Tamales de Piña con Mantequilla

December 21, 2022
0 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 5 minutes
  • makes 2 dozen tamales
Author Notes

Today we're making something a lot of Mexicans make around the holidays; tamales. usually they're savory, but we're going to change it up a little bit. I love tamales de elote; they're made around harvest time—so the late summer and fall here in Mexico. For something a little bit more sweet, I'm going to be making a gorgeous syrup to top it all off; festive for the holidays. Something that’s important to know in working with fresh masa—and I’d really like you to work with fresh masa for these—is that it’s very perishable. If it sits out or even in the fridge, it’ll start to oxidize and pick up on any “off” flavors, and even start to taste a little sour after a couple of days. If you are making fresh masa, the recipe is: 1 ½ cups masa harina (using blue corn flour, ideally) plus the manufacturer's recommended water amount will yield about 1 pound of fresh masa. —Rick Martinez

Test Kitchen Notes

Though not featured in the video, we added some water to the recipe for the pineapple butterscotch; this gives the sugar a bit of a safety buffer when cooking so it won't burn. —Food52

What You'll Need
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Tamales de Piña con Mantequilla
  • Tamales
  • 1 large pineapple, top removed, peeled, cored and cut into 2” chunks (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 pound (453g) unsalted butter
  • 3 teaspoons (12g) sea salt, plus more
  • 4.4 pounds (2 kg) masa fresca para tamales
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 cups (350g) granulated sugar, plus more if using an unripe pineapple
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 7 teaspoons (28g) baking powder
  • 30 corn husks
  • Pineapple Butterscotch
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup pineapple juice or purée
  1. Pulse pineapple in a food processor until finely chopped. Strain through a medium mesh sieve and reserve juice for masa.
  2. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, brown the butter, stirring often until it foams, then browns, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add chopped pineapple and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pineapple is very soft and fragrant and is beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, stir masa, reserved juice, sugar, allspice, cloves, and baking powder together in a large bowl until completely incorporated and masa is smooth and sticky. Add pineapple and butter mixture; stir until completely combined.
  4. Soak husks in a large bowl of hot water until soft and pliable, about 15 minutes. Using your hands, swirl husks in water to loosen any silks or dirt. Drain, rinse, and shake off excess water. Place a husk on a work surface and gently stretch out the wide end. Measure at least 6 inches wide, then tear off any excess (hold onto the scraps; you’ll use them later). The width doesn’t have to be exactly 6 inches, but if you go any narrower, your tamale might not cover the filling. This recipe makes about 24 tamales, but prep a few extra husks in case some tear.
  5. Arrange 1 prepared husk so the wide end is closest to you. Fill a ½ cup measure with masa and place masa onto husk. Use a spoon (or fingers) to create a 5-inch-thick log in the center running up the length of the husk; leave the narrow end clean. Keeping wide end closest to you, Fold 1 side of husk over masa, then fold other side over to cover. Holding tamale seam side up, fold narrow, pointed end of husk away from you and under the tamale. Set on a rimmed baking sheet seam side up. Repeat with remaining husks and masa.
  6. Line the same Dutch oven (used to make the brown butter) with husk scraps. Crumple a large sheet of foil to form a 3-inch-diameter ball to use as support. Place the ball in the center of the pot. Lean tamales on the ball so that they stand upright, with folded end down and seam side facing up, around cobs; this will take 4 to 7 tamales. Continue stacking tamales around the cobs, leaning them against one another. Pour water into pot, being careful not to get any inside tamales to come about ¾-inch up the sides of tamales. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover pot and simmer tamales, undisturbed, adding more water as needed to keep some liquid in the pot, 35 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, make the pineapple butterscotch. Bring butter, sugar, ¼ cup water, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer over medium-high heat, swirling pan to dissolve sugar. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until thermometer registers 312°F and caramel is medium amber, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and swirl in pineapple juice.
  8. Remove a tamale from pot; let cool 3 minutes. (If you don’t let it rest before checking, masa will stick to husk and appear gummy.) Remove husk; if masa sticks to husk, it’s not ready. Carefully refold and return to pot. Cook 5 minutes more; check again. If husk peels back easily, tamales are done. Remove from heat, uncover, and let sit 10 minutes before unwrapping. Serve warm with the pineapple butterscotch syrup on top.

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Rick Martinez

Recipe by: Rick Martinez

Rick Martinez is currently living his dream—cooking, eating and enjoying the Mexican Pacific coast in Mazatlán. He is finishing his first cookbook, Under the Papaya Tree, food from the seven regions of Mexico and loved traveling the country so much, he decided to buy a house on the beach. He is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit, New York Times and hosts live, weekly cooking classes for Food Network Kitchens. Earlier this year, he was nominated for a James Beard Award for “How to win the Cookie Swap” in Bon Appétit’s holiday issue.

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