The following turkey tamale recipe will get you started on your way to tamale greatness, but you should also experiment and make up your own signature tamales. One of my favorites is mushroom and brie cheese.
Dried corn husks are available in grocery stores and Hispanic markets. If you can’t find them in yours, try making tamales with fresh corn husks or parchment paper cut into a large triangle, about the size of an outside corn husk.
Yield: 16 small tamales
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30-50 minutes
Total time: 1-2 hours
- 2 cups masa harina flour
- ⅔ cup melted Crisco
- 1 ¼ cups warm chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ⅓ cup onion, diced
- 1 cup fresh tomatillos, quartered (or substitute green tomatoes or omit)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 teaspoon chile powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups cooked wild turkey breast, cut into ½-inch cubes or shredded
- Dried corn husks
1. To prepare the masa, follow the directions on the bag for tamale dough. I start by mixing the masa flour, Crisco, broth and salt together with a fork, but eventually you’ll need to get in there with your hands to make sure it’s thoroughly mixed. The masa should be the consistency of moist cookie dough. If it’s too dry, add a little more chicken broth. Too wet, mix in a little more masa harina flour. Set masa dough aside while you prepare the stuffing.
2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, tomatillos, garlic and jalapeño and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add chile powder, cumin, salt and turkey breast; stir to blend flavors. Simmer for 2-3 minutes and then allow stuffing to cool.
3. For each tamale, lay a corn husk on a flat surface with the narrow end pointing towards you. Take about 2-3 tablespoons of masa and spread evenly along the bottom quarter of the corn husk, about ½ an inch from any edge of the husk. In the center of the masa, place a few tablespoons of the turkey mixture. Fold the left edge over the stuffing. The idea is to surround the stuffing with masa. Fold the right edge over and fold the bottom up towards the center.
4. Place tamales fold-side-down in a hot steamer basket with the water level just under the bottom of the basket. Leave a little room between each tamale so steam can cook each one. Add water as they steam, if necessary. Tamales will take from 25-40 minutes to steam, depending on how big they are. They will be soft, moist and hot when cooked and will firm up as they start to cool.