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Chipotle Pecan Tamales

I have been itching to make tamales.  I have the masa, the corn husks, the chipotles and the desire! 

I came across an interesting post for some nut butters that can be purchased.  One flavour combination appealed to me and that was a spicy chipotle pecan butter.  I am attempting to recreate this butter and using it in a Tex Mex style tamale.  I thought that sweet corn would complement the spicy and nutty flavour of the butter filling. 

Tamale Dough

4 cups masa mix
4 cups lukewarm water or stock (I used the soaking liquid from the chipotles and stock)
2 cups of fresh or frozen corn off the cob
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups lard

If using fresh corn on the cob, grill on a barbecue until tender.  With a sharp knife, cut all the kernels off the cob.  If using frozen corn kernels this step is not necessary.  Place the corn in a food processor and pulse two or three times to slightly break up the kernels.  Set aside.

Combine masa mix, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Work in the water or broth using a stand mixer, if possible, or otherwise your fingers to make a soft, moist dough.  Beat this masa mixture until it is light and smooth and resembles a cake batter.  Stir in the corn.  Let sit for 20 minutes.

In another bowl, beat lard or shortening until fluffy.  If you have a stand mixer, this is ideal.  Beat it until very light and fluffy and until it almost triples in volume.  This will ensure a light tamale.

Slowly add the whipped lard to the dough a little at a time and mix in gently until well combined.  Refrigerate until you are ready to use it.  At this point you can test the dough to see if it has been beaten enough.  Drop a small amount, about the size of a raspberry into a glass of cold water.  If it floats, you will have a light and fluffy tamale.

Spicy Chipotle Pecan Butter

1 cup pecans, toasted
2 dried chipotle peppers, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes.
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Puree the pecans until a butter is formed, about 3 minutes.  Chop the chipotles into small pieces and add to butter.  Continue to puree until they are very finely chopped.  Add salt to taste.

To assemble the tamales:

Soak corn husks for 20 minutes and drain well.

Smear each corn husk with two or three tablespoons of the masa mixture.  Drop a teaspoon of the nut butter in the centre.  Roll the corn husk to encase the nut butter in masa and tie.

Repeat this until all of the masa mixture is used.

Steam the tamales for 45 minutes in a large pot.  Use a rack to keep the tamales out of the water so they are just steamed.


  1. I never knew this lard secret for tamales, great idea, Sarah!

  2. Wonderful job with the tamale. Great recipe and clear concise instruction.

    Fab photos as well.

  3. I've never had a chipotle, but they sure are interesting looking.

  4. I thought I had seen every tamale under the sun! These are terrific, for the simple reason that I love tamales and I love pecans!

  5. The tamales look lovely. I love the fold.....and the mexican flavours!

  6. incredible....home made tamales....I have been looking at the ingredients at my local wegman's and been thinking about making them....I remember oh so well enjoying them by the bag full with a big glass of milk! I love the chipotle pecan butter you made..
    thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Oh no, Sarah!! Did you learn nothing from my post about tamales written in the singular form? LOL!! It should be "tamal" not "tamale". :) Anyway, the tamal at the top of the photo has the perfect texture. Good job on this!

  8. Heather> thanks!

    Deana> everything I know about making tamales I learned from a man in California whose mother is Mexican and I met him on Chowhound! That's how a Canadian knows about tamales!

    Lazaro> thx :)

    Marjie> chipotles are simply, smoked and dried jalapenos!

    Joumana> I made this up :) I think tamales are a lot like making soup - use what is at hand.

    Butterfly> I love the little packages, too. I make little tamales rather than the regular full size ones.

    Chef> no problemo! I wish you luck. It really isn't that difficult. Just follow the directions ;)

  9. Sarah: I was out for dinner with Lorna tonight and asked her if she had heard anything about you - she forwarded me your email to which led me to your blog (which I love)and then I saw Tamales - I just purchased a whole book on the art of making Tamales today! I love them and can't wait to try making them. Your tips will be helpful. Amy Brooks


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