We'll take any excuse we can get to gather our friends and have a feast. And, yes, during the holiday season there plenty of reasons to gather, but this year we've got yet another reason: a tamalada aka tamale-making party. Think a cookie swap but with tamales and you've got a tamalada!
The idea was inspired by Kate of ¡HOLA! JALAPEÑO who throws a tamalada every year. When she suggested it, Meg of Beard and Bonnet and we were 100% on board! It's not just a night of cooking with friends but also a chance to make a ton of tamales (which freeze well FYI) so your freezer is stocked with real homemade food leading up to the holidays. Meaning it's a pretty genius thing to do this time of year.
Traditionally, tamaladas are thrown in the Fall and Winter between Thanskgiving and Christmas but we think they'd be fun pretty much anytime. All you have to do is get some friends on board, make some tamale fillings, and then gather together to assemble tamales! We headed up to Ventura, took over Kate's backyard, invited a few more food friends (Alyssa! Bonnie!) and got to town.
Here's what we served and how to recreate it:
For the occasion, we all gathered at Kate's house and took over her backyard. This is a total family affair so everyone from Kate and Meg's littlest ones to the adults helped. Because this is going to take a while, you'll want snacks so that everyone is well fed while you put them to work. We served a non-alcoholic Cranberry Agua Fresca for everyone and a Pomegranate Ginger Apple Cider Punch for the adults.
Because we're all food lovers, we went a little overboard with the appetizers but every single last one was eaten! We served a spicy, smoky Avocado Bruschetta, a Mexican twist on Chex Mix that was this Cocoa-Chile Sweet Spicy Snack Mix, and then a full-on Charcuterie Board with Creamy Cauliflower Aritchoke Dip and a Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter. And, of course, lots and lots of tamales!
Tamalada Party Menu
Here is everything we served at our tamalada—of course, the tamale fillings were just made so that we could assemble them and then we cooked them all off, ate a few for dinner, and took home fully cooked tamales and stocked our freezers!
Avocado Bruschetta | ¡Hola! JALAPEÑO
Cocoa-Chile Sweet Spicy Snack Mix (pictured) | Salt & Wind
Charcuterie Board | Beard & Bonnet
Roasted Garlic Naan | Beard & Bonnet
Gluten-Free Biscuits | Beard & Bonnet
Creamy Cauliflower Aritchoke Dip | Beard & Bonnet
Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter | Beard & Bonnet
Basic Masa Recipe (for all tamales except sweet potato) | ¡Hola! JALAPEÑO
Chicken Roasted Pumpkin Tamales with Manchamantel Mole | ¡Hola! JALAPEÑO
Spicy Black Bean and Cheese Tamales | Beard & Bonnet
Sweet Potato Tamales With Chocolate Sauce (pictured) | Salt & Wind
Let's take a recipe-by-recipe look at the whole menu because it's a feast you're going to want to get in on:
Look, assembling tamales don't take that much work but a few tips make it easier. Here are the basics (though we get into it all more in each recipe above):
- Soak the corn husks for a few hours so they're pliable and wipe them off before using
- Start by filling the tamale with less filling than you think you'll need (you can always add more)
- Once you have them assembled you can wrap them as you please (see two ways in the photos above)
- Use colored piece of corn husks to close them or, if you're doing different kinds, use different colored twine for each type
- Unless you have fresh masa, you'll want to cook them thoroughly (that way you can all have a few when you're done) and then freeze the rest for later!
Before you start you'll want corn husks soaked, masa prepped, and all the fillings made so that all you have to do is assemble and cook once the party gets started. Here are a few supplies to help you out:
Corn Husks - if you're going to do this again, you might as well buy a lot but only soak what you think you'll use!
Masa Harina - we used dried masa but you could use fresh too!
Colored Twine - if you're making various types, you can designate one color to each tamal!
Tamale steamer - FYI a large pot with steamer insert will also work
Tamale-Making Kit - if you want everything all in one purchase!
Shop The Party
Most of the tableware we used was vintage from our various collections but here are a few details that are shoppable:
All photos by Salt & Wind and Beard & Bonnet