Tamales, moist corn cakes with savory fillings, rank high among those foods that are better ordered out because they’re just too complicated to make at home. Our goal was to bring this classic family dish back home.
Why This Recipe Works
For our tamales recipe, we turned to readily available masa harina, or flour made from masa that has been dried. We supplemented the masa harina with grits and added frozen corn kernels—together they vastly improved the flavor of the dough. Fat is a necessary ingredient in the dough, and while we tried many types, we preferred the traditional lard, along with some butter, for our tamale recipe. Baking powder, used in some recipes that we encountered, worked well to prevent the dough from cooking up with a hard, dense texture, and a food-processor mixing method also incorporated air into the dough for a somewhat lighter texture.