We had our Cinco de Mayo party yesterday (4 May). It was just my wife and I making tamales, so we did it it in two batches over two days.
We made 3 types of tamale: Chicken and Cheese, Jalapeno and Cheese, and pulled pork. Tamales are a time consuming affair (much like making dumplings), but they are very simple to make. As such, it is important to make sure that you use good stuff for the ingredients.
One of the biggest things you can do to intensify your tamale flavour is by making your own stock for the masa (the dough). I used a store bought Rotisserie chicken for the chicken and cheese tamales (using the chicken carcass + vegetables/herbs to make the stock for the masa).
For both the chicken and jalapeno tamale I used a combination of shredded CoJack cheese and crumbled Queso Fresco. We made both of these sets the night before, putting them in a sealed container to keep the corn husks from drying out and splitting. Before going to bed, I put the pork into a slow cooker for the pork tamales. I have used a variety of pulled pork recipes in tamales and they have all been excellent. This particular case was a traditional Chinese BBQ (the type of meat that ends up being dyed red on the outside).
Putting a tamale together is simple. You take a flexible (soaked in water) corn husk, spread the masa on it, then put the chosen ingredients in the middle (like filling a burrito), then roll it up. Traditionally, spicy tamales are tied up with string/twine/corn husk strips. Then, throw them in a steamer for an hour.
Jalapeno/chz and Ckn/Chz Tamale