I LOVE TAMALES! Any kind. Any shape. Any flavor. There is something about the texture of the masa that is so comforting to me. (( I admit, it may be because I grew up with a mom that made fabulous tamales. But still.)) The masa is creamy and yet fluffy at the same time. A culinary wonder! Tamales are a traditional holiday food in the American southwest and in many south-of-the-border countries.
But. They are a LOT of work. Just for instance, check out Chowhound's videos about tamale making. My Mom and I would make tamales for Christmas - one year we made 100 dozen - yes, that's 1,200 tamales! - and it took us two very long, grueling days. It was worth it, though: we gave them out to friends and family for presents and got rave reviews!. We loved being the Tamale Fairies!
With my life as insanely busy as it is, I was determined to make a shortcut version that has all the flavor and textures of the old school version. Not quite as perfect as those in my memory, perhaps, but very close. So, with that in mind, I decided to avoid the wrapping in corn husks and just cooked the masa like you would individual custards in ramekins set in a water bath. Then, thought I, I will just make the filling and top the individual masa servings with filling and serve them that way. Sort of "inside-out" tamales, if you will.
And the verdict? - - - drum roll please . . .
They are wonderful! They satisfied my craving for that amazing masa taste and texture - and with a fraction of the time and hassle. You won't find anything out there like these - I searched the blog-o-sphere. All the results of a search for "easy tamale" resulted in blog posts about "tamale pie" or "tamale casserole." I did love the Homesick Texan's post about doing a "tamale party" in which, Tom Sawyer style, you enlist your friends and neighbors into helping with the tamale mass production. But this easy shortcut way to do tamales is an Everyday Southwest Exclusive!!!
If you love tamales, but have avoided making them because they are just too much work --- try this simplified recipe. But I'm warning you: you will have to make them again and again. And again!
SHORTCUT INSIDE-OUT TAMALES
7 cups fresh or frozen thawed corn
¾ cup unsalted butter, lard or vegetable shortening, at room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup masa harina
Filling of choice for tamales (I used shredded pork and red chile sauce)
Blend in blender 6 cups of the corn until smooth. Blend the remaining 1 cup of corn in blender until only small chunks remain. Stir the two batches of corn together in a large mixing bowl. Mix in all remaining ingredients (except filling). Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to overnight. (NOTE: Don't skip this step. The dough needs to rest in order to hydrate the masa correctly. Otherwise, these will have a "grainy" texture.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter 8 1-cup ramekins and set in a large roasting pan. Fill each ramekin with ⅔ cup masa mixture. Pour hot water around ramekins, filling pan halfway up sides of ramekins. Cover with aluminum foil.
Bake for one hour.
Remove from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes. Cut around inside edge of ramekin with a knife and invert onto serving plates. Top with your favorite tamale filling. (I used shredded pork in a red chile sauce and lots of olives).
-- posted by Donna
What a wonderful idea!! I have never attempted tamales because of the stories I've always heard about how time consuming they are, but I love to eat them...thanks for sharing this so that I can now make them at home!
Karen - these are so easy with all the flavors and textures of "real" tamales!
Great idea! Mom's tamales made fast and easy enough for tonight's dinner!
Yes, Sandy, Agreed! Our mom's tamales are not just a recipe, they're a legacy! I wish I had discovered this method years ago so that my kids could have grown up eating mom's tamales more often!
What a divine looking dish! Thanks for sharing the recipe, also has the right kind of flavors I absolutely love 🙂
Kimba - Thanks! I'm hoping you'll try these - with this or any other favorite tamale topping!
Laura @ Family Spice
Great idea! I love short cuts and this one sounds terrific!
Laura - This is one shortcut that doesn't cut out flavor!
Hi! Just found you on the Hive...Love, love, Love tamales and make 'em every Christmas with smoked pork and homemade enchilada sauce. I'll have to try your version...looks so easy! I'm adding you to my reader and look forward to catching up on your posts~
Hey there Frieda! Please come back and visit again soon - we may even have a giveaway going soon!
These look easy enough even for me to try!
Hurray! Donna's tamales in a version fit for me, the get-in-and-get-out-of-the-kitchen cook! Can't wait to try these.
Lisa - Do try these! And come back and let us know what you think!
Found you through Pinterest! I'm making these for dinner tonight! Love tamales!
Lisa - I am with you - I love tamales in any way, shape or form.
thanks for this! I also searched the Internet and couldn't bear to try the recipes using cornbread mix! I'm from South Texas, and I wanted to make a tamale dish for a pot luck. I don;t have time for the real deal, this is awesome, thanks!
Miriam - tamale dishes are a MUST for our family at Christmas - so happy you like my shortcut version!
I'm heading out to buy my ingredients! I think I might top them with a chicken mole- can't wait!!
the tamales were a success, you saved my day! I can't wait to make these again! So yummy and simple!
Miriam - No, it is YOU who have made MY day! Comments like yours is the reason I love food blogging. Happy Holidays to you and yours.
Awesome recipe idea!! I was very disappointed that I was unable to copy the recipe so I could take it to my kitchen for preparation!! 🙁
Hi Dianne - Thanks for your comment. I do agree that the "print" feature would be nice to have, but we couldn't add this to all our older posts.