Tamales with No Corn

Grain Free Corn Free Tamales

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Tamales with No Corn

Tamales are a process and these are definitely worth the time and effort! These are delicious, and very much like the REAL THING. They are so good that I ate 8 of the 15 we made yesterday, all by myself. I say these are a winner!

Matthew asks for “Mollies”

My son Matthew asked for “mollies” a few nights ago. My husband and I, as happens on occasion, were stumped. Matthew drew pictures and pantomimed. Finally after about fifteen minutes, my husband got it. Tamales! I have been missing tamales, living in Arizona, especially at this time of year. Our Hispanic community is making and selling tamales everywhere. Even at work for our potluck someone brought homemade tamales, which of course I was not able to eat since they contain corn.

I'd thought about trying to make tamales using coconut flour [affiliate link] or almond flour [affiliate link], but that's as far as I got.  When Matthew asked, I decided to start looking.

Making tamales was going to be a bit of a challenge, in that while I have eaten many tamales in my 49 years, I have not actually made them. It helps tremendously when you know what texture you are after.

However, I am lucky that my husband and our younger son have made traditional, authentic Mexican tamales many times in the past few years. I've watched them but haven't actually participated in the process. Thankfully my husband was home to observe as I put the dough together.

Coconut Flour Didn't Work

Last weekend I tried a recipe using coconut flour; but it did not work out. The coconut flour was just too, too sweet tasting and the tamales were moist but somehow sucked every bit of moisture out of my mouth and then clumped in my throat, you know how coconut flour can do that sometimes?

Would Almond Flour Be the Ticket?

So next on the list… almond flour. I did a search on the Internet and found this recipe: Tamales. Yes, Tamales. from Not Just Broccoli  but it calls for oat flour… which is not GAPS legal. The flax seed is GAPS legal, although it is considered an advanced food. Dr. Natasha says this on her FAQ page about flax seed:

Flax and chia seeds and oils are allowed on the Full GAPS diet. As a whole seed they are very fibrous and should not be consumed until diarrhoea has cleared completely.

All right, this is where things get complicated because making tamales isn't something you do all at once. First you need some good meat to put inside the masa and second you need chili sauce.

The Meat

3 or more pounds of Pork butt roast or chuck roast

Toss the meat into your crock pot and cook on low for 10 hours, or until you can easily shred the meat using a fork. Once you have the meat shredded, mix in red chili sauce to moisten it.

The Red Chili Sauce

For the sauce, I have to send you to a different recipe. This is the one I used: Red Chili Sauce To Be Used with Traditional Tamales

However, I omitted the flour since we are gluten-free. Here are the other changes I made to the recipe:

  1. I didn't roast the dried chiles in the oven (I didn't notice that step)
  2. I soaked the dried chiles in 3 cups of pork broth which I took from the meat in the crock pot and blended the chiles in the pork broth which they soaked in to soften

I am really not sure what happened but my sauce ended up thick like paste. Which was okay with me, I just put in more broth to water it down.

Now for the masa part of these tamales. My husband recited the recipe that he and our son used when using regular corn masa, and between his and the recipe mentioned earlier (Tamales. Yes, Tamales. from Not Just Broccoli) I came up with my own, and wow was I lucky to hit it on the first try! Sometimes that just happens! I did make a second batch today to retest and make sure I had the ingredients correct.

Almond Flour Flax Meal Masa

  • 2-1/2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 cup flax seed, freshly ground into powder (I use this brand: Go Raw’s Organic Sprouted Flax Seeds)
  • 8 ounces lard
  • 1/2 cup broth, red chili sauce or water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

The masa is very easy to put together. Just place all ingredients into a big bowl and mix until thoroughly blended. I videotaped the process and you can see that here:

Yesterday my husband helped me put together the first batch of tamales and we made 15 tamales using the masa mixture. I think that is because my husband made some fatter tamales, whereas my second batch today I made all slender tamales.

Since I opened my big mouth on Facebook and shared the recipe, I wanted to hurry and get the recipe up, but I only had 10 ounces of meat left. So I was only able to make 10 tamales with this batch. I have quite a bit of masa left over, at least enough to make two dozen more tamales.

So I am going to go out on a limb and say the masa for this recipe will make 36 small tamales. You will need about one ounce of meat for each tamale, plus 1 black or green olive to stuff in the middle. Please do not go “authentic” and use green olives that are not pitted unless you warn anyone eating your tamales that they have basically a rock inside. 😉

Okay, now for the assembling process. I have a video, and I have still photos. Here's the video – I assemble four or five tamales so you can see the process a few times.

I love my Spatula Spreader, it's this one here:

Okay, get yourself a couple of tablespoons of masa on your spatula spreader or spoon or whatever you are using.

Grain Free Corn Free Tamales

Spread onto the parchment paper. I used Unbleached Parchment Paper.

Grain Free Corn Free Tamales

Spread it out until it is about as thick as two quarters (so says my hubby). This is roughly about 6″ x 5″.

Grain Free Corn Free Tamales

Line up some tamale meat in the center of the masa, and tuck in one black olive.

Grain Free Corn Free Tamales

Fold over until the two ends match up against each other.

Grain Free Corn Free Tamales

Grain Free Corn Free Tamales

Using your thumbnail or fingers, squish the thin layer of masa toward the tamale. Squish the parchment paper at both ends so that the masa meets.

Grain Free Corn Free Tamales

Fold the parchment paper over, then fold up at the bottom. Leave the top unfolded.

Grain Free Corn Free Tamales

Trim the top edge of the parchment paper.

Grain Free Corn Free Tamales

Using a colander and steamer, stand the tamales up well above the water. To help these stay upright I crumpled a piece of aluminum foil and tucked it behind the tamales.

Grain Free Corn Free Tamales

Cover with a damp towel and allow to steam for about one hour.

Grain Free Corn Free Tamales

When one hour is up, remove one tamale and let it sit on the counter for a few minute to cool and firm up. Unwrap after a few minutes and make sure the masa is set up. If it is firm to the touch, then you are probably good to go! Turn the heat off and remove those babies from the pot.

Please let me know if you get a chance to try these, I would love to know how they turn out for you!

This recipe shared at Fat Tuesday.

In case you are interested, the coconut flour tamale recipe can be found here: Play Hard, Eat Good: Cold Coconut Chicken Tamales

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18 thoughts on “Grain Free Corn Free Tamales

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  2. Well I tried these tamales yesterday and I have to tell you they made me weak in the knees. Awesome recipe! Thank you so much for sharing this. It’s so hard on the GAPS diet sometimes when everyone around you eats all the things you loved and all you can do is smell and remember. These tamales are such a blessing!

  3. Oh Norma! I am so glad to hear that you were happy with the tamales! I love them so much, I know just what you mean – there are just SOME foods that you wish you could have and it’s so wonderful to find a substitute. Thank you so much for letting us know! 🙂 ~Starlene

  4. So glad to find an alternate without corn, I haven’t had tamales since well before my diet change 5 years ago (I have Celiac and am allergic to dairy as well). I wanted to try to try this using almond flour but we were lower then I realized so I used Millet which I know is not GAPS but, did work remarkably well for those who are looking for Gluten free/Corn free option. Happy Tummy

  5. Do you think these would freeze well? If so, would you freeze them before or after steaming them? I’m always in search of things I can make in a big batch and freeze for easy lunches.

  6. Melissa, I haven’t tried freezing them, but I would be concerned that freezing would change the properties of the mixture if you freeze before steaming. I think it would be safer to freeze when they are completely done. Let me know how it works out for you! ~Starlene

  7. I am steaming my vegan tamales right now. It has been an hour and they still seem raw. I have a tamale cooker. I took the lip off and am now using a towel like you show. Will,that be better????
    I really want these to turn out.
    Thank you.

  8. Hi Renee – so sorry I didn’t see this earlier! Yes, I think it’s really important to only use a towel. Using a lid would hold extra moisture in the tamales. I hope they finally got done! Let us know how it went! ~Starlene

  9. Hi, thanks for getting back to me. After using the towel they did finish cooking. I froze them, but I may have to redo them. I think I have a corn intolerance and my baking powder has corn starch. It is a lot of work, but I don’t want to feel sick.
    Thanks for your great recipe. I appreciate all the work that went into making these.

    Merry Christmas!

  10. Hi Lydia! I would love to hear how these turn out for you. I was really, really happy with these. Best regards, Starlene

  11. I am very allergic to corn. I make my own baking powder, using recipe from The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook by M. H. Jones.

    1 part cream of tartar
    1 part arrowroot
    1 part baking soda.

    I usually use a tablespoon, take 1 tbsp of each powder, go around in circles until I have a good amount in my container. Then I stir and shake till it is well mixed.

  12. Hi Ruthann, thank you for sharing this recipe. I just wanted to point out to my followers that cream of tartar and arrowroot are not GAPS legal so they should be avoided if you are doing strict GAPS. Thanks again for visiting and taking the time to leave a comment! Best regards, Starlene

  13. Hi Rebecca, I have not worked with rice flour. I did try coconut flour and didn’t like it. If you try it with rice flour, let me know what you think about how it turns out. And for my GAPS followers, rice flour wouldn’t be allowed if you are on strict GAPS. Best, Starlene

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