Real Recipes From Real Home Cooks ®

boot's famous hot tamales

Recipe by
Gertie Dockery
Knoxville, TN

When my mother passed away years ago, her famous tamale recipe had never been written down. This recipe is the closest my sisters and I have ever been able to come to it. It originated with an 80 something year old, "Boots" , who also had never written the recipe down. We watched her make her version and tried to record the ingredients and amounts to make a written record. However, the actual ingredient amounts will depend on the the amount of ground chuck you are actually using so you could say that this is still an "unwritten" recipe as the amounts could vary from batch to batch.

yield serving(s)
prep time 3 Hr
cook time 20 Min
method No-Cook or Other

Ingredients For boot's famous hot tamales

  • 5 + lbs corn meal
  • corn oil
  • warm water
  • 5-6 lbs ground chuck
  • 1tablespoon onion powder
  • 3/4 cup chili powder plus more to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 10 oz can rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • tamale papers
  • zip loc 1 gallon freezer bags
  • 4 ply yarn or twine 6" long

How To Make boot's famous hot tamales

  • 1
    In a large saucepan, mix ground chuck, salt, onion powder, tomato sauce, Rotel tomatoes and chili powder. Adjust the amount of salt and chili powder depending on the actual amount of ground chuck you are using. Cook thoroughly, mixing occaisionally.
  • 2
    Cool in pan - then refrigerate in pan over night,
  • 3
    When ready to assemble, soak tamale papers in warm water. Tamale papers are usually found in with the Mexican foods or in the meat department at my grocery store and are sold by the pound.
  • 4
    Put on food handling gloves and roll chilled meat mixture into 2 - 2 1/2" oblong balls. Larger will make fewer tamales. Set aside.
  • 5
    To mix corn meal mixture, start with one 5 lb bag of self-rising corn meal. Add enough warm water to get a mix with consistency of cornbread mix. Add 1/2 - 1 C of corn oil and mix thoroughly. You will need to make more as needed depending on the amount of ground chuck you are using.
  • 6
    Wring water out of tamale papers and lay on flat service. (I put them on freezer paper on a kitchen table due to limited space)
  • 7
    Put a large spoon of meal mixture on each paper and pat out flat.
  • 8
    Put an oblong meat ball on each meal mixture.
  • 9
    Roll up the tamale paper being sure that the corn meal mixture is covering the meat ball. Tie with the 6" yarn or twine.
  • 10
    Put in 1 gallon freezer bags and keep frozen. You can fit 10 - 12 in each bag depending on how big each tamale is.
  • 11
    To cook -- Put in boiling water for 20-25 minutes. Remove each tamale from the boiling water, cut twine and remove tamale paper. Suggested toppings - chili, cheese, diced tomatoes.