Nut Tree Restaurant Turkey Tamales

Nut Tree Restaurant Turkey Tamales

President Herbert Hoover dined on the Turkey Tamales at The Nut Tree Restaurant, Vacaville, CA after losing the 1932 presidential election.


50 large corn husks (5 per tamale)

For the Tamale Sauce:

3 cups all-purpose flour
8 cups water
2 to 4 tablespoons chili powder, depending on heat desired
2 tablespoons chicken base or bouillon
1 to 2 tablespoons Spanish-style seasoning, Grandma’s brand if available
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt

For the Masa:

6 pounds prepared masa (available in Mexican markets)
1-1/2 tablespoons Spanish-style seasoning
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

For the Filling:

5 to 6 pounds cooked turkey, cooled, cut into large chunks or shredded
10 large Spanish green olives, with pits (traditional)
String to tie tamale ends

For Serving:

Avocado, black beans and tomato salsa.


Soak corn husks in warm water for 10 minutes or until soft. Rinse in cold water, removing all silk. Stand husks on end to allow excess water to drain.

To make the Tamale Sauce:

Combine flour with half of the water, mix until smooth. Set aside. Combine remaining water, spices and seasonings in a large pot and bring to a boil. Slowly add flour mixture while stirring until smooth. Return sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook while stirring for 15 minutes
or until mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

To prepare the Masa:

Combine prepared masa and spices until completely mixed.

To make one Tamale:

You will need 5 husks for each tamale.

  1. Spread a 1/4-inch-thick layer (about 3 tablespoons) of masa across the centers of 4 prepared husks. Leave about 2 inches at each end of the corn husks without masa.

  2. Pour 1 cup of the tamale sauce on the center of the fifth corn husk. Place 8 to 10 ounces of turkey and one olive on top of the sauce of the fifth husk. Holding the ends of the fifth husk, roll the husk around the sauce, turkey and olive, completely enclosing them.

  3. While continuing to hold the sauce husk ends (the fifth husk), place one of the masa-covered husks, masa side up, under the sauce husk and gently roll it around the sauce husk.

  4. Repeat this process with the last three masa-covered husks.

  5. Wrap string tightly around each end of the tamale twice and tie with a double knot. Cut excess string off each end, and then wrap entire tamale in parchment paper.

NOTE: The tamale may be frozen at this point, in an airtight plastic bag, or refrigerated up to two days.
Repeat the process with the remaining sauce, husks, masa and filling. When ready to use tamales, steam them for best quality. Do not microwave.

To steam the Tamales:

Arrange tamales in a single layer on a steamer. Pour boiling water to just below the rack and cover tightly.
Steam about 1 1/2 hours or until center reaches at least 140 degrees. Keep water boiling hard over medium-high heat. Add more boiling water as it boils away.
If you are cooking frozen tamales, steam an additional half-hour.

To Serve:

Use your largest dinner plates. Provide extra plates to take care of the husks as they are discarded. Take up one tamale at a time onto a platter or cutting board. Remove parchment paper. With a sharp knife, snip cords at ends of tamale. Lift tamale onto dinner plate.

The Nut Tree served their tamales with avocado, black beans and tomato salsa.

Makes 10 tamales

Source: Sacramento Bee newspaper