Turkey tamales

Step One, Turkey
  • Whole turkey, thawed
  • 2 teaspoons California chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 onion, finely chopped



  1. Break down the raw turkey and place pieces in a large pot. Fill with enough water to completely cover the meat. Stir in chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt, black pepper, and onion.
  2. Cover and cook over high heat until boiling. Once boiling, turn heat down to low and simmer for about 1 ½ hours until meat is tender and is easily removed from the bone.
  3. Remove the turkey meat and drain over a colander, letting cool. Reserve the cooking liquid in the pot.
  4. Remove the meat from the bones and shred by hand, taking care to remove any skin and cartilage.


Step Two, Mole
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups California chili powder
  • 7 cups broth
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground garlic
  • Corn husks



  1. In a large stockpot, brown the flour in the vegetable oil.
  2. Add 1 cup of broth at a time, stirring while over low heat until sauce becomes thick.
  3. Add the chili powder and spices.
  4. Add the shredded turkey and mix well.
  5. Simmer over low heat for an additional ½ hour.
  6. While simmering, soak corn husks in warm water or until they can be separated easily. Rinse, drain, and set aside so they can dry.


Step Three, Masa
  • 5 pounds prepared fresh masa
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup broth
  • ¼ cup California chili powder
  • 2 16 oz. cans of large pitted black olives



  1. Using hands, combine masa with baking powder and salt.
  2. Gradually add both the vegetable oil and broth, since adding too much will make the masa dough too runny to use.
  3. Add the chili powder to the masa for color.
  4. To assemble the tamales, spread masa on the smooth side of the corn husks, in a four-inch-wide strip at the base of the husk (opposite of the pointed end).
  5. Scoop the turkey in chili sauce into the middle. Add 2-3 olives, wrap sides around each other to enclose, and fold in half. Place open side up so that filling does not drain out.
  6. Fill the base of a steamer with several inches of water, then insert divider or steamer basket.
  7. Place tamales inside, open side up. Use the remaining corn husks to cover the tamales. Place lid on pot and simmer for 1 ½ hours, taking care that water does not all boil away. Tamales are done when the masa no longer sticks to the husk.
  8. Remove tamales from pot and cool. Makes about 4 dozen tamales.

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