12 tamales


             Tamales are a good dish for entertaining. The dough may be made 5 or 6 hours before filling the tamales, and the tamales may be rolled and refrigerated 12 hours before steaming them. They hold quite well covered after steaming and may even be reheated in a microwave oven. This sauce also reheats quite well. Don't ever be discouraged by the length of a tamale recipe!


1/2 package dry tamale husks, at least 30 husks



1 shallot, minced

1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels

3/4 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature

4 tablespoons, vegetable shortening, at room temperature

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Pinch cayenne pepper

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

1/4 cup roasted, peeled and diced poblano chili or green bell pepper

1 cup chopped raw shrimp (about 1/2 pound)



2 tablespoons butter

1 shallot, minced

24 medium to large shrimp (1 1/2 pounds)

3/4 cup water and white wine mixed or water only

1 1/2 cups corn kernels

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup roasted, peeled and diced poblano chili

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro




12 fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish


            Clean and soak the husks. Put the shallot and 1 cup of the corn kernels in a food processor bowl fitted with the metal blade or in a blender jar. Process until the kernels are finely ground. If you are using a blender, add some of the chicken stock as well. Pour into a mixing bowl. Add the cornmeal, butter and shortening. Beat to mix well. Combine the chicken stock, sugar, baking powder, salt and white and cayenne peppers in a small bowl. Pour into the cornmeal mixture and stir to make a dough the consistency of thick cake batter. Fold in the remaining corn, the red pepper, chili and chopped shrimp. Let the dough rest until firm enough to hold its shape, about 20 minutes.

            Select two husks of approximately the same size and overlap the wide ends in the middle. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the dough in the center. Roll the edges inward to make a fat cigar shape. Tie each end with a piece of string or strip of husk and fringe them.

            Steam on top of the stove or in a preheated (450' F.) oven until the tamales are puffed and moist and hold their shape, about 25 to 35 minutes. Check water level after 15 minutes and add more hot water if necessary. Keep tamales covered for up to 20 minutes before serving.

            To prepare the sauce, heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and shrimp and sauté for 2 minutes. Remove shrimp. Add the water and wine and corn to the skillet and cook over high heat until half the liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and chilies and continue to cook over high heat, stirring often, until the cream thickens, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the red bell pepper, shrimp and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

            To serve, cut the tamales down the center with a sharp knife. Pinch the ends and gently pull them apart to loosen the filling. Place one tamale on each plate and spoon the warm sauce on top, allowing it to spill onto the plate. Garnish each serving with a sprig of fresh cilantro and fresh tomatillo relish, if desired.