These Amazing Beef Mexican Tamales are exactly that, AMAZING! They're made with a succulent beef mixture, surrounded by a fluffy, moist masa dough and topped with a red chile sauce or salsa verde. Absolutely delicious! A true Mexican staple and very easy to make with this step-by-step guide with pictures.
Friends, I’m not even sure were to begin talking to you about these delicious Mexican Tamales. Why? Because there is so much to say about them! Mexican Tamales is one of those foods that many of us love but are probably too afraid and hesitant to make because the idea of undertaking something that seems so complicated scares us off. But no worries my friends, I’m here to tell you that they are not! Prior to me ever making tamales, I felt the same way! I promise you, you will not feel that way after you make them, especially after your first time! You will be surprised to see how easy they really are and wonder how could you have waited all this time to acquire the nerve to make these.
But before we get into all that, let’s talk a little bit about these delicious babies.
Tamales originated from Mesoamerica, which stretches from southern Mexico to Guatemala.
Tamales can be traced back to the Aztecs and the Mayan people, as far back as 5000 BC.
They are made from masa which is a cornmeal flour and are wrapped in corn husks or plantain leaves and steamed, baked or boiled. They are commonly served with either a red or green chile sauce (salsa verde).
They can be filled with chicken, pork, beef or seafood. There are also sweet tamales or “tamales dulces” which may or may not have food coloring to give them that look of “sweetness.” Sweet tamales may have raisins, cinnamon, pineapple, coconut, prunes, jams, dulce de leche, guava, etc.
Tamales have always been a comfort food in Mexico as well as a food of celebration. They are commonly served for Christmas, New Year’s and Day of the Dead, but are also a very typical family affair for regular celebrations.
A step by step guide to making Mexican Tamales and recipe follows…
Carefully separate corn husks and soak in water for at least 40 minutes. I soaked mine in my kitchen sink.
In a saucepan, heat chiles with onion and garlic with water for 15 minutes or until soft.
Once softened, remove stems and seeds.
After placing chiles, onion and garlic in blender, strain skin and any leftover seeds through strainer to extract sauce.
After beef has been cooked, shred into smaller pieces.
Add the chile sauce to the beef.
For the masa, I use Maseca brand instant corn masa mix. You can find Maseca corn flour in most local supermarkets in the international aisle.
Your masa should look light and fluffy.
Spread the masa over a corn husk. Place the masa toward the left, leaving about 3 to 4 inches free from the bottom.
Add the beef mixture to center of the masa. Optional: add olives cut in half.
Fold one side of the corn husk over and then fold other side over to cover.
After both sides are folded, fold the bottom up and tie with a strip of corn husk.
Strip a small piece of corn husk and wrap bottom fold.
Here is an alternative if you do not have a steamer to steam your tamales. Use a big pot and place a smaller pot within it. Add the tamales to the smaller pot and add water to the bigger pot. The point here is to have tamales not touch water, just like a steamer would do. Cook for 1 hour.
Once done, unwrap the tamal, add sauce and enjoy!
If you cannot find corn husks or dried chiles in the international aisle of your local supermarket, you can also purchase them through Amazon.
16 corn husks plus one extra husk to make "tie" strips
For the Beef
2 to 3 pounds beef chuck or beef roast, cut into 2 inch cubes