Few of us can grind our own masa at home on $1,800 molinitos, but Masienda, the California-based source for all things masa, offers a shortcut. Its Chef’s Grade Masa Harina is made using white olotillo, a single-origin heirloom Mexican corn variety grown in coastal Oaxaca that’s been cooked and softened in slaked lime solution. Thus nixtamalized, the corn kernels are ground into a fine masa, which is then carefully dried to create a shelf-stable masa flour that’s the next best thing to nixtamalizing at home.
10–12 corn husks
1 cup lard
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups Masienda Chef ’s Grade Masa Harina
Salt to taste
2–3 cups chicken stock or other liquid
2 cups filling (this can be cooked meat dressed in salsa, roasted poblanos, grilled vegetables, Oaxacan cheese, a combination of the preceding, or whatever sounds good to you)
Oaxacan cheese and salsa macha (optional)
Soak the corn husks in hot water for at least 3 hours—or, even better, overnight. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the lard until it is light and fluffy. Add baking powder and, with the motor running, gradually add the masa harina. Salt the mixture to taste, then gradually add enough chicken stock (or other liquid) to make a smooth, soft and pliable dough.
Divide the dough into 10–12 balls, and then press and flatten each ball into the center of a softened corn husk. Divide your filling among the tamales, fold one side of each husk around the masa/filling, then the other, so that the masa wraps around the filling. Fold one of the open ends of each tamale up to form a base. In a pot fitted with a steamer basket, steam the tamales, base end down, for 60–70 minutes or until the husks pull away from the tamales easily. If you like, serve with Oaxacan cheese and salsa macha.
Yields 10–12 tamales
Recipe courtesy of Masienda.