My first time making tamales was a breeze - though I got some major help, and they could have come out better.
I was expecting a disaster, and I was impressed with the outcome, though purely from a technical point of view. Not like "I will start up my own tamale business and make a fortune". More like, "Nobody will point and laugh or die." I have standards, after all.
My help and inspiration was finding a package of fresh masa for tamales at my local Safeway (!) of all places. I doubt they will carry this product much longer as they put it in a wierd place next to the orange juice, and down low so hardly anyone can see it. The major ingredients are corn treated with lime, pork lard, water, and salt.
So the dough made, the corn husks soaked, and the filling (a package of ground turkey) and a salsa verde that I made.
It went very slowly at first until I realized I didn't need to fold the end of the corn husks. Just tying them up 'scarecrow' style worked just fine.
The biggest problem was the flavor (an insignificant detail, right?). The salsa I made tasted great with tortilla chips, but was too tangy for the tamale. Tasted like a sour tamale.
But I digress. Technically, the flaws were kept to a minimum. And nobody has died ....yet.