Christmas Eve Tamales

Happy holidays!  I’m here with my family in Knoxville, helping my mom cook up a storm (now you know where I get it from!). We have no Mexican blood in any of us but my mother grew up in New Mexico so we have adopted the tamale and posole on Christmas Eve tradition and have been doing it since before I was born.  Today I will give you our family’s tamale recipe!  It’s hard to find organic ingredients in Knoxville so none of the ones used here are, but I’m sure you could find them all if you really tried.

The first step is to cook the meat.  I don’t have a slow cooker but my mom does so we threw it in there and cooked it over night (about 8 hours) on low.

IMG_1454Now the real fun begins!


Before you start cooking you need to separate the corn husks and soak in a large bowl of water.


CHILE CON CARNE (Sauce & Filling)

1 3/4 pounds pork tenderloin

3-4 tablespoons bacon drippings or lard (according to Weston A Price, lard is the best oil to cook with.  The jury is still out for me but my mom uses it so it’s in the blog)

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup ground red chile (my mom makes a red chile sauce.  Some day I’ll post the recipe for that)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon oregano, or more to suit taste

2 clove garlic, minced

1/3 cups meat stock (we used the juices from the slow cooker)

1. Simmer the pork in water to cover, using medium to low heat .  Cook until tender.  (This is the slower cooker step but I put this for those who don’t have one)

2. Shred the meat.

IMG_14573. Add the flour and lard and brown it, stirring constantly.  Add the chile sauce or powder.  Stir well.

IMG_14584. Season with salt, oregano, and garlic.   Add the stock.  Cook for a few minutes until well mixed and warm.  Now you have your meat filling.

MASA (Cornmeal Mixture)

4 cups masa harina

2 1/3 cups warm water

1 1/3 cups lard

1 1/3 teaspoons salt

Corn husks

1. Add water to the masa harina.

IMG_1460Cream the lard and salt, using a mixer at medium speed.

IMG_1459Combine the lard with the masa and mix well.

IMG_14612. Spread each corn husk with about two tablespoons masa and add one generous spoon of the meat filling.  (We like out tamales meaty so we put less masa and more meat).  Fold the bottom of the husk up and role the husk over the filling like a burrito.  (In this photo you see  the Cepeda women rolling our tamales!)


IMG_1466Our completed work!

3. Steam the tamales on a rack in a large steamer for 10-15 minutes.  My mom has a steamer but I don’t so if I were doing this at my place I’d do it in a large pot with a steamer basket.


4. To serve, remove husks and serve with red chile sauce.

IMG_1472 And there you have it!  Have a very merry Christmas and lots of happy cooking!










This entry was posted in Dinner.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s