Christmas in Texas! Refried Bean and Chorizo Tamales recipe and cookbook review: Tamales by Alice Guadalupe Tapp. Stovetop steamer or Instant Pot.

#Tamales #AliceGuadalupeTapp #TenSpeedPress #Christmas #Texas

91oYyB11pFLAll across the state of Texas, tamales and queso are on every Christmas Eve table. I thought I’d start off December with a big tamalefest! I’ve been playing in Alice Guadalupe Tapp’s book, Tamales: Fast and Delicious Mexican Meals. This has been a very fun, yummy experiment, and it gets easier every time. Those fresh, delicious tamales are quite a treat!

I’ll tell you all about the book in a minute, but first, let me share the recipe for Refried Bean and Chorizo Tamales with you! A big thanks to Ten Speed Press for permission!

The instructions are using a stovetop steamer. On day 7, the lid slid off my steamer onto the floor and shattered, so on day 8, I used my Instant Pot instead. I’ve got an 8 quart. If you’d like to go that route, a little water in the bottom, the tamales in a steamer basket, 40 minutes on high pressure, then quick pressure release, and then pulling them out and letting them rest for 20 minutes did the trick.

18wmRefried Bean and Chorizo Tamales

This is my mother’s refried bean and chorizo recipe, and I’ve been making it on and off for as long as I can remember. It’s equally good on its own as it is in tamales. To make a vegan tamale, omit the cheese and use Vegan masa (page 26) and Soyrizo instead of regular chorizo.

Makes 18 tamales (I seem to get 20 from every recipe ~ Jen)

2 cups prepared or 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans
3 tablespoons butter, bacon grease, lard, or oil
12 ounces chorizo
3 green onions, chopped
1 cup grated Jack cheese, fontina, or Cheddar
3 cups Basic Fresh Masa (page 21)

(20 corn husks, soaked and blotted dry. I’m adding this in here to make sure no one leaves the store without grabbing husks! ~ Jen)

If using canned beans, rinse them well and drain. Heat the butter in a 3-quart saute pan over medium heat until sizzling, then add the beans and fry them well, mixing and mashing the beans. In a separate pan over medium heat, fry the chorizo, breaking it down with a wooden spoon, until simmering, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the beans and cook, stirring, for a minute or two until the flavors are well combined. Add the green onions and cheese and cook until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool completely.

Assemble the tamales (see pages 5-6), using ¼ cup masa and 2 heaping tablespoons filling for each tamale. Transfer to a steamer and steam for 50 minutes. (These are my pics making them. She’s got an easier spreading technique below to skip the offset spatula, and I went without a tie, but her pic with the tie is below. It looks the same as mine, but with a little twine around its tummy. ~ Jen)



Page 21 – Masa Harina Tamale Masa

(I make ¼ of this recipe each time which makes about twenty ¼ cup of masa tamales. That seems about perfect for most of the filling recipes. I put the measurements that I use in blue below. ~Jen)

Many good tamales are made with dry corn flour, known as masa harina (flour) and masa seca (dry). Easy found in large chain grocery stores, it is convenient and actually the preferred masa used by many cooks and tamaleras. You may also add garlic powder and chile powder to punch up the taste.

12 cups masa harina (dried corn flour) (3 cups)
10-12 cups warm stock (chicken, pork, beef, or vegetable) (2 ½ – 3 cups)
3 cups lard, shortening, butter, or margarine, melted (3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons salt (1 ½ teaspoons)

For this amount of masa, you’ll need a very large bowl. Measure all the corn flour into the bowl. Add the warm stock, melted lard, and salt. Mix well until the texture is a soft, thick paste, adding additional stock if needed to achieve (the desired) consistency. Continue mixing by hand, use a hand mixer, or place in a stand mixer and whip at high speed until a small piece of dough floats when placed in a cup of cold water. Set aside until ready to use.

Pages 5-6 Assembling Tamales

To assemble tamales, I recommend choosing one type of assembly method and sticking to it until you master it – you will get extremely fast, guaranteed. Then move on to trying other types. For beginners, I suggest using the corn husk fold-over type (see page 10), then wrapped in parchment; it is the easiest to master.

The problem most people have when applying the masa to the corn husk wrapper is spreading it evenly, so I have devised a simpler way that doesn’t require learning the spreading technique. Alternatively, you could use a masa spreader, a relatively new tool on the market, to make spreading easier. Once you master the hand technique outlined below, though, you shouldn’t have any trouble.

1 Soak the husks, if using corn husks, or use frozen banana leaves, cut into square portions.

2 Make the masa or use the masa you have prepared ahead of time.

3 Make the filling or assemble the ingredients for your corundas.

4 Assemble the tamales (see below), refrigerate them, and then steam the next day. Or assemble the tamales and freeze them raw, then cook when desired.

5 Steam tamales by placing them in a large steamer pot, which has a steaming separator with holes in it and a space for water in the bottom of the pot, under the tamales. Stack tamales loosely with the sauce side up, the folded side down (this prevents the sauce from running out). For bundle or other tied tamales, stack them loosely, one layer on top of the other, each layer supporting the next, to allow steam to flow up and around them. Fill the bottom of the steamer with water to the maximum level (to prevent scorching). Bring to a fast rolling boil with high steam output, cover, and start timing according to the recipe. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Check the water level at the halfway point add add boiling hot water if needed.

Corn Husk Tamales: Place the scoop of masa at the wide end of the husk, wet your palm with water, and push down the masa to flatten and cover the top half of the leaf. Place your filling in the center of the masa and fold over and up, then tie with butcher string or strips of husk. Wrap the corn husk package in parchment if desired (this is especially helpful with messier fillings). (See diagrams on page 10-12 for assistance).


Back to my review of the book….

The book starts out with general tips and 10 different wrapping styles. I tried the fold-over with one tie, fold-over with two ties, and fold-over with no ties at all. I’d go with one tie if I was trying to freeze them for later, because it gives such a nice uniform, stackable shape. Two ties is my favorite, because the filling doesn’t have any little oops spills over the top and stays together so very nicely.

The first official chapter is masa, and she gives 8 different masa recipes to choose from, ranging from traditional to vegan to sweet. I love the masa harina tamale masa, and used that for all the tamales we tried. About ¼ of that recipe gives you enough masa for each of the tamale recipes. She says you can add a little garlic powder and chile powder if you like. We love about 2 teaspoons of each. Great stuff.

Then she moves on to salsas and sauces. There are 6 different ones. I usually make ½ the recipe as instructed, and that’s a generous amount for a full batch of tamales. The sauces are great: avocado sauce, chile paste, chile verde sauce, pasilla chile sauce, salsa, and tomatillo sauce. The names are all prefaced with “super easy” and they really are.

The next 5 chapters are the tamales: inside-out (the filling is poured over when you plate), meat tamales, nose-to-tail tamales (what Anthony Bourdain would call the ugly bits – delicious stuff like beef cheeks in wine), vegetarian and vegan tamales, and dessert tamales.

Here are my pics and thoughts on the tamales we tried:
1-4) Chicken and Chorizo Tamales – p 53 with Super Easy Tomatillo Salsa – p 39. We LOVED these. The flavor of the tamales is fantastic and it’s got quite a few vegetables hidden in there. The tomatillo sauce was perfect with it and that’s as easy as 7 ingredients blended in the food processor or blender, so don’t be tempted to skip it. This is what the single tie looks like.


5-6) Albondiga Meat Tamales – p 63 with Super Easy Tomatillo Salsa – p 39. I was thinking these would be more like a meatball because of the name, but they’re more like a beef stew stuffed tamale. There were no leftovers. They are super fragrant and flavorful, and are a total comfort food tamale. This is how a double tie looks.


7-8) Chicken Mole Poblano Tamales – p 55. This uses jarred mole sauce, so it’s actually a super easy one, and they’re out of this world good. She calls for 3 cups of cooked chicken in the recipe. I just sautéed some in a little garlic and olive oil on the stove, but if you want to be more traditional, you’d poach it in barely simmering water flavored with a few bay leaves and garlic. These don’t need any dipping sauce because they’re already filled with delicious mole.


9) Artichoke Tamales – p 96. These are wild. It’s like artichoke dip stuffed into a tamale. And this combo works so well.9wm
10-13) Sirloin Beef Tamales – p 64. Amazing tamales. You make a silky pasilla chile paste (1/2 recipe) and that flavors the steak, onions, and garlic filling, as well as the masa. And there was just enough left over to sauce the plate underneath.


14-18) Refried Bean and Chorizo Tamales – p 61. These were unanimously our favorite. The flavor is wonderful and the beans give the filling a creamy texture. I made the simple salsa to go with it. This is what a simple fold with no tie looks like.



19wm19) Delicious Shrimp Inside-Out Tamales – p 48. These are yummy and fast because you can get the filling (topping) going on the stove while the masa is steaming. I don’t love the shrimp technique, and there’s plenty of time while the masa steams, so I’d probably grill the shrimp and toss them in the sauce next time.
20-22) Fresh Poblano and Potato Tamales – p 100. Gorgeous fresh roasted pepper flavor with sautéed onions, potatoes, and garlic. I shattered the lid to my steamer yesterday, so I made these in an Instant pot on a steamer rack on high pressure for 40 minutes and used the quick pressure release method.



Some others I have flagged to try: Red Chile Beef Tamales – p 60 * Chorizo and Egg Tamales – p 67 * Beef Cheeks and Wine Tamales – p 71 * Wild Boar Carnitas Tamales – p 86 * Calabazita Tamales – p 95 * Pasilla Rajas Tamales – p 99 * Tamara’s Refried Bean and Jalapeno Rajas Tamales – p 103 * Jalapeno Pesto Potato Tamales – p 105

*I received a copy to explore and share my thoughts.

Need a queso book to go with your tamales?! I did a queso book last Christmas, and it’s absolutely fantastic. Here you go!

Homesick Texan’s Spinach Queso Blanco recipe



12 thoughts on “Christmas in Texas! Refried Bean and Chorizo Tamales recipe and cookbook review: Tamales by Alice Guadalupe Tapp. Stovetop steamer or Instant Pot.

  1. OHHHHH MY, i seriously wanted to do a Mexican restaurant, but I have never made tamales. I really want to try, and those chorizo refried beans and sirloin tamales sound so good…. also, I bet you use bacon grease or lard? So many questions, but I’ll just say when I do tomatillo, I do a blend with jalapeño to round out the flavors although maybe there’s a better way of doing it? (it’s also part of my base for pork green chili).


  2. 1. You forgot the recipe for the margaritas you drink while assembling the tamales.
    2. This is a really great explanation of somewhat complicated process. At the same time this is why I would always try to go to a tamalada, lol.
    3. OTOH maybe I think the process is complicated because of the margaritas (see point 1).

    Seriously looks good. I hadn’t ever thought of inside out tamales, but it’s not a bad idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well thank you! You crack me up! What kind of margaritas are we sipping? Team rocks or frozen? I’ve been loving mezcal lately. The smokiness probably makes more sense with summer barbecues, but I love it in mugs of hot something out by the fire pit.
      I hadn’t seen the inside-out version before either. I’ve noticed a lot of the books for things considered fussy have these deconstructed versions that don’t hit mainstream, but make so much sense for home kitchens. The full versions are usually way better, though.


  3. Team frozen here — but I haven’t had mezcal in years and years.
    I don’t know if I like masa enough to eat a clump of it like that. I almost certainly wouldn’t eat that much polenta in a corresponding situation. One thing about a well-made tamal is its proportionality.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You know what? Neither my husband and I are fans of tamales. Not sure why really. Too corny?? And we love just about everything Mexican, Tex-Mex, and Southwestern. But that queso book is certainly intriguing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love getting to know everyone’s personal tastes. I was reviewing a martini book the other day and you popped into mind. I realized there was nothing I could make you from that book. Maybe a lemon drop. The gin versions over the vodka, I thought.


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