Hot Tamales Like Ya Mama Makes

READY IN: 2hrs 20mins
SERVES: 20-30




  • Place the tamale papers into a shallow baking pan and soak them in just enough water to keep them wet.
  • Place the ground beef in a large mixing bowl.
  • With a food processor, puree the onions, garlic and Rotel tomatoes with juice. Pour this puree over the ground beef along with the red pepper, black pepper, salt, cornmeal, chili powder and tomato sauce. With your hands work this together until the meat mixture is uniformly and thoroughly blended. Your hands may become stained from the chili powder. Set aside at room temperature for about 30 minutes so that the seasonings can marry. In the meantime, mix cornmeal coating and tamale sauce.
  • Cornmeal Coating:
  • In a shallow baking pan, blend together the cornmeal, salt, red pepper and chili powder until thoroughy mixed; set aside.
  • Tamale Sauce:
  • In a small bowl combine tomato sauce and chili powder, stirring well; set aside.
  • The Work Station:
  • Place a large sheet of aluminum foil on a work surface. This is what you're going to roll the tamales on to keep things tidy. Put within reach the meat mixture, cornmeal coating, tamale papers and the loaf pans.
  • Begin Rolling:
  • Using about one (1) tablespoon of the meat mixture, take your hands and roll out an oblong tamale about the size of a Vienna Sausage and toss it around in the cornmeal mixture. It's not necessary to pack the cornmeal on; just a light coating.
  • Remove tamale from the cornmeal and wrap it in one of the wet tamale papers. It's best to wrap them from point to point diagonally, tucking in the edges of the paper as you wrap.
  • As you finish each one, place it into the aluminum loaf pan. There should be three layers of tamales with 10 tamales on each layer, fitting into the pans perfectly with criss-crossed layers so the tamales cook evenly.
  • When all the pans are loaded, pour the sauce evenly over the tamales and fill each loaf pan with "boiling" water. Tightly cover each pan with aluminum foil and place them into an retangular roaster. Finally, fill the roaster with just enough water to come about 3/4 up the sides of the pans. Do Not Overfill.
  • Place the roaster on the stovetop, cover it tightly and simmer the tamales for about 2 hours.
  • Tips for freezing:
  • If doubling the recipe for freezing, roll and wrap, placing them into loaf pans, ladle on the sauce, cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil and freeze uncooked. Or, for fully cooked tamales, cool, cover tightly with aluminum foil and freeze; defrost in refrigerator.