Lessons Learned While Making Tamales

In my menu plan last week, I listed this tamale recipe that the daughter was going to help me make. There was actually a method to my madness in waiting until she was here to attempt them. She doesn’t frighten as easily as I do. She’s a pretty good cook and has in fact had people comment that she should cook and bake as a business. She thinks that would take the enjoyment out of it all.

Anyway, we thought last night that we would make the tamales up ahead of time so that all we would have to do is bake them when we got home from church. Sounds reasonable, right? Especially since I had cooked up the beef, garlic and onion ahead of time, so I was congratulating myself that we were ahead of the game. WRONG!

Lesson #1: READ THE RECIPE!!

You have to soak the corn husks in water overnight. So much for the early start, and you would think that I would have learned my lesson there. But did I read? Yeah. But not very well. We decided to make the dough ahead. The problem with that was that the dough goes on the corn husks after they have soaked all night and you have patted them dry. Our dough, therefore, went in the refrigerator.

Lesson #2: If you didn’t read the recipe very well the first time, make sure you go through it with a fine-tooth comb the second time.

After we got home from church, the hubby went out to putter in his shed and the daughter and I got busy on the tamales. I was all ready to bake them in the oven until the daughter read the recipe to me and informed me that they needed to be steamed.


We tried to figure out what we were going to steam them in and decided to get out my turkey roaster. Sounded good. Problem solved, right? The recipe says the water has to boil, so I turned the roaster to 250 which, last I heard was above boiling, and set the timer for 45 minutes. Then we waited. It was now almost three o’clock and we were all pretty hungry.

The big moment arrived, and the daughter and I called the hubby in to eat. He’s more coordinated than I am, so he volunteered was volunteered to get the tamales out of the roaster. They smelled pretty good, but they were RAW!! Evidently just cooking them in barely boiling water was not enough.

By this time, I was ready to throw the whole $12 experiment into the garbage and go out to eat, but the hubby and the daughter wouldn’t let me. We set the oven to 400 and put the tamales in. Pretty soon we could smell the corn husks. It smelled like they were burning.

Uh-oh. Again.

The pan the tamales were in was aluminum, so I had it sitting on a cookie sheet. I decided to pour water in the cookie sheet, and we resumed cooking. Twenty minutes later, we had tamales! ๐Ÿ™‚ And they were pretty good!

The hubby brought the Masa Harina flour that I had, in frustration, planned to donate to the foods teacher at school back in the house from my car.

I did end up throwing out some of the corn husks. There are a lot of them in the package, and I didn’t think of counting out what I needed before I soaked them. Other than that, though, the tamales were not as big a disaster as I had begun to fear. Which brings me to lesson #3: Appreciate the people in your life who don’t freeze in the face of disaster. I probably would have figured things out eventually, but I knew the daughter had to go back to Ohio and so I felt some pressure time-wise. She, however, kept her head and, as a result, I kept mine.

And for my menu plan next week, I will READ THE RECIPES!!


4 Responses to “Lessons Learned While Making Tamales”

  1. 1 jasmine31 January 28, 2008 at 11:30 am

    WOW! You are brave to try tamales. I have wanted to but I hear they take a few people helping and my dh always sounds leery whenever I bring it up. lol

  2. 2 realworldmartha January 28, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    I live in the southwest where tamales are a big deal. They are quite the challenge but worth it when done right. Most families around here make it a day event and crank them out and sell them or freeze them for the months ahead.

  3. 3 Becky January 28, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    They were worth it. I just didn’t realize all that was involved. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. 4 Hollis Baker March 5, 2010 at 11:52 am

    I enjoyed you post on making tamales. We have made tamales in our famaly for many years. I just recently posted my story on making tamales on my blog…hollisbaker.com
    Check it out…leave a coment.

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