Skip to main content
PBS logo

Favorite Recipes: Gramma Villegas' TexMex Tamales

Recipe Author

Name: Barbara V. (MaggieV)
Total Recipes: 1



Gramma Villegas' TexMex Tamales

Dish: Other
Dish Type: Other
Cooking Method: Steamed
Difficulty: 8 / 10
Servings: 36
Prep Time:
Cook Time:

  • 5 lbs. - Masa prepared
  • 1 lb. - Rice flour
  • - Salt to taste
  • 1 lb. - New Mexico Chiles (1/2 boiled, other half is pan-fried in oil)
  • - head of garlic, peeled
  • lb. - Manteca (or equivalent) Lard
  • - fat from the cooked meat
  • 2 bags - corn husks
  • 4 lbs. - Pork Shoulder*
  • - head of garlic
  • 2 Tbsps - Baking Powder
  1. Soak husks in water (make sure they are completely submerged in water)
  2. Boil the meat with ½ head of peeled garlic until tender. Let cool. Separate meat into small pieces, reserving the fat for the Masa mixture.
  3. Prepare the masa as follows: Divide the chiles in half
  4. Remove the seeds from one half of the chiles
  5. Fry the chiles in vegetable/canola oil until outsides are blackened, set aside.
  6. Boil the other half of the chiles in water until softened.
  7. Remove and discard the skins and seeds.
  8. Blend all the chiles together in a blender or food processor.
  9. Add the ½ head of peeled garlic to the chiles, blend well.
  10. Strain the chiles thoroughly making sure that the mixture has no seeds/skins.
  11. Cook the blended Chile sauce in a pan until lightly boiling. Set aside to bring temperature to a warm heat, not cooled completely.
  12. Reserve 1/3 of the chile mixture to spread inside the tamales.
  13. In a very large pot (roasting pan), gradually add the remaining chile mixture to the masa, mix thoroughly.
  14. Gradually add the reserved fat from the pork to the masa.
  15. Gradually add the lard to the masa.
  16. Gradually add Baking powder.
  17. Mix masa by hand until a pasty consistency is achieved.

Assembling the Tamales

  1. Make sure each corn husk is thoroughly cleaned.
  2. Arrange your ingredients so that everything can be assembled in order (Husks, masa, chile sauce, meat)
  3. Spread the masa onto a corn husk in a rectangular shape making sure its not too thin or too thick.
  4. Spread a thin layer of chile mixture on top of the masa
  5. Place about 2 Tablespoons of meat on top of the chile mixture
  6. Fold the tamale in half lengthwise (side to side, not top to bottom)
  7. Use another corn husk to wrap around the folded tamale, fold bottom of husk upwards.
  8. Place in a steamer pot (or you can use a regular stock pot with an inverted vegetable steamer basket, or an inverted wicker plate at the bottom). You want to have the tamales snugly fitted together so that they are standing up straight and you can see the masa inside the tamales.
  9. Fill the pot with boiling water until the tamales are half way submerged.**
  10. Cook until the masa is cooked all the way through. The masa should no longer be pasty.




It has taken me over 20 years to get this recipe from my Mother-in-Law.  This is a very unique recipe because the masa has the fat from the meat and some of the chile sauce added for flavor, texture, and color.  I hope you enjoy this recipe, we do!

* You may substitue the pork with chicken, turkey, or shredded beef.

**If you need to add more water to the pot, make sure its already boiled, otherwise it will increase the cooking time dramatically.

Member Comments

Leave a comment about this recipe...

Jamie P.
12/29/2008 7:36 PM ET
I am so excited about this recipe! My Mom and I love tamales, and we have been trying to learn a tried and true recipe!