Unwrapping the corn husk around these tamales is like unwrapping little presents.

Masa harina is the flour made from dried masa, the corn dough used to make authentic Mexican tamales. If you can't find it at your local market, try MexGrocer.com.

This recipe is from the Stirring Up Memories Christmas Menu.
Servings: Serves 8
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 10 large corn husks
  • 1 3/4 cups masa harina
  • 1 1/4 cups very hot water
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. cold vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup cold chicken stock or canned broth
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. cayenne powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 (6-ounce) chunk smoked turkey breast , chopped
  • Directions
    Preheat oven to 375°. Pierce sweet potato and place on a baking sheet. Place in oven and bake 50 minutes, or until completely soft. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Place corn husks in a large bowl; add water to cover and let stand at least 30 minutes.

    Meanwhile, place masa harina in an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add hot water in a slow, steady stream until dough forms into a ball. Increase speed to medium-high and mix 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add shortening, 2 tablespoons at a time, until blended. Increase speed to medium-high and beat 5 more minutes, until dough is smooth and light, stopping midway to scrape sides of bowl.

    In a small bowl, stir together chicken stock, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. With mixer on low speed, slowly add stock to dough, beating until combined, occasionally scraping sides of bowl. Increase speed to medium-high; beat 5 minutes more, or until light and fluffy.

    Peel sweet potato; discard skin. Place flesh in a food processor fitted with metal blade. Add maple syrup, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and remaining teaspoons of salt; process until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add half of sweet potato puree (about 1/2 cup) to dough in mixer. Mix on high until blended, occasionally scraping sides of bowl.

    Drain corn husks and pat dry. Tear 16 1/4-inch-wide strips from 2 husks to use for tying tamales. Lay out 4 husks on board. Divide half the tamale dough evenly among husks; spread into 5-inch squares, leaving 1 inch at each end of the tamale uncovered. Spoon 1 tablespoon sweet potato puree in center of each tamale and spread down the middle of each dough square, leaving 1/2 inch dough exposed at each end. Spoon a scant 1/4 cup turkey on top of sweet potato.

    Roll corn husks starting at one side, so filling is completely enclosed and husk overlaps itself. Twist ends to close; tie each end with reserved strips. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

    Meanwhile, fill a large pot with 2 inches water; bring to a simmer. Place tamales in a steamer basket, set basket in pot (basket should not touch water), and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Steam tamales 35 to 40 minutes, checking occasionally to maintain water level (tamales are done when dough easily pulls away from husk). Serve hot.


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