Tamales – A Celebration



Autumn arrived with a blast of cold air and a bit of mild rain.

As we set our gardens to auto water via Mother Nature and we begin to ignite fires with our fireplaces rather than our BBQs we prepare for the wonder of winter.

This is the time of year it’s easy to stop our regular walking routines, indulge in heavy and not so good for our waist foods and sink into the doldrums.

How can we prepare and make winter wonderful?

For me it’s about the food. Lately I’ve been dreaming in steamed masa.  The smell of fresh tamales cooking and the warmth of the house filled with the excited peoples awaiting  their pot exit.  I loved finding the recipe below – a bit lighter than the “traditional” recipes with the note of how to steam them in the oven.  More recipes may be found on the cooking light site.  Holidays don’t have to add the weight to our hips.  I also like it because the tamales can easily be transported with this method ready for cooking – just add the water to the broiler pan.  Trying to get tamales to stand in the steamer just so then get them to another kitchen or event to cook can be a frustrating struggle.

Serve with some – Tea & Spice Matcha Chai Recipe

Cooking Light Inspirations

How to Make Traditional Tamales

Photo: Lee Harrelson

Pork and Ancho Chile Tamales with Mexican Red Sauce

For ease, make the pork mixture for these tamales a day or two ahead. The recipe makes quite a few servings; serve with Spanish saffron-flavored rice for a fun evening with friends.


  • 24 dried corn husks
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fat-free
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  • 1 ancho chile, stemmed
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 1/2 cups Basic Masa Dough
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 1/4 cups Mexican hot-style tomato sauce
  • Lime wedges (optional)


  • 1. Place corn husks in a large bowl; cover with water. Weight husks down with a can; soak 30 minutes. Drain husks.
  • 2. Combine broth, cherries, and ancho chile in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave at HIGH for 2 minutes or until cherries and ancho are tender. Combine broth mixture, onion, and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a blender; process until mixture is smooth. Reserve 1/2 cup broth mixture; cover and chill. Place remaining broth mixture in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add pork; seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning bag occasionally.
  • 3. Preheat oven to 450°.
  • 4. Remove pork from bag, and discard marinade. Place pork on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 30 minutes or until a thermometer registers 155° (slightly pink). Let pork stand 20 minutes; shred pork with 2 forks. Toss shredded pork with reserved 1/2 cup broth mixture.
  • 5. Working with one husk at a time, place about 3 tablespoons Basic Masa Dough in the center of husk, about 1/2 inch from top of husk; press dough into a 4-inch-long by 3-inch-wide rectangle. Spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon pork mixture down one side of dough. Using the corn husk as your guide, fold husk over tamale, being sure to cover filling with dough; fold over 1 more time. Fold bottom end of husk under. Place tamale, seam side down, on the rack of a broiler pan lined with a damp towel. Repeat procedure with remaining husks, Basic Masa Dough, and filling. Cover filled tamales with another damp towel. Pour 2 cups hot water in the bottom of a broiler pan; top with prepared rack.
  • 6. Steam tamales at 450° for 55 minutes, adding water as necessary to maintain a depth of about 1/2 inch. Let tamales stand 10 minutes. Serve with sauce and lime wedges, if desired.

Julianna Grimes, Cooking Light

Traditional Tamales via the Oven

Traditionally, tamales are cooked in a tamalera, a metal pot with a steamer tray that can cook up to 6 dozen tamales. We found that you can achieve similar results with an oven method that doesn’t require special equipment. Place up to 2 dozen tamales on a broiler rack lined with a damp towel, cover tamales with another damp towel, and place rack in a broiler pan filled with hot water to a depth of about 1/2 inch. (Use old towels if possible because they may discolor.)


About Smoothie Essentials - ShelleRae

Welcome! I am ShelleRae and I am very excited you are here. I joined the Smoothie Essentials team about 5 years ago now. Always health conscious and into prevention versus medication it seemed natural when the opportunity came up to take on the creation of this blog and the MatchaGT blog as well. As mother to three and surrogate to many more I've practiced much of what I write on sometimes with great success and other times with a bit less. My friends and family are my test kitchen and my facts are most often from WebMD - they seem to have a fairly accurate and conservative approach. The Smoothie Essentials product is a line of boosts that add functionality to one's daily foods without adding flavor or colors. (except for MatchaGT and green blend) making it easy to "hide" them from the finicky eaters we all know and love. From stirring them into yogurts, smoothies, frappes and even juice drinks it all come out with the original flavor being center star.. My inspiration comes from others who also are striving to live a better life through lifestyle changes. More information is available at www.SmoothieEssentials.com or by emailing shelley@juicesolutions.com

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