I am looking for ways to to cook large quantities of Tamales but I don't have a Tamale Steamer. Anyone do this before with other standard kitchen gear? I would rather not cook them in batches as the recipes call for 2-3 hours worth of steaming...
Alton Brown recommends steaming them right in a normal tall pot with a steamer insert (your typical expanding/contracting one many people have on hand), directly in their husks. Basically, you put a couple inches of water in, and then a steamer insert, and the tamales (in the husks) go on top of the steamer.
You can find his recipe/method here.
You can also watch the episode on YouTube, go to about 4:45 in to see the tamales in the pot.
If you don't have a steamer insert of any kind, I would imagine you could fashion something out of aluminum foil without much problem. The most important thing is that you keep the tamales out of the water. In a pinch, an upside-down colander would work if you have a pot that's large enough to hold it.
Another (very low-tech) option is this hack, that basically uses a disposable aluminum pan to create the steamer/upside-down colander part of the rig. This seems like a pretty easy, straightforward solution.
Edit: as Michael points out in the comments, this seems like it could be a huge mess. I would recommend getting a disposable pie pan that's just smaller than your pot, poking holes in that, and putting it upside down in the pot like a steamer insert - seems a lot safer and more efficient than a large rectangle on top of the pot!
My husband stole my cookie racks and rigged them in his giant stock pot uses lots of foil and Saran wraps the lid on for a good steam seal and cooks about 300 tamales at a time in a few hours.