A good recipe for masa combines 6 cups masa harina and 5 cups of warm water in a large bowl. Let the mixture soften for 20 minutes, then mix it on low speed until dough forms.
Add 3 tablespoons each onion and chili powder, 2 tablespoons cumin and 2 teaspoons salt while mixing. Separately, whip 2 cups of lard about 3 minutes, or until fluffy. Combine the lard and the dough slowly, while continuing to mix. When well-combined, check the consistency. If it approximates peanut butter, it is correct. If the dough is too sticky, add more masa; if it is too dry, add water. For a slightly different taste option, substitute chicken broth for water in this recipe.
Another good masa recipe uses a combination of lard and butter. In a large bowl, combine 3 1/2 cups masa harina and 3 cups hot water. Knead several times until a smooth dough forms. In another bowl, beat 1/2-pound lard and 5 tablespoons softened butter on medium speed. Add 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and continue to beat. Add the masa mixture in 4 batches until it is all incorporated. Slowly pour 1 cup chicken stock into dough and beat approximately 2 minutes, or until fluffy. Adjust consistency if necessary. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour, then beat dough at high speed before using in tamales.