Chorizo Tamales (take me away)

There are some weeks when you want to run away to here more than others.
Bureaucracy can do it. So can the etiquette of group emails, stubbing your toes, weeks of drenching rain, ripping the zip on your favourite boots and just a general dose of mild disappointment.
There are nights when a glass of pink wine wine doesn’t cut it. Not even a carafe of  ballsy red will do. It’s time for a margarita. I like the sting from the salt on the rim. I like it when the tequila is so cold it gives you an ice cream headache that makes you grimace.
There aren’t any trips back to Mexico on our horizon.  But that’s not going to stop me indulging  my love the for the  country this Cinco de Mayo day- which luckily falls on a Saturday.  I’m especially pleased about this. For one it gives me an excuse to have another margarita. And it also gives me time to make these again.
Tamales aren’t known for being a quick slap dash dish. First there’s the dough. It’s made from a flour made of corn, known as masa. That gets beaten with lard and stock until it’s as fluffy as pillow stuffing.
Then there’s the filling. It’s traditionally pork, chillis or chicken, though there are sweet ones too.

Then there’s the whole rigmarole of the casing. Both the stuffing and the dough need to be rolled up in softened corn husks. And then they get steamed.

Tamales are often made for days of celebration, by a crowd; for a crowd.

I’ve stuffed mine with a mix of cheese, spicy chorizo, coriander and red onion. The fat and stock often comes as relics of a roast chicken dinner. I’ve also done them with sweet corn, coriander and goat cheese and other times with pulled pork that’s been cooked in pineapple juice and beer.

Making tamales is  a meditative activity, not unlike wrapping Christmas presents. It forces you to slow down and appreciate the good things. Like the fact that other boot isn’t broken.  Great family. Red tulips on the table.  And that anytime I want to I can run straight back to the Mexico that lives in my head.
That’s a place where the sky is always blue.

Tamales with chorizo, onion and coriander

Makes 10-12 tamales

These are a great starter for a Mexican feast. They’re not what you’d call a quick, slap together snack. There’s a reason that they’re usually made in batches of twenty (or hundreds). But they’re worth trying, if only for the way the gentle sweetness of the corn dough melds with the spicy filling. It makes for a very different, and good, kind of sausage roll.

1 stock pot with a steamer basket. 1 electric mixer with a dough hook. 1 large bowl. 1 fry pan.


Tamale dough
 2 cups masa harina
1 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup lard
12- 14 dried corn husks

2 red onions, thinly sliced
125 grams of chorizo, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of coriander/cilantro stems, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of grated mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon of ground cumin

Dipping sauce

1/2 cup of sour cream
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons of coriander/cilantro leaves, chopped

Here’s how we roll 

1. Soak the corn husks in some warm water to soften them.

2. Make the filling by sautéing the chorizo and onion together until the onion is wilted. Add the cumin, cheese and coriander stems. Put aside to cool.

3. Get a large bowl in a mix master, or with an electric hand held mixer with a dough attachment. Beat the lard with a tablespoon of the stock until it’s fluffy.

4. In another bowl mix together the masa harina, baking powder and salt. Stir that into the lard and stock and start mixing. Add the stock, bit by bit until you have a spongy dough. You will need to mix for at least five minutes to ensure the dough is nice and spongy.

5. Start a production line to fill the tamales. Dry off the now soft corn husks. Hold one in your hand so the point of the triangle is facing away from you. Spoon two tablespoons of the dough into a square in the bottom left hand corner about 1/8th of an inch thick, leaving at least a 5mm perimeter from the edge of the corn husk.

6. Spoon a tablespoon of the filing into a stripe down the centre of the square. Roll one side of the casing over to meet the other side, checking to see if the edges of the dough meet up and scrunching down tightly with the husk to keep it tight (like you would if you were rolling sushi).
7. Fold the pointy bit at the bottom in and then keep rolling until there is just the opening where the widest part of the triangle was.

8. Secure the cigar shape with by tying it together with one of the strips of another corn husk.

9. Steam the tamales for an hour and a half. Careful when reaching over to check them-steam burns.

10. Mix together the sour cream, lime juice and coriander for a dipping sauce. Serve with the cooked tamales.
  1. Your tamales look wonderful. Looks like they are a lot of work.

  2. Wow! I have 1. Never tried chorizo, and 2. Never tried a tamale. Looks like I need to step up my game next Cinco De Mayo, haha. I wouldn’t even know where to find dried corn husks though…

  3. Looks fantastic! We had Mexican in honour of the day but I think next year we’ll have to make our own feast. Love your dedication – even makign your own dough!

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