¡Olé! Tamale Party!

My aunt Sheila recently invited the ladies of our family over for a tamale party.  When she married a Mexican-American man more than 20 years ago, she dove right in to her husband’s culture.  Over the years she has learned quite a few authentic Mexican recipes from her mother-in-law Joan, and we were all so fortunate to learn a few while rolling tamales and enjoying margaritas.

The tamale party was so much fun!  What a lovely way to spend an early spring afternoon.  While it was nice to indulge in an afternoon of cooking and eating, the best part was spending time with my family.  We all agreed that we’ll take turns hosting everyone for a cooking lesson – now I just need to pick one cuisine to share with everyone!

Sheila’s Cheese Tamales

1 bag corn husks (also known as “hojas”)

1 two-lb container prepared masa with salt (Sheila likes the Guadalupana brand)

Jalepeno cheese, sliced into 1/4″ logs

Salsa verde, from a jar or homemade (here is my recipe)

Soak husks in a large bowl of warm water for one hour.

Open one husk carefully and spread 3-4 tablespoons of masa in the center. Make a gulley with your finger down the center of the masa and stuff it with a slice of cheese. Top with one tablespoon salsa verde.  Roll husk securely and fold over bottom flap, leaving one end open.

Stand about 50 tamales in a steamer pot, cover and steam for one hour.  Serve with Chile Ancho Salsa, homemade frijoles and rice.

Gramma Joan’s Frijoles

2 one-pound bags black beans

1 medium onion, diced

1/3 cup vegetable oil


Soak beans overnight with the onion and a few teaspoons of salt. Cook beans until softened.  Put into a blender or food processor and puree until well mashed.  Serve immediately or freeze for up to six months.

Joan and Sheila recommend liberally sprinkling some Parmesan cheese on top before serving, but they insist that the cheese should be sprinkled in the sign of the cross while saying a prayer!

Gramma Joan’s Mexican Fried Rice

1 cup white or brown rice

2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2-3 tablespoons dried onion flakes

2 cups vegetable broth

Heat oil in a skillet.  Add rice and brown it with the onion flakes.  Add vegetable broth, cover and simmer for 30 minutes (until rice is done).

Ancho Chile Salsa

8 dried ancho chiles

few cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Soak dried chiles in hot water for 10 minutes (or until softened). Using scissors, slit chiles open and remove seeds.  Cut chiles into small pieces and add to a blender with 1/2 cup water, salt, some chopped garlic and vegetable oil.  Puree until it reaches a smooth consistency – you may have to add more water until it reaches your desired consistency.

Sheila and Joan recommend using plastic gloves while handling the chiles as they can be hot should you rub your eyes or mouth!

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1 Comment for this entry

  1. Sheila says:

    Fabulous Maureen! What a blast! Thanks for posting this!

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