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Help with Tamales

I want to do tamales for Christmas Eve but I can't figure out how to make them work with my schedule! I will be at church for about 2 hours before we serve dinner. The recipe I have for tamales says after I make them I should steam them for 1 hour and then serve them immediately. It says I can hold them for a while over a low simmer - if I must.

Does anyone know of a way I could partially cook the tamales before I go to church and then finish them after church? Or reheat them without ruining them? We usually eat dinner about 30 - 45 minutes after we get back from church so I don't really have time to do all of the steaming then.

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  1. Why not make a large Baked Tamal either rolled "jellyroll style"; or "en cazuela" using a loaf pan. Here's a recipe I use all the time:

    Chicken & Green Corn Tamal en Cazuela

    1-1/2 cups precooked rotisserie Chicken
    1 bag (16 oz) Frozen Corn, divided
    4 Poblano Chiles, roasted and chopped
    8 Tomatillos, husked
    8 oz Jack Cheese
    1-1/2 cups Masa Harina para Tamales
    1/4 cup Lard
    1 teaspoon Baking Powder
    1 cup Chicken broth
    Pkg Corn Husks

    Preheat oven to Broil. Soak corn husks in hot water to soften. Slice chiles and tomatillos in half and place under broiler to blacken for 10 minutes. Remove, drain (reserve juices) and chop. Do not remove the flavorful bits (black). Turn oven to Bake and preheat to 350F.

    Whirr together in a blender/food processor the roasted chiles and tomatillos and their juices into a salsa verde.

    Whisk lard and baking powder together, then gradually add the masa and chicken broth. Beat the batter to a smooth soft consistancy.

    Line a 10” or larger casserole dish (or large loaf pan) with the corn husks. Spread half the batter on the bottom and sides of the casserole. Layer chicken, corn, salsa verde and cheese. Top with the remaining batter and then a layer of husks. Cover and bake for 35-45 minutes @ 350F.

    1. on my opinion, this is one of the few good uses for a microwave! you can steam them in advance, refrigerate them, and then nuke them to warm them. works great.

      1. Steam them then put them in a crockpot on low. They'll stay warm until you're done with church, etc. I don't like nuking them unless you have to and if you're heating them for a crowd (more than a few people) it's easier just to keep themin the crock.

        1. A while back I saw a lady selling hot tamales out in front of a Mexican grocery. She kept the tamales in a cooler.

          1. I would make them the day before and steam and completely chill then reheat in the microwave.

            1. Make them ahead of time and re-steam to reheat.

              For what it's worth: we make them ahead of time every year (I've already made and frozen mine) and reheat xmas morning in the steamer. They're perfect. My husband doesn't mind reheating them in the microwave...I don't think they taste as good that way, the masa can get rubbery if you're not careful.

              1. fully cook them ahead of time. you can re-steam them to re-heat, but as someone already noted, this is really one of the best uses for a microwave. I'd put a bunch in a plastic bag - like the ones you get at a grocery store, add a bit of water (to create steam,) and twist it shut. Microwave until warm. remember, you want to reheat them, not re-cook them, so you may want to not use full power.

                1. Thank you all! I've never tried Tamales before and I really didn't want to ruin them after all that work. But of course church is our first priority. I'm glad to know I can still have good tamales.

                  1. We use the steamer method ourselves and it's the best we've found. I agree that the microwave makes them rubbery..and hard at the edges.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: QSheba

                      Yes and hard at the edges makes me cry, right in my tamale.

                    2. Thanks for all the help. I made the tamales in the morning, chilled them and them reheated them in the (sorry) microwave. They were very good and were scarfed down very quickly. Next time I make them I will eat them straight from the pot to see if there's a difference - I was surprised at how easy they were.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: lupaglupa

                        you can also freeze the cooked ones and microwave them - they're good that way, as well.

                        1. re: lupaglupa

                          Tamales can be intimidating - but they are not as hard as some recipes and instructions make them seem. Glad to hear it worked out for you!!!