Basic Recipe for Masa Harina? Dough
50 dried corn husks
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
4 cups Masa Harina?
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken or beef stock

Rinse and soak the corn husks in hot water until they are pliable, preferably overnight. Drain water from husks and use immediately. If the points had not been cut off before packaging, cut them off now.

With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat shortening until it is light and fluffy. Alternately mix in Masa Harina?, baking powder and salt with the stock until a firm dough is formed. The dough should be moist but not wet.

If the husks are small, place two husks together, with smooth side up. Spread a thin layer of dough (about 2 tablespoons) over an area about 3 inches square in the center of the husk(s). Place 1 tablespoon of preferred filling, then 1 tablespoon of sauce, on top of the dough. Fold the long sides of the husk over the dough, then fold the tips over the center, and tie shut with a thin strip of husk.

Place the tamales upright in the top of a large steamer, and cook until the dough separates easily from the husk (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). Do not let the husks touch the water. Check the pot every 15 minutes to determine if more water is needed. This recipe makes 25 tamales.

Beef with Ranch Sauce Filling
3 large tomatoes, peeled
4 to 6 Serrano chiles
1/2 medium onion
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt, to taste
6 cloves garlic
3 pounds flank steak
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 (12 ounce) can beer
    (at room temperature)

Place a sheet of aluminum foil on a griddle turn heat to medium, and let griddle get hot. Put the whole tomatoes chiles and onion on the hot griddle until they blister. Do not burn. With a blender pulse the roasted tomatoes, chiles and onion with the water about three times, being careful not to over-blend. Heat oil in a heavy skillet; add tomato sauce and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Adjust salt.

Put the garlic through a garlic press, then spread it over the beef. Heat oil in a skillet and brown the meat uncovered. When brown on all sides, add beer and cook covered about 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is tender. Remove beef from the skillet and let it cool. When beef is cool, shred it. Use to fill tamales; top tamales with the sauce. Steam as per instructions. Fills 25 tamales.

Chicken with Mole Filling
3 to 4 cups water
4 chicken breasts
1 whole white onion
3 cloves garlic, whole
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup mole paste
1 tomato
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Salt, to taste

In a heavy pot, bring the water to a boil. Add chicken, onion, garlic cloves and bay leaves. Let chicken boil, covered, for 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for 35 to 45 minutes, or until meat is tender. Shred chicken.

Place mole paste in a blender with tomato and chicken stock and grind until a smooth paste forms. In a heavy saucepan, simmer the sauce in oil until it thickens (about 10 to 15 minutes). Salt to taste. Steam as per instructions. Fills 25 tamales.

Pork with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce Filling
15 green tomatillos
4 to 6 serrano chiles
1/2 onion
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt, to taste
5 cups water
2 pounds pork loin
1 whole large onion
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Maggi? seasoning

Remove husks from tomatillos; rinse under cool water. Dry tomatillos with a paper towel. Roast the whole tomatillos, chiles and the 1/2 onion on a hot griddle over medium heat until they blister and brown slightly, about 10 minutes. Do not burn. Grind roasted ingredients in a blender with the 1/4 cup water, being careful not to over-blend. Add rinsed cilantro leaves and pulse the blender about three times.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet. Add tomatillo sauce, and simmer for about 7 minutes. Adjust salt. 

Bring water to boil in a heavy pot. Add pork and the whole onion, reduce heat to medium-high, and boil for 1 hour. Mix in the oregano, minced garlic and Maggi? seasoning; simmer for 30 minutes more. Let cool; shred pork. Set stock aside to use in tamale dough. Prepare sauce and use over tamales. Steam as per instructions. Fills 25 tamales.

Shrimp with Pasilla Sauce Filling
3 pasilla chiles
1/4 cup warm water
2 tomatoes
3 Serrano chiles
1/2 onion
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon vinegar
Salt, to taste
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
36 large fresh shrimp
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Rinse pasilla chiles removing any dust. Dry chiles with a paper towel. On a hot griddle over medium heat roast the chiles. When roasted on all sides remove from griddle and let cool. Remove stems ,slice down sides,, and remove seeds and veins. Let pasilla chiles rest in the warm water for 20 minutes.

On the same hot griddle roast the tomatoes, serrano chiles onion and garlic. In a blender grind the pasilla with the 1/4 cup warm water, tomatoes, serrano chiles, onion, garlic and vinegar. Adjust salt to taste. In a heavy saucepan heat oil and simmer pasilla sauce for about 5 minutes. Keep at room temperature until ready to use.

Shell the shrimp, leaving tail intact. With a sharp knife cut along the curve in the body and remove the back vein. Rinse shrimp under cool water. Transfer shrimp to a mixing bowl filled with ice water then add the red wine vinegar. Place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Drain liquid from shrimp and pat dry with paper towels. Place 1 large shrimp and 1 teaspoon of the sauce on top of the tamale dough. Steam as per instructions. Fills 25 tamales.

Pork Filling
12 pounds green tomatillos, peeled, ground
2 large red tomatoes
1/4 cup achiote paste
1/4 cup pequ?n chile (optional)
1 ancho chile, de-veined
1 (1 1/2 pound) pork roast
1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 stick cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, minced

Remove husks from tomatillos. Rinse well. Bring 2 cups water to boil in a heavy pot, reduce heat to medium-high, and boil tomatillos for about 7 minutes. Remove stems from tomatillos, transfer to a blender, and grind with the red tomatoes, achiote paste, pequ?n chile, ancho chile and a little water. Set aside

In a Dutch oven over high heat, brown the pork, turning to brown on all sides. Then cover with hot water and boil for approximately 1 hour with the oregano, cinnamon stick, garlic and whole onion. The pork must be very well cooked. Discard onion and water. Cool and shred pork. Mix the sauce with the shredded pork. Transfer to a Dutch oven and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.

Make flat patties with the basic Masa Harina? recipe. Fill with shredded pork and close all sides, forming round shapes. Transfer each filled ball to prepared corn husk and secure closed at each end with a strip of corn husk or string. Cut uneven ends of corn husk so both ends will look even. Steam as per instructions. Fills 25 tamales.

Fresh Corn
25 dried corn husks
5 cups fresh or frozen corn (not canned)
1 cup Muenster cheese, finely diced
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 to 2 teaspoons pequ?n chile (or cayenne)
2 teaspoons aniseed (optional)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

Soak corn husks overnight. Thaw frozen corn. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dry corn in the oven for 15 minutes.

In a heavy medium pan, melt shortening. Add pequ?n chile and aniseeds to the melted shortening; cool to room temperature. In a blender, mix the sugar, salt, eggs, thawed corn and melted shortening. Grind, pulsing and scraping down sides until fully ground (about 4 to 5 minutes). Transfer to a mixing bowl, then add the cheese.

Spoon 6 to 7 tablespoons of ground corn mixture onto each corn husk. Fold husk closed like an envelope and secure with string. Transfer envelopes to a steamer and steam as per basic instructions, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Makes 12 tamales.

Sweet Almond
50 dried corn husks
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 whole eggs, beaten
1 pound Masa Harina? or prepared masa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup almonds
1 cup milk (use 1/4 less if using prepared masa)
3/4 cup raisins
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Soak corn husks at least 4 to 7 hours. Pat dry just before using each one.

With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Mix in eggs and continue beating on low.

In a mixing bowl mix masa with baking powder and salt. Grind almonds in a blender until coarsely chopped. Mix the masa into the butter mixture alternately with the milk. Mix in the almonds, raisins, almond extract and vanilla extract. Transfer the masa mixture to the corn husks. Secure closed with strips of corn husks or string. Steam tamales as per instructions. Makes 25.

You can substitute sweetened condensed milk for the regular sweet milk, or change the flavor by omitting the almond flavor and using aniseeds. You can also use bananas. Experiment and flavor them any way you wish.

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