Chicken Tamale Soup


Chicken Tamale Soup

Ingredients

For Chicken Stock

  • 
3 pounds, bone in, skin-on chicken pieces (thighs, breast or drumsticks mixed)
  • 
2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 
2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 2 chile de arbol or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • A handful of cilantro, washed
  • 
1 teaspoon salt or to taste

You Will Also Need

  • 8 California or guajillo chile peppers, stems and seeds removed
  • Olive oil
  • 6 corn tortillas, diced
  • 1/2 cup white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 
1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, minced
  • 
1 yellow or red bell pepper, diced
  • 
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Strained chicken stock*, at least 6 cups
  • 2 teaspoons (or to taste) chicken base or bouillon granules
  • 2 teaspoons chile ancho powder or any mild dark chile powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 
1 1/2 teaspoons Mexican oregano, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 
2 cups pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups corn, frozen or fresh off the cob (even better)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 to 12 cooked tamales* of your choice

For Garnish

  • Avocado, diced
  • 
Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Lime wedges
  • Tortilla chips

Preparation

  1. Add the chicken to a large pot, cover with water. At least 3 inches above chicken.
  2. Add all of the ingredients listed for chicken stock.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Skim off the top when needed and continue cooking for a good 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  5. While chicken is cooking, add the dried chile California or guajillos to a pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the chicken from pot.
  8. Remove and shred all the meat from bones and transfer to a bowl until ready to use.
  9. Strain the chicken stock into a large bowl and discard all of the solids.
  10. Drain all the liquid from chiles, transfer to the blender and add 1 cup fresh water.
  11. Blend on high until smooth, set aside.
  12. In that same large pot that you cooked the stock in, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil to medium.
  13. Add the tortillas, onions, garlic, serrano and bell pepper. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes.
  14. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook for another few minutes.
  15. Strain the chile sauce from blender through a wire-mesh strainer to remove any remaining skins or seeds and add to pot.
  16. Add the strained broth and all of the remaining ingredients listed for soup, plus two cups of water or low sodium chicken broth.
  17. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Taste for spices.
  18. A few minutes before serving the soup, slice the tamales into thirds and fold into the simmering soup. You could also add a few tamale pieces to the bottom of the bowl and ladle soup over the top if you prefer.  The tamales will break down the longer they sit in the soup.
  19. Garnish soup with avocado, crushed red pepper flakes, lime and tortilla chips.

Cook’s Notes

  • The great thing about most soup recipes is that you can add different ingredients depending on what you like. Add your favorite beans, hominy or even garbanzo beans and fresh corn off the cob is a must if you get the chance. It stays crisp even after cooking and makes for a tasty soup.
  • My suggestion would be to prepare the stock or caldo de pollo the day before. Remove the chicken, shred the meat and store until the next day. Strain and discard the solids out of the stock and refrigerate overnight. Next day, remove the fat layer from stock before using in the recipe.
  • If you are using frozen tamales, let them defrost overnight in the refrigerator. I keep the corn husk on and reheat them on a hot comal or griddle until the corn husk start to char a little. This adds a great smoky flavor to the tamales. Reheating in the microwave can make them too soft sometimes.

Chipotle Pork Tamales with Cilantro-Lime Crema


Chipotle Pork Tamales with Cilantro-Lime Crema
For gift-giving, assemble and steam tamales. Cool and freeze, wrapped in husks, in an airtight container. Give frozen to loved ones with a note about reheating. No need to thaw: Steam briefly, just until heated, or wrap in a damp cloth and microwave.

Ingredients

Crema

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons no-salt-added chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8-ounce) container light sour cream
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced

Filling

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (3-pound) Boston butt (pork shoulder roast), trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 9 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
  • 6 chipotles chiles, canned in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 cup no-salt-added chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coffee

Masa

  • 2 1/2 cups no-salt-added chicken stock
  • 2 ancho chiles
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 4 cups instant masa harina
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chilled lard

Remaining ingredient

  • Dried corn husks

Preparation

  1. To prepare crema, combine the first 6 ingredients; chill.
  2. Preheat oven to 300°.
  3. To prepare filling, heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  4. Add oil, and swirl to coat.
  5. Sprinkle pork evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  6. Add pork to pan; sauté 10 minutes, turning to brown on all sides.
  7. Remove pork from pan.
  8. Add onion and garlic to pan, and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Stir in cumin and chipotle chiles; sauté for 1 minute.
  10. Stir in 1 cup stock and the next 3 ingredients (through coffee); bring to a boil.
  11. Return pork to pan; cover. Bake at 300° for 3 hours or until pork is fork-tender.
  12. Remove pork from pan, and let stand 10 minutes.
  13. Shred pork. Return pork to sauce.
  14. Increase the oven temperature to 450°.
  15. To prepare masa, combine 2 1/2 cups stock and ancho chiles in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH for 2 minutes or until chiles are tender; cool slightly.
  16. Remove stems from chiles.
  17. Combine hot stock, chiles, and corn in a blender; process until smooth.
  18. Combine masa harina, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and baking powder, stirring well with a whisk.
  19. Cut in lard with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  20. Add ancho mixture to masa mixture; stir until a soft dough forms.
  21. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead dough until smooth and pliable. (If dough is crumbly, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until moist.)
  22. To prepare tamales, immerse corn husks in water; weight with a plate. Soak 30 minutes; drain.
  23. Working with one husk at a time (or overlap 2 small husks), place about 3 tablespoons masa mixture in the center of husk, about 1 inch from top of husk; press dough into a 4-inch-long by 3-inch-wide rectangle.
  24. Spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon pork mixture down one side of dough.
  25. Using the corn husk as your guide, fold husk over tamale, being sure to cover filling with dough. Use husk to seal masa around filling.
  26. Tear 3 or 4 corn husks lengthwise into strips; tie ends of tamale with strips.
  27. Place tamale, seam side down, on the rack of a broiler pan lined with a damp towel.
  28. Repeat procedure with remaining husks, masa mixture, and pork mixture.
  29. Cover tamales with a damp towel.
  30. Pour 2 cups hot water in the bottom of a broiler pan; top with rack.
  31. Steam tamales at 450° for 25 minutes.
  32. Remove and rewet top towel, and add 1 cup water to pan.
  33. Turn tamales over; top with cloth.
  34. Bake for 20 minutes or until set.
  35. Let tamales stand 10 minutes.
  36. Serve tamales with crema.

Pork Tamales


Pork Tamales

Ingredients

Pork Filling

  • 2-1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 7 garlic cloves
  • 2 quarts warm water
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, rinsed
  • 1/2 parsley, rinsed
  • 8 sprigs thyme
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
  • 
1 cubanelle pepper, halved, seeded
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 4 scallions
2 quarts warm water

For the Salsa

  • 4 whole tomatillos, husks removed
  • 1 tablespoon salt
5 garlic cloves
  • 1 JAlapeño , seedless, deveined
  • 1 Serrano pepper, seedless, deveined
  • 
3 whole scallions
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro
1 medium Spanish onion, coarsely chipped
  • 3 sweet, small peppers
  • 1/4 green pepper, seedless, deveined, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces pork broth

For the Dough

  • 1 pound instant corn masa flour (Maseca is a top brand)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 pound (4 ounces) of vegetable shortening
  • 4 cups of warm pork broth

Extra

  • 22 corn husks
1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Special Equipment: Tamale steamer**

Preparation

  1. Prepare the corn husks: Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the corn husks.
  3. Cover, turn off the heat, and let the husks soak for 1/2 hour. Set aside.
  4. For the Pork: Add 1 tablespoon oil to a heavy pot and heat at medium-high.
  5. Add onion, garlic, meat, warm water, and the rest of the ingredients for the pork filling and let it come to a boil.
  6. Cover with a lid and gently simmer at medium heat for 1 hour or until the meat is tender.
  7. Once the meat is tender, remove from the liquid and let it come to room temperature. Shred finely. Strain the broth and put aside.
  8. For the Salsa: Blanch the tomatillos in boiling water with 1 tablespoon of salt for 1 minute. Drain and place the tomatillos in a blender.
  9. Add Jalapeño, Serrano chili, and the sweet peppers and blend well.
  10. Sauté onions in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 2-3 minutes.
  11. Add diced green pepper and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  12. Add the tomatillo mixture to the pan and cook uncovered 13-15 minutes until it reduces by half.
  13. For the Dough: In a big glass bowl, add the instant masa flour, baking powder, salt, and mix well.
  14. Add the shortening and mix by hand while slowly adding the pork broth.
  15. Knead until the dough is creamy and wet.
  16. Make the tamales: Take the corn husks, one at a time, spread 2 tablespoons of the dough in the center of the husk.
  17. Add 1 tablespoon of the salsa and a few strands of the shredded pork (if you add too much pork, the tamale will open while cooking).
  18. Fold the right side of the husk toward the center and repeat with the left side.
  19. Fold the tip upwards over the other 2 folds.
  20. Carefully place the tamales in the tamale steamer.
  21. Repeat this process until the tamale steamer is full.
  22. Cook covered at medium-high heat for 50-60 minutes, making sure that there is always water at the bottom of the pot.
  23. Remove and enjoy.

**The tamale steamer is designed as a tall metal bucket-like pot with a perforated metal divider that sits at the bottom to keep the tamales out of the hot water. The tamales are stacked upright inside the bucket.

Turkey Tamales


Turkey Tamales
Tamales are a holiday staple for Mexican-American families from the Rio Grande Valley up to North Texas, and not just at Christmas. “We have a big market for Thanksgiving tamales,” said Cyndi Hall of Tamale Place of Texas, in Leander, near Austin.

Although Ms. Hall said she’s seen more families buy tamales than ever before, many still keep the tradition of coming together to make them. You can cook up a turkey breast or extra legs for tamales to have with the Thanksgiving meal, or make the tamales with leftover turkey for the long weekend.

They aren’t difficult, but they do take time, so the more hands you have for your assembly line, the quicker it goes. Corn husks and masa mix for tamales can be found in markets that sell Mexican ingredients; make sure you get the masa for tamales (Maseca is the most widely available brand), not the finer, drier tortilla masa harina.

Ingredients

  • 1 (8-ounce) bag dried corn husks
  • 2 cups dried masa mix for tamales (do not use masa harina)
  • 5 ounces/ 2/3 cup chilled lard
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt
  • 1 cup cool chicken or turkey broth
  • 1/2 pound fresh tomatillos, husked
  • 2 jalapeño or serrano chiles, stemmed (and seeded if desired)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped white onion, soaked for 5 minutes in cold water, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 6 to 12 cilantro sprigs, plus chopped cilantro for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1 cup chicken or turkey broth
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried chipotle chiles or chipotle powder
  • 2 cups/ 1/2 pound shredded cooked turkey

Preparation

  1. Prepare the corn husks: Place in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and use a plate to submerge husks. Soak 1 hour.
  2. Prepare  the masa: In a medium bowl, mix masa with 11/4 cups hot water. Let cool.
  3. Combine lard and baking powder in a stand mixer and beat for 1 minute, until light.
  4. Add salt and masa in 3 additions, beating at medium-low speed.
  5. Gradually add 3/4 cup broth while beating on low speed; beat for another minute or two.
  6. Taste for salt.
  7. Test to see if masa is aerated enough by dropping 1/2 teaspoon into a cup of water; it should float to the top. Batter should be soft but not runny, holding together on a spoon if you tilt the spoon.
  8. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  9. Beat masa again for a couple of minutes, adding remaining broth.
  10. Make the filling: Place tomatillos in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 8 to 10 minutes, flipping them over halfway through, until softened and olive green.
  11. Drain and place in a blender.
  12. Add green chiles, onion, garlic and cilantro sprigs. Blend until smooth.
  13. Heat oil in a large, heavy saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatillo purée and stir constantly until it thickens and begins to stick to pan, about 5 minutes.
  14. Stir in broth, add salt to taste and bring to a simmer; let simmer 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often.
  15. Stir in chipotles. Sauce should be creamy and coat the front and back of a spoon. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  16. Remove from heat.
  17. Stir in shredded turkey.
  18. Make the tamales: Select 16 corn husks; look for large ones that have no tears. Take a few more and tear into 16 1/4-inch-wide strips for tying tamales. Use some of the remaining husks to line a steamer that is at least 6 inches deep (or a pasta pot with an insert); reserve a few husks in case you need to double-wrap tamales. Add just enough water to the pot to miss hitting the bottom of the basket.
  19. Lay a corn husk in front of you and pat dry.
  20. Spread a scant 1/4 cup of the masa into a 4-inch square, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border at pointy tapered end of the husk and a roughly 3/4-inch border on the other sides.
  21. Spoon a heaped tablespoon of turkey mixture down the middle of the masa.
  22. Pull long edges of husk toward each other and join them so that batter is now wrapped around the filling.
  23. Fold the two pinched-together edges over in the same direction and wrap the tamale. If it does not seem well wrapped, wrap in a second husk.
  24. Fold pointy end up to enclose the bottom and tie with a strip of husk. The wide top end will be open.
  25. Stand tamale up, closed end down, in steamer.
  26. Repeat with remaining masa and filling. The tamales should be crowded into the steamer so they remain upright. If they don’t, fill spaces with crinkled foil. If tops stick out from top of steamer, trim with scissors.
  27. Lay unused soaked husks over open tops of tamales. Bring water to a boil, cover pot, reduce heat to medium and steam tamales for 11/2 hours.
  28. Meanwhile, bring a kettle of water to a boil to replenish water in bottom of the pot, should it run out (check periodically).
  29. Tamales are done when husk comes away easily from the masa; when done, let them sit at least 15 minutes in the pot, uncovered, to firm up. Serve hot.

Basic Tamal Dough


Basic Tamal Dough

Ingredients

  • 18-ounce package dried corn husks
  • 10 ounces  ( 1 1/3 cups) rich tasting pork lard or vegetable shortening if you wish), slightly softened but not at all runny
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 pounds (4 cups) fresh coarse-ground corn masa for tamales OR 3 1/2 cups dried masa harina for tamales mixed with 2 1/4 cups hot water
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups filling, such as Pork in Red Chile or chicken in green chile

Preparation

  1. Prepare the cornhusks. Cover the husks with very hot water, weight with a plate to keep them submerged, and let stand for a couple of hours until the husks are pliable. For forming the tamales, separate out 28 of the largest and most pliable husks—ones that are at least 6 inches across on the wider end and 6 or 7 inches long. If you can’t find enough good ones, overlap some of the large ones to give wide, sturdy surfaces to spread the batter on. Pat the chosen husks dry with a towel.
  2. Prepare the batter. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the lard or shortening with 2 teaspoons salt and the baking powder until light in texture, about 1 minute. Continue beating as you add the masa (fresh or reconstituted) in three additions. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add 1 cup of the broth. Continue beating for another minute or so, until a 1/2 teaspoon dollop of the batter floats in a cup of cold water (if it floats you can be sure the tamales will be tender and light). Beat in enough of the remaining 1/2 cup of broth to give the mixture the consistency of soft (not runny) cake batter; it should hold its shape in a spoon. Taste the batter and season with additional salt if you think it needs some. For the lightest textured tamales, refrigerate the batter for an hour or so, then rebeat, adding a little more broth or water to bring the mixture to the soft consistency it had before.
    Set up the steamer. Steaming 26 husk-wrapped tamales can be done in batches in a collapsible vegetable steamer set into a large, deep saucepan. To steam them all at once, you need something like the kettle-size tamal steamers used in Mexico or Asian stack steamers, or you can improvise by setting a wire rack on 4 coffee or custard cups in a large kettle. It is best to line the rack or upper part of the steamer with leftover cornhusks to protect the tamales from direct contact with the steam and to add more flavor. Make sure to leave tiny spaces between the husks so condensing steam can drain off.
  3. Form the tamales. Cut twenty-six 8- to 10-inch pieces of string or thin strips of cornhusks. One at a time, form the tamales: Lay out one of your chosen cornhusks with the tapering end toward you. Spread about 1/4 cup of the batter into about a 4-inch square, leaving at least a 1 1/2-inch border on the side toward you and a 3/4-inch border along the other sides (with large husks, the borders will be much bigger). Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the filling down the center of the batter. Pick up the two long sides of the cornhusk and bring them together (this will cause the batter to surround the filling). If the uncovered borders of the two long sides you’re holding are narrow, tuck one side under the other; if wide, roll both sides in the same direction around the tamal. (If the husk is small, you may feel more comfortable wrapping the tamal in a second husk.) Finally, fold up the empty 1 1/2-inch section of the husk (to form a tightly closed “bottom” leaving the top open), and secure it in place by loosely tying one of the strings or strips of husk around the tamal. As they’re made, stand the tamales on their folded bottoms in the prepared steamer. Don’t tie the tamales too tightly or pack them too closely in the steamer. They need room to expand.
  4. Steam and serve the tamales. When all the tamales are in the steamer, cover them with a layer of leftover cornhusks; if your husk-wrapped tamales don’t take up the entire steamer, fill in the open spaces with loosely wadded aluminum foil (to keep the tamales from falling over). Set the lid in place and steam over a constant medium heat for about 1 1/4 hours. Watch carefully that all the water doesn’t boil away and, to keep the steam steady, pour boiling water into the pot when more is necessary. Tamales are done when the husk peels away from the masa easily. Let tamales stand in the steamer off the heat for a few minutes to firm up. For the best textured tamales, let them cool completely, then re-steam about 15 minutes to heat through.

Tamales


Tamales

Tamales from start to finish!

This recipe uses dried corn husks for wrappers. Other tamales may use fresh corn husks or large tropical banana leaves.

Tamale fillings are made of three components:

The first component is masa, a dough made of fine ground corn meal and water. It is essentially, the same dough used to make corn tortillas. It can be made, easily, from scratch or it can be purchased from specialty markets. For more flavor, the water can be replaced with chicken or vegetable broth, milk or a combination.
The second component is made by combining masa with lard or shortening, salt and baking powder. The lard is whipped for at least five minutes or until it is light and fluffy like cake frosting. The salt and baking powder is added to the whipped lard. Then, while the electric mixer is running, small handfuls of masa dough are added to the lard, mixing thoroughly before adding more masa. After it is all mixed, it is beaten for another 10 minutes to insure tender tamales. Don’t worry if it seems like the recipe calls for a lot of lard/fat. A lot of the fat renders out into the steamer water while the tamales steam.
The third component is the filling within the filling. This is where your own creativity comes into play. You can stuff them with cheese, peppers, shredded chicken or pork or any combination.
While preparing the fillings, soak the dried corn husks in water until ready to fill.

For the Masa

Ingredients

  • 1 pound instant or pre-cooked fine ground corn meal (about 2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 15 ounce can white hominy and the packing liquid
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder or regular chili powder
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • flour for dusting counter top while kneading dough

Preparation

  1. In a sauce pan over medium-low heat, simmer the milk, hominy, hominy liquid, cumin and chili powder.
  2. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Let cool and using a blender, blend until smooth.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the corn meal, milk mixture and chicken broth.
  5. Mix until everything is incorporated.
  6. Dump the dough onto a clean floured counter and, using your hands, lightly knead for 2 to 3 minutes.

Cook’s Notes

The dough should be fairly wet. You want it dry enough so it just barely quits sticking to your fingers. Add more corn meal or more liquid to achieve this consistency. Let the masa rest for about an hour before combining with the lard.

Tamale Filling

Ingredients

  • 1 batch masa as described above
  • 1/2 pound lard (about one cup)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Preparation

  1. Using an electric mixer, whip the lard for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  2. Add baking powder and salt and mix until incorporated.
  3. While mixer is running, add small handfuls of masa to the lard and continue beating until incorporated.
  4. Continue adding masa until it is all incorporated.
  5. Continue beating for another 10 minutes to insure light, tender filling.

Corn Hisk Wrappers

A few points about the corn husk wrappers. They will not be uniform in size. They are shaped, roughly, like a triangle. You will have a square of filling, measuring about 4 inches by 4 inches, so you will need edges on the husk free of filling so the husk can be rolled around the filling. For this much filling, the ideal sized husk will be 7 or 8 inches wide at the widest end and about 10 inches tall, from the widest end to the narrow end. Husks larger than this can be torn to more closely fit these measurements. Save the torn scraps for tie strips. Put the scraps back into the soaking water, so they don’t dry out. If you run out of wraps that are large enough, reduce the amount of filling and make smaller tamales.

Take a single corn husk out of the soaking water and pat dry with a paper towel or clean cloth. The corn husks will be shaped sort of like a triangle. Lay the husk on the counter with the narrow end away from you, the wide end close to you. Spread 1/4 cup of filling into a 4 inch by 4 inch square toward the wide end of the husk. Leave a border, free from filling of about 2 inches on the wide end and about and inch along both long sides of the husk. This should leave you with about 3 or 4 inches free at the top of the husk, the narrow end.

Smooth the filling, using a rubber spatula.

For the Stuffing

Ingredients

  • 1/4 pound Queso Fresco Cheese (fresh white Mexican Cheese), cut into thin sqaures about 2 inches by 2 inches
  • Roasted Red Bell Peppers – Jarred, Cut into chunks/strips about 2 inches by 2 inches

Preparation

  1. After smoothing the masa/lard filling onto the corn husk, lay a piece of cheese and some red pepper in the center of the filling.
  2. To roll the tamale, lift the two long sides up, press them together and roll them both in the same direction around the filling. I found that, usually, when I lifted the two sides up, I could slip one side in and under the edge of the filling. That way, I could make a nice snug tube with the sides rolled around each other. Once you get the hang of it, it goes quickly and easily.
  3. After you have rolled the sides around the filling, creating a tube, with the wide end at one end and the narrow end at the other end of the tube, fold the the narrow end back and toward the wide end. Tie the tamale with a thin piece of husk torn from one of the scraps. You will now have a package that is open on the wide end, folded over in the middle and secured so no filling can come out of that end.
  4. Arrange the tamales on end, in a steamer basket with the folded end facing down and the open end facing up. Fill the basket with enough tamales so that they can’t fall over and lose the filling.
  5. Put enough water in the bottom of the steamer to come just below the steamer basket. Bring the water to a boil, then place the steamer basket in, over the boiling water and cover the steamer with a tight fitting lid or with tin foil. Reduce the burner to medium or medium high. You want the water to continue to boil, but not so hard that it boils away too quickly. Steam the tamales for 1 and 1/2 hours. Check the water level periodically and replace with more boiling water as needed. Don’t re-fill with water that is not boiling.
  6. Remove one tamale and test for firmness. I found mine to look pretty wet, when I checked on them after an hour and a half. I turned the burner off and left the lid off so they could cool slightly. They firmed up beautifully while resting for about half an hour.
  7. Serve the tamales on a large platter, family style and let each guest open their own tamale package.

Cook’s Notes

I know it all sounds complicated, but once you get through it the first time, you will see that it is really very easy, and the payoff is huge! I can’t wait to try some more exotic fillings, like shredded chicken or pork braised in spicy tomato sauce.

Pork and Ancho Chile Tamales with Mexican Red Sauce


Pork and Ancho Chile Tamales with Mexican Red Sauce
Who says dinner party food can’t be low-calorie? For ease, make the pork mixture for these tamales a day or two ahead. The recipe makes quite a few servings; serve with Spanish saffron-flavored rice for a fun evening with friends.

Ingredients

  • 24 dried corn husks
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  • 1 ancho chile, stemmed
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 1/2 cups Basic Masa Dough
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 1/4 cups Mexican hot-style tomato sauce
  • Lime wedges (optional)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Combine broth, cherries, and ancho chile in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave at HIGH for 2 minutes or until cherries and ancho are tender.
  3. Combine broth mixture, onion, and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a blender; process until mixture is smooth.
  4. Reserve 1/2 cup broth mixture; cover and chill.
  5. Place remaining broth mixture in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add pork; seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning bag occasionally.
  6. Remove pork from bag, and discard marinade. Place pork on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 30 minutes or until a thermometer registers 155° (slightly pink).
  7. Let pork stand 20 minutes; shred pork with 2 forks.
  8. Toss shredded pork with reserved 1/2 cup broth mixture.
  9. Place corn husks in a large bowl; cover with water. Weight husks down with a can; soak 30 minutes. Drain husks.

Assemble Tamales

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  1. Working with one husk at a time, place about 3 tablespoons Basic Masa Dough in the center of husk, about 1/2 inch from top of husk; press dough into a 4-inch-long by 3-inch-wide rectangle.
  2. Spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon pork mixture down one side of dough.
  3. Using the corn husk as your guide, fold husk over tamale, being sure to cover filling with dough.
  4. Fold over 1 more time.
  5. Fold bottom end of husk under.
  6. Place tamale, seam side down, on the rack of a broiler pan lined with a damp towel.
  7. Repeat procedure with remaining husks, Basic Masa Dough, and filling.
  8. Cover filled tamales with another damp towel.
  9. Pour 2 cups hot water in the bottom of a broiler pan; top with prepared rack.
  10. Steam tamales at 450° for 55 minutes, adding water as necessary to maintain a depth of about 1/2 inch.
  11. Let tamales stand 10 minutes.
  12. Serve with sauce and lime wedges, if desired.

Basic Masa Dough

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 ancho chiles
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
  • 3 3/4 cups masa harina
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup chilled lard

Preparation

  1. Combine chicken broth and ancho chiles in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Microwave at HIGH for 2 minutes or until chiles are tender; cool slightly, Combine broth mixture and corn in a blender; process until smooth.
  3. Lightly spoon masa harina into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.
  4. Combine masa harina, salt, and baking powder, stirring well with a whisk.
  5. Cut in lard with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  6. Add broth mixture to masa mixture; stir until a soft dough forms.
  7. Cover and chill until ready to use.