Homemade tamales are something special.  Store bought ones just can't compare.  These take a while to make but the time and effort is worth it.


3 tbl

chili powder

2 tbl


2 tbl


4 tsp

ground cumin

4 tsp

2 tsp black pepper

Everything Else
24 corn husks (check the local supermarket in the ethnic section or in the produce section near the dried peppers)
2½ cups corn meal
1 tbl baking powder
12 tbl butter, cut into 1 tbl pieces
1¼ cup water
1¼ lb 80% lean ground beef
½ tsp baking soda
2 cloves garlic, run through a garlic press
2 tbl cornstarch
Put the corn husks in a baking dish and cover them with water.  Let the husks soak for 5 to 10 minutes,

Put the first 6 ingredients (the spices) in a bowl, mix well, and set aside.  Put the cornmeal and baking powder in a food processor with a blade (not dough blade) and pulse 3 or 4 times to mix the cornmeal and baking powder.  Add the butter and 2 tbl of the spices to the cornmeal mixture.  Pulse 8 times to mix everything together.  Add the water to the cornmeal mixture and let the food processor run for 30 seconds.  Remove ½ cup of the cornmeal mixture and set it aside.  Using a 2 tbl scoop, make 2 tbl balls of the cornmeal mixture and set them on a plate.

Put the meat, baking soda, 2 tbl water, reserved ½ cup of cornmeal mixture, garlic, and 3 tbl of the spice mixture in a mixing bowl.  Mix everything together well.  Using a scoop, make 2 tbl balls of the meat mixture and set them on a plate.

Remove the corn husks from the water and pat them dry.  Place a ball of the cornmeal mixture on one corner of the wide end of a corn husk.  Using a small frosting spatula, make a 3½” square of the cornmeal mixture by spreading it to the edge of one side of the long edge of the husk and approximately ½” from the end.  Now take one ball of the meat mixture and roll it into a log approximately 3½” long.  Place the meat in the middle of the cornmeal and roll the corn husk long ways starting at the edge with the cornmeal/meat mixture.  Fold the end of the corn husk up at the bottom of the tamale.  The tamale should sit in one side of the husk and there should be an empty side of the husk with a “hinge” at the bottom.  When you have 6 tamales, stack them on top of each other, 3, then 2, then one.  Tie the bundle together with cotton string and set aside.  Keep doing this until you have 4 bundles of 6 tamales for a total of 24.

Put the remaining spice mixture into a pot just big enough to hold the tamales and tall enough to be able to put a lid on.  Don’t worry about stirring the spices.  Place the tamales open end up in the pot and add enough water to bring it to approximately 1” below the top of the stuffed portion of the tamales.  Pour the water down the side of the pot, don’t pour the water over the tamales or it will ruin all the work you did wrapping them up,  Bring this to a boil, reduce to a simmer, put the lid on and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the tamales cook, stir 2 tbl of cornstarch into 2 tbl of water, stir to dissolve, and set aside.  When the tamales are done, take them out with some tongs, let them drain, and set them on a plate.  Now pour the cornstarch mixture in to the cooking water and stir well for about a minute while the sauce thickens.

To serve, unwrap as many tamales you want and place them on a plate and pour the thickened sauce over them.