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    You are in: Home / Recipes / Good Eats Hot Tamales (Alton Brown 2009) Recipe
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    Good Eats Hot Tamales (Alton Brown 2009)

    Good Eats Hot Tamales (Alton Brown 2009). Photo by Chef #1803577726

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    Total Time:

    Prep Time:

    Cook Time:

    4 hrs

    0 mins

    4 hrs

    2Bleu's Note:

    Tamales are simpler to make than you might expect. And these are delicious! We added tomato paste to the filling for added flavor as an option to Alton's recipe. He says you get about 5 dozen, but we got just 3 dozen. You may also enjoy trying Good Eats Turkey Tamales (Alton Brown 2009)

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    Units: US | Metric


    cornmeal dough


    • 36 dried corn husks (3 dozen)


    1. 1
      MEAT FILLING: In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, kosher salt, paprika, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper and cumin. Divide the mixture in half and reserve 1 half for later use.
    2. 2
      Cut the Boston butt into 6 even pieces and place into a 6 to 8-quart saucepan. Add half of the spice mixture and enough water, 3 to 3 1/2 quarts, to completely cover the meat. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the meat is very tender and falling apart, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
    3. 3
      Remove the meat from the cooking liquid to a cutting board. Leave the cooking liquid in the pot. Both meat and liquid need to cool slightly before making dough and handling. Remove any large pieces of fat and shred the meat into small pieces, pulling apart with your hands or using 2 forks.
    4. 4
      Place a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat and add the vegetable oil. Once shimmering, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are semi-translucent, approximately 3 minutes.
    5. 5
      Add the garlic, jalapeno, and remaining half of the spice mixture and continue to cook for another minute. Add the meat (and tomato paste if desired) and cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
    6. 6
      WRAPPERS: While the meat is cooking, place the husks in a large bowl or container and submerge completely in hot water. Soak the husks until they are soft and pliable, at least 45 minutes and up to 2 hours.
    7. 7
      DOUGH: Place the cornmeal, salt, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and combine. Add the lard and using your hands, knead together until the lard is well incorporated into the dry mixture. Gradually add enough of the reserved cooking liquid, 3 to 4 cups to create a dough that is like thick mashed potatoes. The dough should be moist but not wet. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and set aside until ready to use.
    8. 8
      ASSEMBLY: Remove a corn husks from the water and pat dry to remove excess water. Working in batches of 6, lay the husks on a towel and spread about 2 tablespoons of the dough in an even layer across the wide end of the husk to within 1/2-inch of the edges. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture in a line down the center of the dough. Roll the husk so the dough surrounds the meat, then fold the bottom under to finish creating the tamale. Repeat until all husks, dough and filling are used. Tie the tamales, around the center, individually or in groups of 3, with kitchen twine.
    9. 9
      TO COOK TAMALES: Stand the tamales upright on their folded ends, tightly packed together, in the same saucepan used to cook the meat. Add the reserved broth from making the dough and any additional water so the liquid comes to 1-inch below the tops of the tamales. Do not pour the broth into the tops of the tamales. Cover, and simmer until the dough is firm and pulls away easily from the husk, about 30-60 minutes (Alton says 2 hrs, but ours were done much sooner).
    10. 10
      SAUCE: To make a wet sauce to serve with the tamales, after removing them from the broth, add a little tomato paste (about 3 oz) to the broth and simmer till thickened.
    11. 11
      STORING TAMALES: Tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, in the freezer, for up to a month. To reheat, remove the plastic wrap and steam until heated through (we used a steamer basket in the microwave and they were done in 8 minutes, so it makes a great quick munchie snack). :).

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    Ratings & Reviews:

    • on July 28, 2010


      I must honestly say that Alton's tamales are absolutely the BEST thing I have ever made. Mexican is my favorite cuisine, so that has something to do with it, but you really must try these. I made a batch for 80 people at an annual retreat, and they about lost their minds. My inbox was full when we got home, there were so many requests for the recipe, and even a few requests for me to make these for sale. :) I prefer to cook the meat in the crockpot overnight, then let cool and start assembly in the morning. I use cookie dough scoops to measure, and found that 1.5 tbsp for dough and 1 tbsp for meat filling comes out almost perfectly.

      person found this review Helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes | No
    • on December 29, 2014


      Time consuming to make, but delicious. I froze the extras.

      people found this review Helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes | No
    • on May 18, 2009


      Made these the other day after watching the episode, they were a HUGE hit with the family. Had a little left over meat and use it to make a delicious sandwich. Overall Great recipe but do plan to be cooking for a long time but it is well worth it in the end.

      people found this review Helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes | No


    Nutritional Facts for Good Eats Hot Tamales (Alton Brown 2009)

    Serving Size: 1 (2238 g)

    Servings Per Recipe: 1

    Amount Per Serving
    % Daily Value
    Calories 233.0
    Calories from Fat 124
    Total Fat 13.8 g
    Saturated Fat 4.1 g
    Cholesterol 23.3 mg
    Sodium 742.6 mg
    Total Carbohydrate 21.2 g
    Dietary Fiber 2.4 g
    Sugars 0.5 g
    Protein 6.8 g

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