My Mom made an assortment of tamales for special days and the holidays, but the “frijol con jalapeño” are the ones that remind me the most of Christmas. I am so happy that I took an interest and paid attention when my Mom prepared her tamales.
There Were No Written Recipes!
That’s right, no written recipes. The recipes I have learned are from memory. From watching mom cook over the years. I still have so many questions for her. I took a few notes before I moved away from home. When I look back on them now, I laugh quietly to myself. This girl has come a long way! I definitely feel a deep passion for preserving these recipes to the best of my knowledge. And sharing them is so important!
During the holidays, my family will call, email, or message me in a panic looking for one of Mom’s tamal, empanada, or cookie recipes and I am more than happy to be able to share what I have learned with them. I know that there will never be a tamal as good as hers, but we will continue the tradition as close as we can. Preparing these special family foods during the holidays brings us together even though we are thousands of miles apart. Takes you right back home. Thanks Mom..
Tamal de Frijol Con Jalapeño
- For the Masa
- 2½ cups masa harina
- 2½ cups chicken broth
- ¾ cup pork lard(manteca) or vegetable shortening
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/3 c Ancho chile salsa for color mostly, it's optional
- Salt to taste
For the Chile Colorado Beans: Fijoles Chinos
- 3 1/2 Cups pinto beans with liquid previously cooked
- 4 to 6 chile ancho depending on size
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon oil or lard
You Also Need
- 8 large pickled jalapeños cut into 6 strips each, set aside.
If Adding Cheese
- 12 oz queso panela sliced into 24 equal, long thin portions
Directions For The Beans
- Transfer the chile ancho to a glass bowl. Cover with water and cook in the microwave for 7 to 9 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time. Remove from microwave and let cool slightly. Or you can add them to a pot of simmering water and cook them for 10 to 13 minutes.
- While the chiles are cooling, in a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil to medium heat. Add the beans and bring to a simmer. Drain the chile anchos and transfer to the blender. Add the cumin, oregano, garlic, salt, and ½ cup chicken broth. Blend on high until smooth, set aside.
- Add the chile ancho sauce to the beans, stir well to combine. When it comes to a boil, add the remaining chicken broth and reduce heat to a low simmer, stirring often. Taste for salt and while the beans are simmering, mash with a potato masher until desired texture.
- Continue cooking the beans until most of the liquid has evaporated. This process requires you to stir often so that beans don’t burn on the bottom of pan. It may take up to 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely before using as a filling for tamales.
To Prepare Masa
- Combine the masa harina, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken broth and using your hand, work it into a soft dough. In another bowl, melt the shortening in the microwave, then let it cool slightly. Add the shortening to the masa and work it in with hands until you get a thick batter consistency. If masa is too thick, add a little more chicken broth. Keep masa covered with plastic wrap until ready to use. The original masa was white, with no added chile salsa. On most days I will add some to give the masa a little color and flavor.
To Finish Tamales
- While beans are cooling soak the corn husk in very hot water, using a heavy plate or bowl to keep them submerged. Soak for at least 45 minutes to an hour.
- Take a few of the corn husk out of water and shake off excess water. Cut the husk down to about 4 inches wide. They tear easy. Place the corn husk lengthwise in the palm of your hand with the wide side closest to you. Spread about 3 to 4 tablespoons of masa all over the bottom half of husk. It’s ok to leave a small border on the sides of husk.
- Place a heaping tablespoon of bean filling (2 tablespoons) and 1-2 jalapeño strisp, lengthwise down the center of the tamale. If adding cheese, add one piece. Fold one side in first, then the other side (it should overlap a little on the first fold). Fold down the top flap down and lay tamale seam side down until ready to cook. Repeat until all tamales are done.
- Prepare large steamer pot or tamalera by filling the bottom with water. add a pennies (coins). Insert the steamer and arrange all of your tamales standing up (open side up) around the edges of pot . If tamales are loose in pot, add a little foil paper or extra corn husk to secure that the tamales won't fall over during cooking time.
- Cover tightly and turn heat to high to get a quick boil going. Reduce heat and set timer for 45 minutes. You will hear the coin rattling. If you do not hear it, you need to add more hot water quickly. After 45 minutes add another 1 ¾ cups of water. Steam for another 45 minutes. Carefully take out one tamal and cool for 6-7 minutes. If the masa peels away from husk, then the tamales are ready. If not, steam for another 25 minutes. Remove entire pot from heat and let stand for 30 minutes before serving. Yields 24 small tamales.
When the beans are cooked down to this thick paste, they are called Frijoles Chinos or Chinitos. It is a common way of cooking beans around Mexico city. The key to this recipe is that is has to be stirred constantly for a period of time to achieve this consistancy.