking powder/salted broth to flour

use mixer to mix.

use mixer to mix.

When it starts to clump, add sausage water aka lard water

When it starts to clump, add sausage water aka lard water

mix in the sausage water

mix in the sausage water

set aside until ready to use.

set aside until ready to use.

Making Meat MIxture

use broth.

use broth.

tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings
cut onions and peppers

cut onions and peppers

use spices

use spices

small amounts of each

small amounts of each

Add Spices to Broth

spiced up broth

spiced up broth

garlic to broth

garlic to broth

butter in small pan

butter in small pan

Onions and Peppers Browned in Butter in Small Pan

onion and sweet pepper

onion and sweet pepper

brown in butter

brown in butter

add spiced up broth

add spiced up broth

simmer until vegies are tender

simmer until vegies are tender

tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings
tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings
tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings

I used an electric rice steamer to cook my tamales. I had purchased it last year and it sat idle until now. We buy a lot of rice packages, but the steamer is more for doing real recipes with rice, so I never thought to use it, nor had a reason.

But now, it seems like the perfect choice to use for making these tamales. Easy to use. There is a crock pot, and a metal plate, markings for water, and an on/off switch. Yes. It's as easy as putting a cup of water in the bottom, adding the plate, making the tamales and placing them in the crock pot and closing the lid, and pressing on. It takes 50 minutes, no peeking, and voila, they are done.

tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings
tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings
tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings

So. At this point, I had the steamer ready to go with a cup of water under the plate. I then took the corn leaves I had cut from the corn stalk, and smeared an amount of dough across the middle of it. The dough will literally stick to the leaf.

I smeared tamale dough on a few leaves, then, took a spoonful of chicken infused broth and put it on the tamale dough. Then, I pulled the ends of the corn leaf up and took another corn leaf and wrapped up and around the sides. Then, I used the cotton string and tied it shut. Placed the bundle in the steamer and wrapped another one. The tamales sit very nicely in the steamer.

tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings
tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings
tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings
tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings
tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings
tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings
tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings
tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings
tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings
tamales-steamed-stuffed-corn-dumplings

According to some comments I read online, the true test of doneness of a tamale is if it releases from the corn leaf. If it is done, the corn leaf will not be stuck to it. Remember how sticky the dough was to start with?

Remove the tamale from the leaf. Discard the string and the corn leaf.


Comments

Char Milbrett (author) from Minnesota on September 16, 2021:

Hey Peggy Woods, thank you for your comment. They were good. You will let me know if you try making some...

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 16, 2021:

I enjoy eating tamales but have never made them. Thanks for your instructions and photos regarding the process of making them.

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