Tamales are a New Mexican holiday tradition. These little rectangles of meat-filled corn meal are a staple at Christmas dinners across the state. My mom (Gluten Free Grandma T) and I have always wanted to learn how to make them. We’ve heard about how much work they are and were not sure what to expect. It turns out, if you’re only making a dozen or two, it’s really not difficult to make gluten free tamales!
You can fill your tamales with a variety of meats (or vegetables). We like red chile pork, so up first is Grandma T’s red chile pork recipe. We’re also making green chile chicken, which is just shredded chicken with diced green chile and cheese. For the vegetarians, green chile and cheese is nice, or for a vegan option, try filling them with calabacitas, a sautéed blend of zucchini, corn, green chile and onion.
Grandma T’s red chile pork
12 dry *red chile pods
1 clove garlic
3 lbs pork loin
Break chile pod stems off and shake out the seeds. Wash the chile pods. Soak them in hot water (just enough to cover them) until tender; about 10-15 minutes. Place the chile pods in the blender along with the garlic and blend. Add some of the water you soaked the pods in until you have three cups of sauce in the blender. Blend until smooth^.
Trim the fat from the pork loin and dice into small pieces (bite-sized.) Put the pork in a slow cooker and pour the chile sauce over it. Cook for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high.
This is a delicious stew-like dish you could serve as it is. If you’re using it for tamales, you’ll need to drain the liquid from the pork. (It makes enough that you could use some for filling and save the rest with the sauce to pour over your tamales to serve!)
^If you just want a red chile sauce with no meat, simply thicken the blended sauce with a gluten free roux and it’s ready to use for enchiladas! This won’t work for a filling but would be great over tamales.
Gluten free tamales
(makes 10-12 tamales)
2 cups *instant corn masa
1 1/3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth or water)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
Mix the dry ingredients together. Then add the broth. In a separate large bowl, beat the shortening with a hand mixer until it’s light and fluffy. Slowly incorporate the masa mixture into the shortening. The end result should be smooth and slightly sticky (you may need to add another teaspoon or two of water to get there.)
Rinse off the corn husks, then soak them in water for about two minutes to soften them. Working one at a time, lay out a corn husk flat and spread a wide rectangle of masa across it. It should be about ¼ inch thick. Add 1-2 tablespoons of filling to the middle of the rectangle in a vertical line.
Carefully fold over the wide sides of the corn husk and masa (we pulled the masa away from the husk on one side to fully cover the filling without getting the husk stuck in the middle.) Then fold the top and bottom husks over without disturbing the masa. Continue until you’re out of masa.
Now comes the kind-of tricky part. You need to steam them standing up. Add a deep steamer tray to a water-filled pot and stand up each tamale in the steamer. We used coffee cups to help keep the tamales upright. Cover tamales with a wet towel and steam for one hour. Make sure to check
your water level during the hour; our first batch steamed out all the water and ended up with a yucky burnt flavor. After an hour, your tamales are done! Serve right away (just unwrap them) or freeze with the corn husks still in place. Tamales are great smothered in red or green chile sauce, with melted cheese or queso, or with sour cream.
Are gluten free tamales part of your Christmas tradition? What do you serve for Christmas dinner? Tell me in the comments!
Grandma T’s gluten free recipes and recommendations will be featured on Gluten Free Fab Life from time to time – check back soon to see what she’s cooked up!
Grandma T’s previous recipes
February 2016: Gluten free flour tortillas
March 2016: Gluten free dark chocolate cookie balls
April 2016: Our favorite gluten free cookbook and recipes
May 2016: Gluten free graham cracker crust
July 2016: Gluten free peach strudel
July 2016: Gluten free sesame chicken
August 2016: Gluten free vanilla pecan cookie balls
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