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Tamales Recipe by The Resort at Pedregal’s Executive Chef Yvan Mucharraz

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Tamales are one of my favorite dishes we traditionally enjoy for Christmas and other December holidays.  ‘Regular and ‘Christmas’ tamales are no different, other than they are made for Christmas.  However, because the preparation is so time and labor intensive, tamales have become associated more with the Christmas holidays and special occasions.  Perhaps because these are times that family and friends come together and thus can work together to prepare the masa and to make the sauces and meats.  The kitchen is converted into an assembly line to wrap the tamales before steaming them in large pots on the stove.  The tamale making process takes all day and preparations often start one or two days prior.  Therefore, making just a few tamales is rarely heard of.   Tamale making has become a social event, often referred to as a tamalada, where people come together to make new friendships and strengthen old ones.

History of Tamales

Katie Warner wrote:  “Tamales can be traced back to as early as 7000 B.C. in Pre-Columbian history, when the Aztec women were taken along in battle as cooks for the army.   There was a need to have a more portable yet sustainable food and the tamales could be made ahead of time, packed and warmed as needed.

Originally, the tamales were cooked by burying them in hot ashes, which made them crispy and brown.  However, as time progressed, the Aztecs began to implement new methods for cooking, learned from the Spanish conquistadores.  At which point, steaming the tamales in underground pits or in uncovered pots became the practice.  When steaming the tamales, the Aztecs believed that the tamal sticking to the bottom of the pot was a sign of good luck, and would protect them of the dangers on the battleground.

The tamale changed in size, color, shape, and filling, depending on the location and the resources available.  The wrappings varied from cornhusks, to soft tree bark, to edible leaves, such as those from avocados and bananas.  Even fabric was sometimes used.  Today, the most common variety is a tamal composed of masa (hominy flour dough) spread on a corn shuck and filled with either chicken, pork, beef, green chile, cheese, or, more recently, vegetables.  Another thing that has changed is the use of the tamale as an every day food.


Tamales Recipe

Writer Marcia Frost recently visited one of our favorite Los Cabos resorts, The Resort at Pedregal, and took a tamales cooking class with The Resort at Pedregal (ex-Capella Pedregal)’s Executive Chef Yvan Mucharraz.  She describes her experience here, and in the continuation we are sharing the recipe she received from Chef Yvan.


For the Tamales :
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening or lard salt 6 tablespoons corn flour 4 ounces chicken stock or water For the Salsa Ranchera :
1 bunch cilantro 2 garlic cloves 2 jalapeño chiles 2 tomatoes 2 white onions For the Tomatillo Salsa :
1 tomatillo (green tomatoes) 1 garlic 1 bunch cilantro 2 jalapeño chiles 1 onion

For the Salsa Ranchera:
1 bunch cilantro
2 garlic cloves
2 jalapeño chiles
2 tomatoes
2 white onions

For the Tomatillo Salsa:
1 tomatillo (green tomatoes)
1 garlic
1 bunch cilantro
2 jalapeño chiles
1 onion


For the tamales:
Mix all of the ingredients together with your hands until a dough is formed. Flatten the dough to about ½ inch thick.
Spread the filling on the dough and cover with another piece of dough. Pinch to seal.
Place the tamales (standing up) in a steamer or colander over a pot with two inches of boiling water. Steam the tamales from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the size of the tamale.
The finished tamale should be firm, but still have some softness.

For the Salsa Ranchera:
Cut the tomatoes and onions in half.
Roast all the ingredients except cilantro in the oven until brown.
Blend roasted ingredients together, adding chopped cilantro at the end.
Add salt and pepper, as desired.

For the Tomatillo Salsa:
Cut onions in half.
Roast tomatoes, onions, garlic and jalapeño chile in the oven until brown.
Blend everything together and at the end chop the cilantro and add to the mix.
Add salt and pepper, as desired.

Buen provecho and happy holidays!

Tamales recipe source / Tamales history source / Tamales photo source

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