Cooking Louisiana - Hot Tamales

Hot Tamales are a big favorite of mine.  [Pictorial Recipe]

This recipe is a variation of our friend Ms. Barbara back in Houma, and, is a football party regular..just a little spicy.

For 3 lbs. Ground meat or chuck.

1 ½ tsp Cumin
2 Tbs. Powdered garlic
1 ½ tsp red pepper
1 ½ tsp white pepper OR 1 tsp. Black pepper (the white is hotter)
1 ½ Tbs. Salt
1 Tbs. Onion powder
¼ cup chili powder
4 Tbs. Sugar
½ cup corn meal
2 -  8 oz. Tomato Sauce
½ cup water (tip – in about 4 cups of water boil 6 bay leaves for about an hour (med – low heat)) save the remaining water, you’ll use it later.

Tamale papers – usually 4-1/4” X 5” – If you use corn husks they’ll be random sizes.


Mix all dry ingredients together. Pour in liquids and mix. Add mixture to raw meat and mix well, very well!

Note: keep the finished mixture cool, never let it get room temperature; you don’t want it to spoil. Put it in the fridge if you have to.

Separate papers (so they’re easy to pick up) into a bowl of water. 

Note: you’ll add papers as you need them….! They need to be in the water only a minute or so. (good-n-wet)

  • Get your cooking pot ready – this must be a pot deep enough that you can put the tamales in and just cover with liquid. If you're doing a big batch use a casserole dish to hold them temporarily.
  • Prepare your cornmeal dredging dish – A 2” –  3” deep casserole (or similar) that you will roll the tamales in. Fill ¼ with cornmeal and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Prepare your tamale rolling plate – just get a dinner plate.

Here we go: place a paper on the plate, grab a small handful of meat mix and form it into what appears to be a tamale (about 2 Tbs.), roll it in the cornmeal, place it on the paper, wrap it and put it in the pot.


One end will be open (that’s what you want…juices go in when cooking) Place the tamale on the paper near one end and fold the long end of the paper up towards the short end. 

Fold over to begin the roll. and continue to roll.

Next: lay the tamales down in the pot (don’t stand them up).  Lay them in rows and then cross them as you stack them. 

Next: Make your cooking sauce!

3 - 8 oz. Tom. Sauce
3 Tbs. Chili Powder
1 ½  Tbs. Onion powder
1 Tbs. Garlic Powder
1 Tsp. cayenne
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbs. Sugar
2 cups bay water or regular water…

Mix all well and pour over tamales. Add water to cover tamales. Cook for 1 1/2 hours. (Start on medium heat to get boiling then lower heat to a simmer and cover.)

Hint: let sit for about an hour or more before removing (eating)…

Recipe notes:

  1. The sugar neutralizes the acid (heartburn) in the tomato sauce, (DON’T LEAVE IT OUT), it’s not used to make the tamales “sweet”.
  2. Double or triple the recipe – no problem…
  3. Be careful with the pepper…
  4. Feel free to add chopped fresh spices (onions, garlic whatever!) Hey, it’s your company that has to eat it! Seriously, you can put the fresh stuff in but keep in mind that the cooking time is short and flavors don’t have long to come out, unless however, you let the batch sit on the stove (or fridge) for hours (which ain’t a bad idea to begin with!).
  5. Consider cooking them the day before the gang comes over and leave them in the fridge. Reheat as needed.
  6. Freezes well, put in Ziplocs with liquid.

 This is how I like it, however, do yo’ thing!



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