Start with the equipment you need:
Before beginning your tamale adventure, you’re going to need some important tools of the trade. Some substitutions can of course be made, but we’ll show you what we prefer.
Large steaming vessel: We use a large stainless pot with a glass lid and a large perforated steaming basket. The larger the better. Although tamales are certainly worth the trouble, fact is they can be a decent amount of work. You wouldn’t want to do all of this for just a couple dozen tamales. You need a pot deep enough to hold the tamales and something that holds enough water that you won’t have to be refilling every 10 minutes. The glass lid is nice because you can satisfy your curiosities without letting the steam out.
Measuring devices: As many or as few as you like. Everything from large measuring cups to small measuring spoons will come in handy.
Silicon spatula: This device is key. A lot of the trick to making good looking tamales is the ability to get very sticky masa dough onto a damp corn husk in a smooth and controlled manner. We feel that the silicon spatula is the best way to go. Also, comes in handy when you’re getting down to the bottom of the masa bowl.
Tongs, forceps, or chopsticks: You’re going to need something to handle very hot little tamales. Big pots produce big steam. The longer the handles the better.
Gravy separator: One of the keys to this delicious recipe is using the stock from the meat to moisten the masa mix. Of course, you don’t want all of the chicken and pork fat going into the mix so you’re going to need a way of getting it out. You can use a ladle, or chill the stock and wait for the fat to solidify, but a good gravy separator comes in handy.