In celebration of Cinco De Mayo, I decided to make tamales. In Denver, there are many authentic Mexican restaurants serving delicious tamales. However, traditional recipes usually call for lard, oil and fatty meats such as beef or pork. As usual, I thought of lighter alternatives and substituted olive oil instead of lard, and chicken instead of pork. They turned out tasting wonderful!
Because tamales are a time consuming dish to make, I recommend making the filling and soaking the corn husks one day ahead. In order to obtain a tender shredded chicken, four hours of cooking in a slow cooker is recommended.
Yield: 24 tamales
1 package dried corn husks (about 27)
- 1 lb. chicken breasts or thighs
- 2 1/2 cups roasted green chiles
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 3 cups masa harina flour
- 1/2 cup baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt (omit if masa flour already contains salt)
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup olive oil
In a medium bowl, stir together roasted green chiles, onion and garlic. Place chicken in the bottom of a crock pot. Cover chicken with chile, garlic and onion mixture. Cook on high for four hours. When done, shred chicken and stir in cheese. Set aside. If making one day ahead, cover and store in refrigerator.
Place corn husks in a large bowl or container filled with water. Make sure the corn husks are completely submerged (you can weigh them down with a heavy plate or mug) and let soak for at least three hours. After soaking, take 3 corn husks and tear them into thin strips (about 24). These strips will be used to tie the tamales. Pat corn husks dry.
Using an electric mixer, blend the masa flour, baking powder, salt, chicken broth and olive oil until well combined.
1. Spread about 3 tablespoons of dough out evenly onto a corn husk.
2. Place 1-2 tablespoons of filling in a line along the center of the dough.
3. Fold both sides of the corn husk toward the center, and make sure it overlaps.
4. Fold the bottom of the corn husk up. Tie a thin corn husk strip around the center of the tamale to keep it closed. Use a double-knot to ensure a tight seal.
Place tamales upright (folded side down) in a steamer basket. Add water below the basket. Bring water to a boil, and reduce heat. Cover and steam for about 40 minutes, adding water when needed. The tamales are done when the dough feels firm and easily peels away from the husks.
Enjoy your hot tamales!