Home For The Holidays

A New Mexico Holiday Tradition

Tamales are a New Mexico food staple dating back to the 1800s, derived from the Aztec word meaning "wrapped food." Traditionally, tamales are a family affair celebrated during the holidays! This is a time for generations to get together, make filling and masa and then create an assembly line where all hands on deck spread the masa on the corn husk, fill and fold the tamales. 

So whomever you are spending your holidays with, enjoy with a loving traditional meal. 


 1 6-ounce package dried corn husks Filling

 1½ pounds pork

 1 medium onion, chopped

 2 cups water

 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 

 2 cloves Garlic minced

 1 tbsp flour

 ½ cup ground dried hot Hatch, New Mexico Red Chile (not chili powder), preferably New Mexican

 Salt to taste

 ½ tsp Mexican Oregano Dough

 6 cups Masa Harina (corn flour for tamales)

 1 ²/³ cup Snowcap Lard

 5 cups water, or more as needed

 2 teaspoons salt



1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place pork and onion in a medium-sized baking dish and cover with water. Bake for approximately 1½ hours, or until pork is cooked through and pulls apart easily.

2. Remove pork from liquid, reserving both. When pork is cool enough to handle, pull it into fine shreds. When liquid has cooled, strain and skim fat from surface. If liquid doesn’t measure 2 cups, add enough water to equal 2 cups.

3. Warm oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and pork. Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir for 1 minute as flour begins to brown.

4. Add chile, cooking liquid, salt, and oregano. Continue cooking for 20 to 25 minutes, until most of liquid has evaporated but pork remains moist. Watch carefully and stir in last few minutes to avoid burning.


1. Mix Masa Harina, oil, water, and salt with an electric mixer. Mix till well-blended and smooth, like a very soft cookie dough. Add more water if needed for correct consistency. (Fresh ground tamale dough, or masa, is often available around the holidays in communities with a Latino population. You may need to order it in advance. About 3 pounds can be used in place of the dough.)

Corn husks:

1. Place corn husks in a deep bowl and cover with hot water. Let soak until softened and pliable, about 30 minutes. Separate husks, and if there is any grit or brown silk, rinse them under water.

Husks can stay in water once softened while you form the tamales.


1. Each tamale will require about 2 tablespoons of filling and dough and 1 large corn husk. Hold a corn husk flat, smooth side up. With a large spoon, spread a thin layer of dough across the husk, not quite to the edges.

2. Top with filling spread more thickly through dough’s center, stopping short of dough’s edges. Fold one-half over the other, enclosing the filling within the dough. Fold up the bottom third of the corn husk, so that the tamale becomes something of a package. Repeat procedure until all dough and filling are used.


1. Arrange a vegetable steamer in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill with hot water. Place tamales in steamer, standing them on the folded ends. Leave enough space among them for steam to rise effectively.

2. Cover pot and cook over simmering water for about 1 hour, until the masa is firm and no longer sticks to husks. Check one tamale for consistency. If still doughy, rewrap and return to the pot, and continue steaming for a few more minutes.

Tamales should be eaten warm. The husks are usually removed by each guest before eating but can be removed ahead of time, if you prefer.

Makes 2 Dozen tamales. Recipe credited by https://iamnm.com/traditional-new-mexico-red-chile-tamales

Please note, you can substitute meat for vegetables, chicken or any other meat. You can also make dessert style and fill with Pumpkin, apple...etc.

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