Beef Tamales cooked in the Instant Pot in half the time. Along with masa made with bacon drippings and filled with a flavorful shredded beef.
Tamales are a common dish eaten during the holidays and can range from savory to sweet. Families traditionally make large batches and an assembly type line is helpful to get the process moving quicker. The recipe I'm sharing with you is for a small batch, but of course can be doubled up as needed.
My first tamale recipe can be found Here. I also cooked the tamales in the Instant Pot, but this recipe will feature the masa made with bacon drippings.
How to Make Instant Pot Tamales
First, you need an Instant Pot, I'm using the 8 qt model. If you don't have one then the recipe can still be adapted to cook the shredded beef in a slow cooker or stove top, and steam the tamales on the stovetop.
Second, I mixed the masa in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. If you don't have one, then try using a handheld mixer or the traditional way of needing it with you hands. Fair warning, this will take you a good 15 minutes of mixing with you hands.
As I mentioned, we're making this masa with bacon drippings, and oh boy is it good!
You want the masa to be flavorful, so be sure to taste it before you start assembling. I used a low sodium beef broth and added an extra teaspoon of salt.
Third, you need a good flavorful filling. The filling combinations are endless, and can be adapted to what you prefer. For these tamales, I made my easy Mexican Pot Roast, which is similar to ropa vieja.
Other filling options:
Make the filling first and allow it to cool prior to filling the tamales. You also don't want the meat the have to much liquid, since it can leak out of the tamale.
Assembling The Tamales
Begin by rinsing the husks or hojas, to remove any dirt or debris. Then get a large Pot, place your corn husks in, and cover with hot water. You can also place a pot of water over the stove, bring to a boil, turn off the heat and add the corn husks. Soak them for 20-30 minutes, or until they are pliable. Then drain out the water and lay them out to dry.
Once your filling is ready and cooled you can begin assembling the tamales.
I show all these steps in the Video.
Use a cutting board for your work surface. Place a dry corn husk, rough side down. The masa will be spread on the smooth side. If the corn husk or hoja is too small then you can overlap 2 together.
Spread an even layer of masa in the middle of the husk and reaching to the sides. Leaving a small edge on the husk. I used a spatula for easy spreading.
Then place your filling in the middle of the masa. Fold both sides to the middle, then fold the bottom part up.
You can also use thin pieces of the corn husk to tie the tamale like a little present.
Cooking Tamales in the Instant Pot
Another option is to use the trivet and place a piece of foil on top will some holes for the steam to come through. You just want to make sure the tamales are not touching the water.
Additionally, you don't want the top of the tamales to reach the lid, because then it won't create a seal and the instant pot won't come up to pressure.
Set the timer for Manual- High Pressure- 30 minutes. I let the pressure release naturally for a 10 minutes, then released the remaining pressure.
Remove the tamales from the pot and check if the masa is cooked all the way. It will easily release from the corn husk once it's cooked. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Place Water in the bottom of a steamer pot, place steamer insert and layer tamales standing up. Cover top of pot with a layer of foil and place lid. Bring water to a boil. Have water at a gently boil for at least 1 hour. Periodically check to see that there is still water in the bottom of the pot.
After an hour, remove a tamale from the pot and check if the masa is cooked all the way. It will easily release from the corn husk once it's cooked. If it does not, then continue cooking and check every 15 minutes.
Once cooked, remove tamales from pot and allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.
How to Store and Reheat tamales
Once the tamales are completely cooled, leftovers can be stored in a zip top bag in the fridge for 4 days or in the freezer for a couple months.
To reheat refrigerated tamales, place a damp paper towel over them and microwave for 2 minutes until heated through. Keep the corn husk on the tamale while you reheat them to prevent them from drying out, then remove husk before eating.
Click on the image to watch the YouTube Video:
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Instant Pot Beef Tamales
- Instant Pot
- Stand Mixer
- 1 bag Corn Husks You'll need at least 16 husks
- 3 Cups Fine Mexican Corn Flour (Masa)
- ½ tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Salt (taste the masa and see if more salt is needed)
- ½ Cup Filtered Bacon Drippings Avocado oil, Olive Oil, or Lard (Manteca) can be used as well.
- 3 Cups Beef Broth Low Sodium and make sure the broth is warm.
- 3 Cups Cooked Shredded Beef See Recipe in Notes
- Rinse corn husks or hojas and place in a pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil, once boiling turn off heat. Let corn husks soak for 20-30 minutes, or until they are soft and pliable. Remove from water and allow husks to dry off.
- In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add corn flour, salt, baking powder, and filtered bacon drippings. If you do not have bacon drippings, then use oil or lard (manteca). Begin mixing on low speed to incorporate.
- Gradually add in warm beef broth as the mixer is still going on low speed. Once all the broth is added increase speed to medium. Keep mixing and scraping down the sides of the bowl every few minutes until a soft smooth dough forms. Taste a little bit of masa for seasoning. If more salt is needed, add salt and mix the dough again.
- If making tamales right away then set aside, otherwise cover with plastic wrap or a towel and place in the fridge until ready to use.
Assembling the Tamales
- Take one dried corn husk and place on a work surface. If the husk is too small then overlap 2 together.
- Spread an even layer of masa in the middle of the husk and reaching to the sides. Leave a small edge on the husk. Add shredded beef filling to the middle, I did about 2 spoonfuls.
- Fold both sides to meet in the middle, then fold the bottom end up to the top of the tamale. Place in a dish until all the tamales are assembled.
Steam the Tamales
- Instant Pot Method: Add 1 cup of water to the instant pot and place the trivet or a steam basket inside. If cooking multiple batches, add 1 cup of water each time.
- Place tamales standing up in the instant pot. If you are using the trivet, you can place a piece of foil with holes on top of the trivet so the tamales don't touch the water. If you are filling the entire instant pot, they will be more supported. Also make sure the tops of the tamales are not touching the lid, otherwise the pot won't come to pressure.
- Set the timer to high pressure for 30 minutes. I allowed the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes then released remaining pressure.
- Remove a tamale from the pot and check if the masa is cooked all the way. It will easily release from the corn husk once it's cooked. The masa may still look under cooked when first removed from the pot. If the masa has not set, then add more water to the instant pot if needed, and cook for another 10 minutes on high pressure. Once cooked remove tamales from instant pot and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving, this helps the masa to firm up.
- Stove Top Steamer: Place Water in the bottom of a steamer pot, place steamer insert and layer tamales standing up. Cover with a layer of foil and place lid. Bring water to a boil. Have water at a gentle boil for at least 1 hour. Periodically check to see that there is still water in the bottom of the pot. After an hour, remove a tamale from the pot and check if the masa is cooked all the way. It will easily release from the corn husk once it's cooked. If it does not, then continue cooking and check every 15 minutes. Once cooked, remove tamales from pot and allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.
- Storing the Tamales: Once the tamales are completely cooled, leftovers can be stored in a zip top bag in the fridge for 4 days or in the freezer for a couple months.
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