This tamale recipe is made with a beef filling doused in ancho chile and chipotle salsa. It is exquisite and well worth the work.
Tamales are a work of love and patience. This is not something you will not be able to make quickly so plan for a cooking day. These freeze amazingly well once they are cooked so go ahead and make more than one recipe. Simply take them out of the freezer and steam them when you are ready to eat.
Tamales are made with masa harina which is an instant corn flour that is treated with lime. It is readily available in Latin American supermarkets, the Hispanic aisle in your grocery store and online. This is the flour that is used for making tortillas, arepas and pupusas as well.
This is what you are going to need for this delicious beef chipote tamale recipe:
Makes 16 to 20 tamales
FOR THE BEEF:
1 — 3 pound bottom round beef roast or flank steak or skirt steak
2 TBS oil
1 medium white onion – peeled and cut into eight pieces
4 garlic cloves – chopped
1 jalapeño pepper – halved
5 to 6 thyme sprigs
6 cups of water
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 TBS dried oregano
Salt and pepper
Generously cover the beef with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a deep skillet and brown the beef on all sides.
Remove the browned beef from the skillet and set aside. If you have too much rendered fat in your skillet discard all but 1 TBS of the oil. Scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a spatula. Add the onions and garlic and lightly brown for a few minutes.
Return the beef to the skillet with the jalapeño and the thyme sprigs. Add the water, the teaspoon of cumin and the oregano. Add some salt
Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 hours until you can shred the beef. Turn the beef in the liquid at about 1 and ½ hours of cooking.
Remove the cooked beef from the broth and let it cool down until you can handle it. Shred it with your hands or with two forks. Strain the broth.
Set 4 cups of broth aside for the masa harina and keep the remaining broth to make the sauce.
FOR THE SAUCE:
4 chile ancho – stemmed and seeded
¼ of a medium white onion – peeled
2 garlic cloves – peeled
3 whole cloves
2 to 4 chipotles in adobo (depending on how much heat you want)
2 cups of the broth from the beef or water (or a combination of both depending on how much broth you have left over)
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ a tsp. of ground oregano
1 tsp. sugar
Salt to taste
Toast the ancho chilies in a dry skillet until slightly charred. Set aside.
Place the onion and garlic in the same pan and char slightly on all sides. Add the cloves and the chipotle peppers. Return the toasted chilies and add the liquid. Add the cumin, cinnamon, oregano and sugar.
Bring the liquid to a soft boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool down a bit. Place all of it in a blender and blend until smooth. Pass the sauce trough a sieve – do not skip this step or you will have small, dry pieces of chilies that will ruin your whole meal.
Add half of the sauce to the shredded beef and mix well. Keep the remaining sauce to serve with your tamales.
FOR THE TAMALES:
20 dry cornhusks
1 cup vegetable shortening
4 cups masa harina
1 TBS baking powder
2 tsp. salt
4 cups of lukewarm beef broth
Rinse the cornhusks and soak in warm water for 30 minutes. Make sure they are completely submerged. You can do this in a large bowl or in a clean sink.
Once they are pliable, remove them from the water and pat dry them. Place them in a baking sheet and cover them with a damp kitchen towel. Tear one into long, thin strips so that you can tie the tamales once they are filled.
Whisk the vegetable shortening until it is nice and airy – a few minutes.
Place the masa harina in a bowl and add the baking powder and salt. Mix it well.
Add the lukewarm beef broth to the masa and mix it in well with your clean hands. Add the shortening and knead it all well. Incorporate the shortening well.
Place a soaked husk in front of you with the short end closest to you and the coarse side at the bottom (it will be on the outside of the tamal). Spoon some prepared masa into the middle of your husk and press it down with lightly wet hands. Do not make it too thin or too thick.
Add some meat onto the middle of the spread masa and add a little more sauce. Fold the bottom of the husk away from you. Fold the left side over the folded bottom part and then fold the right side over that to form a pouch. Tie it with a piece of torn husk and place it standing open end up, inside a steaming basket that is inside a large pot with some water.
Do this with all your tamales. You will get between 16 to 20 depending on the size. Stand them all snuggly in the basket and start simmering the water. Cover the tamales with a clean, damp kitchen towel and cover the towel with the pot’s lid.
Steam the tamales for 1 ½ to 2 hours making sure to add water to the pot as it evaporates. Check the water level every 30 minutes and add boiling water as needed.
About 1-½ hours into steaming, remove one tamal and open it to check doneness. If it ready, turn off the heat and serve.
Serve your tamales with the remaining sauce or with the salsa of your liking.