Chile, Chicken and Cheese Tamales

Why I got the urge to make tamales, I’m really not sure.  A few weeks ago I made some pork tamales, and they were good, but I wanted some with chicken.  I scoured recipes, but nothing really jumped out at me, so I took ideas from several recipes added some Real Housewife touches and came up with the recipe below.  The first batch were pretty good, but I knew I could do better, so I made a second batch using what I had learned from the first.  Aida, the woman that watches my children who is also from Mexico, said they were delicious and that I did a great job.  That made me feel wonderful about my efforts.  I hope you try and enjoy them too!!

For the Recipe:

1 lb. fresh tomatillos, if it’s not exact not a big deal, husk peeled and rinsed

1 large onion, cut into large pieces

4 garlic cloves

2 serrano chili peppers,

1 tbsp. salt

2 tsp. pepper

3 c. chicken stock, or enough to cover everything

1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 4 oz. can chopped green chiles

2 whole chicken breasts, cut into four halves For the masa:

3/4 c. lard or vegetable shortening

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

3 1/4 c. masa

2 1/2 c. chicken stock, if you must, you can substitute water

20, or so corn husks, softened in hot water

1 1/2 c. Monterrey Jack Cheese, shredded

In a large pan add the tomatillos, onion, garlic, serrano chilies, salt, pepper and chicken stock.  Cook for about ten minutes, or until the tomatillos start to soften and have changed color.  Transfer all of the ingredients from the pan plus the cilantro to a blender and blend until fairly chunk free.  You will need to do this in batches, also be careful when putting hot liquid into a blender as it will explode if you completely close it in.  I like to take the center part out of the blender lid and use a cloth to cover the hole and still let steam escape.  Return this sauce to the pan, add the cumin, can of chiles and the chicken breast. DSC_0511[1] Cook over medium heat until the chicken is fully cooked, about 25 minutes.  Take the chicken out of the pan but continue to cook the sauce until it has thickened.  Now would be a good time to test for seasoning, add more if needed.  When you are able to work with the chicken, shred it and set aside while the sauce thickens. DSC_0515[1] Once the sauce has thickened and reduced about a quarter remove from the heat and add the shredded chicken. To make the masa, in mixer, whip the shortening/lard until fluffy.  Add the salt, water and baking powder and mix in well.  Add the masa and the chicken stock one cup at a time, alternating each until done. DSC_0514[1] Mix for another few minutes to make sure the masa is nice and fluffy.  *Note: some people like a firmer masa, if this is you, don’t mix it so much. DSC_0513[1] Now time to assemble. I like to make an assembly line of the ingredients to make for easy access of everything.  Lay a corn husk, wide end away from you, down. DSC_0518[1]*I would actually put more filling than this picture… Place a couple spoonful’s of the masa on the husk and spread into a 3″ square, 1/4″ thick, make sure you leave room at both ends, pointy end will need to be folded under..  Do note that the size of the square can vary depending on the size of the husk, however, in the packages of husks you will inevitably get ones that seem like half a husk, those I use to line the bottom of the steamer and also to place on top of the tamales while they cook.  Once you have the masa spread top with a couple spoonful’s of the chicken/chile mix, down the center, next top with the cheese.  You don’t want to be too frugal with this but you need to remember it needs to be able to be closed to cook.  Next, pull up both long sides of the husk so the two sides of the masa meet, overlap the husk to close the tamale in.  You might need to use your finger a bit to get a good seam.  Then continue to roll the husk around the now closed tamale, fold up the pointed end, use kitchen twine to keep this in place and also I bit of twine at the 3/4 of the way up to keep that part wrapped around the tamale, but the top open.  Of course the use of twine is optional, I just found it kept the tamales tucked nice and tightly in the husks with it. DSC_0519[1] Place the tamales as you finish them open side up in a steamer lined with corn husks.  If you still have a lot of room left in your steamer after finishing all the tamales fill in the gap with rolled husks.  Place steamer over boiling water, but do not let the water touch the steamer.  I like to cover the tamales with a layer of corn husks before I place the lid, again, optional.  Cook for 50-60 minutes. DSC_0523[1] The masa should easily come away from the husk when they are cooked. DSC_0522[1] I love having tamales with eggs, but you can also serve them with rice and a nice sauce over the top.  Do whatever sounds good to you!! Any leftovers will freeze nicely for several months. Enjoy!!!


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