Chef Marcela Valladolid shares her easy method for tamales—and the makings of a festive tamalada.
Thomas J. Story
Written byMargo True Updated On December 21, 2022
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Basic Tamale Method
These small, fluffy tamales are less doughy than average, so you get plenty of filling in every bite. Use any leftover filling in tacos or eggs, and extra masa for the crunchy fried bites known as sopes.
Charring the chiles over a gas flame, rather than a broiler, roasts just the skin, leaving the chile underneath fresh-tasting. Buy Oaxaca cheese from Latino markets in sticks or as strings woven into a ball, to unfold. Taste some before buying—the fresher and more buttery, the better.
This fruity punch works for any holiday party. Cookbook author Marcela Valladolid and her aunts sip this as they make tamales—along with straight nips of Valladolid’s own añejo (aged) tequila, Hacienda de la Flor, which she makes with her brother Antonio. This recipe is adapted from one in Valladolid’s cookbook Mexican Made Easy (Clarkson Potter, 2011).
Marcela Valladolid serves this simple rice with tamales, and it’s delicious with grilled meats and stews, too. If you’re used to making rice in a pot, you’ll be intrigued by this frying-pan method. We’ve adapted her recipe in Mexican Made Easy (Clarkson Potter, 2011).
Simple and nourishing, these beans (frijoles) are served straight from the pot (olla) to the plate, says Marcela Valladolid. She loves them lifted out of their broth and into a warm tortilla too, with a drizzle of Mexican crema or sour cream. This recipe is based on one in her first book, Fresh Mexico (Clarkson Potter, 2009).