MAINS

Beef Tamales

Hello, friends! Welcome to Djalali Cooks. Today’s post could be a part 2 of Saturday’s Red Wine Braised Short Ribs. Because today, we are using up those leftovers to make Beef Tamales. This worked out perfectly not only because I needed to use leftovers, but Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Some of you may recall last year on Style at a Certain Age, I shared my fondest Thanksgiving memory.

When I was young, we had Thanksgivings at my paternal grandparent’s house. My grandfather is of Mexican descent and so my grandmother always had tamales in addition to the American Thanksgiving staples. So, just in time for Thanksgiving, tamales seemed like the perfect way to use my short rib leftovers.

The Prep

Shredded Beef

Start off by soaking your corn husks in hot water about 4 hours before you plan to make your tamales. I put my husks in a water-filled Cambro at about 8 am, then around 11:30, I started prepping the rest of my ingredients. Then, I went about shredding the leftover short rib meat. I had a little leftover sauce that I mixed with the shredded meat to add a little more moisture, this is totally optional.

Masa

The Prep

It’s easiest to use a mixer for the masa, but you can do it by hand. In a medium bowl mix the salt with the masa harina and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the 2/3 cup solid shortening until it’s light and fluffy. Then alternate adding a little of the masa and a little broth, mixing well in between additions of each. Do this until all the masa and the broth are incorporated. Then slowly stream in the melted shortening and beat until the mixture resembles a thick cornbread-like batter.

Mixed Masa

The Set Up

Set up your assembly area so that everything is within an arm’s reach. I find it’s best to be by the sink for easy hand washing, or have a bowl with water nearby to rinse and wet your hands between tamales. I have a space between my sink and stove. So I set up my corn husk container in the sink and go from left to right, placing the wrapped tamales directly into the steaming pot on the right. Fill a steaming pot with about 2 inches of water and set the steamer basket inside.

The set up

I like to use a kitchen towel to line my workspace. This works to absorb water from the backside of a cornhusk and keep it in place as I spread the masa. Also, keep a second towel handy to blot the water from the inside of the husk. You want the inside relatively dry so the masa will stick to it and stay where you spread it. Take one husk and peel off thin strips to use as ties.

Beef Tamale Assembly

Masa spread in corn husk

Using a silicone spatula, scoop about 2-3 tablespoons of masa and spread it along the inside of the husk. The masa is pliable and forgiving so you can use wetted fingers to help shape it if you need to.

Spoon about one tablespoon of filling into the center. I am using the shredded short rib meat, a little sauce from the short ribs and some queso fresco. Use whatever you like, but keep it simple or else the tamales will have a hard time sealing up and cooking properly.

Fold up the bottom to get the masa to cover the tip, you can use wet fingers to help get it to come off the husk and stay on top of the filling.

Folding up bottom of tamale

Then, fold over each side.

Sides wrapped

Fold the bottom up and over the seam and tie with a strip of husk.

Wrapped and tied tamale

Pinch the top closed and stand upright in the steamer basket. Repeat this until you have used all your filling.

Wrapped in steamer pot

Don’t crowd them too tightly in the steamer basket, working in batches if you have to. I think I fit about 16 in this pot. Get your water boiling before placing the tamales in the pot. Slide the steamer basket in, cover the tamales with a few dry husks to insulate them further, cover with the lid and let steam on medium heat for an hour and 40 minutes.

Steaming in pot

Check for doneness by pulling one out with kitchen tongs and gently pulling back the husk. If the husk comes cleanly away from the masa, they’re ready. My tamales took about 1 hour 45 minutes.

Corn Husk wrapped Tamale

Beef Tamales might seem like a labor-intensive way to use leftovers, but it’s really worth it. Think of it as meal prep and freeze them for another day. And you don’t have to have made the Short Ribs; you can make tamales with leftover chicken, pot roast, pork shoulder….Heck, it doesn’t even have to be leftovers! Go get a rotisserie chicken and use that. Or make cheese and green chile tamales. The sky is the limit! The set up and the assembly are the same, no matter what filling you choose to use.

Plated Tamale

Thank you so much for stopping by today! I hope you give these tamales a try the next time you need to do something with leftovers. Remember, they don’t have to be Beef Tamales; get creative! Be sure to let me know if you make them and what you decide to fill them with. You can follow me on Instagram, Pinterest and facebook. Don’t be shy, drop me a line! Take care and be well, everyone! See you soon, xo Kelly

Beef Tamales and Beans

Beef Tamales

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Dinner, Lunch Mexican American
By Kelly Djalali Serves: 2-6
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 1 hour, 45-50 minutes Total Time: 2 hours, 30-40 minutes

Tamales are easy to make and perfect for freezing – just heat up whenever you need a quick meal. Fill them with your favorite meat and cheese, or use leftovers!

Ingredients

  • Masa
  • 4 cups Masa Harina
  • 2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/3 cup melted Lard or Vegetable Shortening
  • 2/3 cup solid Lard or Vegetable Shortening
  • 3 cups Chicken or Pork Broth
  • Tamales
  • Corn Husks, soaked in hot water for at least 3 hours
  • Shredded Meat (Pork, Chicken, or Beef)
  • Queso Fresco (optional)

Instructions

Masa

1

In a medium bowl mix the salt with the masa harina and set aside.

2

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the 2/3 cup solid shortening until it's light and fluffy.

3

Alternate adding a little of the masa flour and a little broth, mixing well in between additions of each. Do this until all the masa and the broth are incorporated.

4

Slowly stream in the melted shortening and beat until the mixture resembles a thick cornbread-like batter.

Tamales

5

Fill a steamer pot with 2 inches of water and set the steamer basket inside.

6

Take one husk and peel off thin strips to use as ties.

7

Take one husk and lightly blot the water from the inside of the husk. You want the inside relatively dry so the masa will stick to it and stay where you spread it.

8

Using a silicone spatula, scoop about 2-3 tablespoons of masa and spread it along the inside of the husk. The masa is pliable and forgiving so you can use wetted fingers to help shape it if you need to.

9

Spoon about one tablespoon of filling into the center.

10

Fold up the bottom to get the masa to cover the tip, you can use wet fingers to help get it to come off the husk and stay on top of the filling.

11

Then, fold over each side.

12

Fold the bottom up and over the seam and tie with a strip of husk.

13

Pinch the top closed and stand upright in the steamer basket. Repeat this until you have used all your filling.

14

Don't crowd them too tightly in the steamer basket, working in batches if you have to.

15

Get your water boiling before placing the tamales in the pot. Slide the steamer basket in, cover the tamales with a few dry husks to insulate them further, cover with the lid and let steam for an hour and 40 minutes.

16

Check for doneness by pulling one out with kitchen tongs and gently pulling back the top of the husk. If the husk comes cleanly away from the masa, they're ready.

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  • Deanna
    November 16, 2020 at 10:35 am

    One of my daughter’s fondest memories was being up in Michigan with the family of one of her friends. They had a tamale making day and made hundreds of them. I was jealous not to have been there for that! LOL! Also, up until we had to stop working in the office in March, the wife of one of our co-workers would make tamales and we could place orders with him for a coveted amount of tamales she would sell to us. Thanks for breaking down the steps. I think we need to give this a try. Going back to find the PIN option.

    • Kelly Djalali
      November 16, 2020 at 10:48 am

      Hi Deana, What a wonderful memory from your daughter. Getting the family involved and making it an assembly line is so much fun! And how cool to order homemade Tamales from your coworker’s wife! In my younger days in San Francisco, I so enjoyed when the Tamale Lady would make her rounds late night at the local bars in the Mission District. Ah tamales…I could eat them everyday! Thanks so much for writing in with your tamale memories! Also, there is a Social Sharing option to the right of the date at the bottom of each post, where you can pin to Pinterest. Thanks again! xo Kelly

  • Terry
    November 16, 2020 at 10:56 am

    Such a great idea for left overs never thought if this … I will definitely save this recipe. The short ribs we are having today. I’ll let you know
    Have a great day ❤️ Mom

    • Kelly Djalali
      November 16, 2020 at 11:06 am

      Hey Mom, sounds great! Let me know how you guys like the short ribs! Talk soon, xo Kelly

  • Peggy
    November 16, 2020 at 11:53 am

    These look great, I love your detailed instructions, always helpful. When I made tamales recently, it took longer than usual. I like your guidance if 1:45. Is that on simmer or medium? Thank you, Kelly!

    • Kelly Djalali
      November 16, 2020 at 12:14 pm

      Hi Peggy, thanks so much! I kept the heat up to medium for the steaming. I think if you simmer them, they will take about 2-2.5 hours. Every stovetop is a little different. It also depends on how thick you spread the masa, which is always going to be a little different for everyone…. But thankfully, these aren’t easy to mess up! Thanks so much for stopping by and writing in today. xo Kelly

  • Heidi
    November 17, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    I’ve made tamales before, but it was years ago and I didn’t understand that there’s no rule that says you have to make 100! I started them after work one evening and finally went to bed at 4 a.m. I love the idea of using leftover rib meat! There’s a tamale place I go to in Arizona and they have a version that is Pepper Jack cheese and spinach, amazing. I also love how well they freeze. I wrap them individually or in pairs. Once they are thawed out, just put on a microwavable dish, cover with a damp towel and zap for 2 minutes. Can’t wait for other Mexican recipes from your upbringing! Thanks, Kelly. 🙂

    • Kelly Djalali
      November 17, 2020 at 7:07 pm

      Hey Heidi! That’s hilarious and true – it always seems like when you’re in for tamale-making you’re in it for a hundred of them! I guess because it’s so labor-intensive, if you’re gonna do it, you might as well go all in. But it’s not that intense to only do a couple dozen. I will have more Mexican recipes…honestly, if I made posts about what I eat everyday, it would be all tacos and pizza! Thanks for stopping by, love ya! xo Kelly