Homemade Tamales

Last weekend I blogged about my dad’s side of the families annual tradition of making peanut brittle and this weekend it was my moms side of the family’s tamale making tradition. I’m definitely a diverse individual if you couldn’t already tell. (Haha)

While, I don’t have a recipe for the tamales as there is too many steps involved, I figured I would share some pictures of our tradition.

This tradition was created by my grandma and it has been kept alive by my mom and aunt. My grandma watches from the couch now ( I think I want her job). Every Christmas Eve is spent at my grandparents house eating tamales, beans, and rice so a couple weekends before Christmas the tamale process begins, which is about 2 full days.

The first step is making the chile. Whole chiles are bought and all night is spent cleaning each chile individually, taking out the seeds, and then cleaning them. From there fresh chile is made adding spices like cumin and blending everything together to its perfect consistency. (Trust me when I say it’s a much longer process than these 2 sentences)


We make 3 types of tamales: chicken, beef, and chile and cheese. After the chicken and beef are cooked and shredded the assembly can begin. The masa (Spanish dough) is spiced up with the homemade chile and so we begin.


We take the oja (cornhusk) which is used to wrap the tamales. (The picture below is them soaking in warm water to make sure they are clean. They are drained and dried before we fill them) First, we feel for the soft side of the oja. This is the side that you want to spread the masa on.


Leaving an inch or two at the top and bottom the masa is spread evenly. We then add the meat or cheese. For the meat we add 2 olives, and a spoonful of chile. For the cheese ones we add 2 slices of pepper jack, jalapeños, and a spoonful of chile.


Then you can fold them up. By folding each side of the oja, folding the bottom tip of the oja, and pinching the top, you have created a tamale! (The extremely condensed version)


I love this family tradition because it brings everyone together and each year I have a greater respect for the hard work and time that my mom and aunt put into this. After roughly 5 hours of nonstop spreading masa, and 24 dozen tamales later, I still have to wait another week and a half to eat them!


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