Spicy Black Bean and Cheese Tamales

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Spicy refried black beans

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 5 cups cooked black beans, preferably homemade
  • 1 2/3 cup hot water + 3 tablespoons Massel concentrated liquid stock,"beef" flavor or 3 "beef" flavored bouillion cubes
  • 1/4 cup roasted chopped green chiles, I used Bueno Autumn Roast, you can find it in the freezer section
  • kosher salt to taste
  • juice of 1 lime

For the masa

  • 6 cups Maseca corn flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup Crisco vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
  • 5-6 cups vegetable broth, I use Massel

To assemble the tamales

  • 3 dozen dried corn husks, soaked
  • 1/2 wheel Cotija cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 wheel Queso cheese, crumbled
  • bakers twine


Soak the husks

  1. Cover the husks with hot water and soak for at least 2 hours. You may need to weigh them down to completely submerge in the water.

For the refried bean filling

  1. Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and jalapeño. Cook, stirring often, over medium-low heat until onions are softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the chili powders and cumin, and cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
  2. Increase the heat to medium. Add 1 cup beans, 1/3 cup stock, the roasted chiles, and salt. Use a potato masher or the back of a spoon to mash the beans into the liquid. Continue cooking until the liquid evaporates, 7 to 10 minutes. Add 1 more cup beans and 1/3 cup stock, and mash and cook again, stirring. Repeat, mashing and cooking and stirring, until all of the beans and stock have been incorporated, the liquid is absorbed and the beans hold together, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in lime juice, and adjust salt to taste.

For the masa

  1. Combine the Maseca, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the vegetable shortening and work into the dry mixture with your hands until they are the size of small pebbles. Add the broth and mix it into the flour with your hands until the dough is uniformly wet and soft. It needs to be easily spreadable but not runny, like the consistency of fluffy mashed potatoes. Add more stock if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.

To assemble the tamales

  1. Fill a large tamale steamer with enough water to reach the rack where the tamales will sit to cook. If you don't have a tamale steamer you can fill the bottom of a large stockpot with water and place a wire rack in the bottom.
  2. Dry one corn husk on both sides with a clean kitchen towel. Hold the widest part of the husk closest to you and use a large soup spoon to spread about 1/3 cup of the prepared masa from the middle to the bottom and out to the sides, leaving about a 1/2-inch border on each of the long sides.
  3. Place 2-3 tablespoons of the spicy refried black beans in the center and top with 1 tablespoon of cheese. Fold one long side over the other long side and roll tightly to secure. Fold the pointy end up towards the top and secure with bakers twine. Place open-side-up on the rack of the steamer. Repeat the process until all the masa and beans have been used.
  4. Place the steamer over medium heat and cook tamales until firm and no longer doughy in the middle, about 30 minutes. Remove the tamales from husks and serve with salsa, mole, guacamole or chopped cilantro.


Tamales will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months. Reheat by placing in a frying pan with 1/4 cup or so of water, cover and steam until hot.

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