Ecuadorean Ecuadorian Tamales De Navidad - for Christmas

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“This is our family recipe for traditional Christmas tamales. They are nothing at all like Mexican tamales. The dough is smoother and slightly sweet. The filling is also completely different from any other kind of tamale I have ever eaten. I have given the family recipe but, of course, I have made a few changes to it. I use all butter instead of using any lard, though everyone says that they taste better if you use the lard. I usually use 4 lbs of masa flour and 12 cups broth. I use 2 large whole chickens for that quantity of masa, and 2 1/2 lbs butter, no lard, and it works out well. Of course you have to increase all other ingredients accordingly. Some stores carry Maseca instead of Masa Harina. It is just as good. Though these are very fattening and very labor intensive, they are worth it. I make the increased quantity so that I can give them away. Even the people at work like them. We make them only once a year, so forget about the diet. We all love these!”
6-8 tamales

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Place whole chicken in large pot with water to cover. Add 1 whole onion, 1 garlic clove, 2 sprigs parsley, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Cook on medium heat until the chicken is falling off the bone.
  2. Remove chicken from water & cool.
  3. Strain broth and reserve 4 cups.
  4. When cool, skin and bone chicken. Shed chicken meat.
  5. Add 2 tbsp oil in skillet and add 1/2 diced onion. Sauté over low heat until very soft. Add peanut butter and mix until melted, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tbsp sugar, milk and allspice. Cook until almost ready to boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. In large heavy pot, place masa flour and 3 cups cooled broth. First whisk and then continue to mix with strong wooden spoon. Cook over medium high heat, do not let lumps form. Turn often with wooden spoon. When a thin dark brown crust forms on the bottom of the pot, it is done.
  7. Let masa cool in pot until lukewarm. Turn masa out onto board or waxed paper.
  8. When cool enough to handle, add butter, and lard if you are using it. Knead in by hand. Add 6 oz sugar and knead it. Taste a bit of masa for salt. If your broth was not salty, add 1/2-3/4 tsp salt. Add in the 3 eggs, one at a time. Knead well.
  9. Separate out balls of dough, about the size of a small lemon. Place in center of each banana leaf or foil or parchment paper square wrapper and pat out with your hand until each is about 6" round.
  10. Place about 1/4 c chicken filling onto each masa round.
  11. Place one piece of hard-boiled egg, one olive, 1 slice red bell pepper, 3 pieces of parboiled onion and 3 raisins on top of chicken mixture on each masa round.
  12. Fold over each round into half-moon shape and press edges together well.
  13. Fold over wrapper and tie with kitchen twine if using banana leaves. if using foil or parchment paper, seal edges well.
  14. Place tamales, in batches, in steamer and steam for 30 minutes.
  15. Serve with wrapper still on. Each person opens their own.
  16. If you want to omit a certain filling ingredient from some of them, you can tie different colors of thread around those to identify them later.

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