Masa 1


Courtesy of Liz Peña

This recipe comes from Eduvijes (Edu), a family friend, who makes the most wonderful jalapeño and cheese tamales. Every year, on special occasions, we wait for Edu’s tamales and fight over the ones that contain the chili and cheese. When we were growing up in Fremont, California, our family got together with the Olivares family, who lived down the street from us, to make tamales for Christmas. We children mainly played among ourselves and sometimes helped by spreading the masa on the corn husks, filling them and folding them over. We’d make several dozen and steam them in a gigantic tamal pot. I remember that we’d make both red and green tamales. The red ones were beef, and the green ones were pork—they were both delicious.


Masa 1


For 8 Dozen(s)


  • 12 pounds pork OR
  • 5 chickens
  • 4 pounds lard
  • 20 pounds freshly ground, unprepared masa
  • Pork broth
  • 10 tablespoons baking powder
  • Salt, to taste

Masa 1 Directions

  1. Melt the lard one day before preparing the masa. Heat it until it comes nearly to a boil then let it cool.
  2. The next day, place the masa in a giant bowl. Add the broth, baking powder and salt. Begin to mix, then add the lard and mix for one hour, or until the masa is fluffy. (The trick here is that a pinch will float in a glass of water.)
  3. If using a heavy-duty mixer, you probably won’t have to mix as long—more like 10 minutes. Do not take shortcuts here; this is a critical step that greatly affects the taste and texture of the tamales. After the masa becomes fluffy, let it rest for about 1 hour.

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