We love the local heritage steeped in New Mexico, California, Colorado, and Baja California of tamales at Christmas time. Making homemade tamales is an opportunity to gather young and old as you assemble the tamales with Grandma’s hands helping the youngest new hands to smooth the masa over the husk. It is a time of chatter and creation in a warm kitchen filled with loving memories. We make dozens of tamales this way to share with friends and family at the holidays. We also freeze some to enjoy later in the year. With Wagyu Brisket or Short Ribs, the rich flavor of the meat enhances the basic corn masa in the tradition of hundreds of years. The delicious new bold flavor of the Wagyu nestles into the pocket of humble masa. When combined the first bite transcends beyond the now to the simple hands of tamale makers throughout the centuries. These are our Merry Christmas Tamales.
Yield: 8 Dozen Tamales
Time: Prep – 45 Minutes
Cook – 7 Hours
For the meat filling
- Salt and pepper brisket liberally, cover and let set overnight in refrigerator
- Preheat oven to 325°
- Place brisket in large, deep pan with lid or Dutch oven or heavy aluminum roaster
- Pour two cups of red chili sauce on top of brisket, cover either with lid or multiple layers of aluminum, cover and cook for 5.5 hours.
- Meat should be tender and easy to shred. Trim any unwanted fat from brisket and shred beef.
For the Tamale
- Soak the corn husks in hot water for approximately 30 minutes
- Prepare the masa according to instructions if you are using a masa mix
- Lay a husk on a flat surface. Depending on its size, spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of prepared masa onto the husk.
- Use the back of a metal spoon to spread the dough onto the husk. Some people find a putty knife to do a fine job. Alternatively, wet your hands and spread it with your palm.
- When spreading the dough, leave a space of about 4 inches from the narrow end of the husk and about 2 inches from the broad end.
- Spread the dough to the edge of one of the long sides and 2 inches away from the other long side.
- Try to keep the dough approximately 1/4-inch thick.
- Spoon in center of masa 2 Tablespoons of meat filling
- Locate the long side of the husk with a 2-inch space that doesn't have any masa. Fold that over, slightly overlapping the other side, so the edges of the dough meet. Press gently and make sure the filling isn't leaking.
- Wrap an extra husk around the back, so you have a tightly wrapped tamale. Fold the broad end over the top and the longer narrow end over the broad end.
- Create strips of husk by cutting or tearing 1/4-inch lengths off of some of the smaller or unusable husks. Use these to tie across the middle of the tamale to hold the flaps down. You may need to tie two strips together before tying it across the tamales, depending on how thick your tamales are (You can also use kitchen twine to tie off the tamales. This option gives you the choice to better tie the tamales lengthwise and crosswise if they are too big).
- Set the tamales upright in a steamer in a large pot.
- Keep a small amount of boiling water on the bottom of a pot. Keep the water away from the tamales. Cover the pot with a lid and steam for 30 minutes. Do not let the water boil up completely. Add hot water to the pot as necessary but keep it away from the tamales.
- Be sure to let the tamales rest for 20 minutes before eating.