Tamales are my absolute favourite Mexican food and something that I rarely if ever see up here in Northern Canada. I crave them more often than my once a year tamale gorge fest disguised as a vacation down south so I found a great Rick Bayless recipe and have been making my own for Cinco de Mayo, Christmas and other special occasions like Tuesdays
They are a bit time consuming and a helper or two will make your tamale day go way faster! Here are the ingredients you'll need:wrappers
1-8 oz pkg of dried corn husks (I found some at Trader Joe's last time I was in the states) or you can use squares of tin foil which will do the trick. If using corn husks you will also need some kitchen string cut in 8-10 inch lengths to tie them shut.Filling
4 cups of shredded chicken (I use a rotisserie chicken)
2 small cans of chopped green chilis
1 bottle of green Mexican sauce (tomatillo)
2/3 cup rough chopped fresh cilantro
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and rough chopped
salt to taste
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons of oil
1/2 cup Crisco vegetable shortening. If you want to go authentic use pork lard
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups dried masa harina mixed with 2 1/4 cups of hot water
1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken brothPrepare the corn husks
First of all you need to cover the corn husks with very hot water in a big pot, weigh down with a plate to keep them submerged. Let them soak a couple of hours to soften up and become pliable.Prepare the filling:
Puree the chopped green chilis and the garlic cloves in a food processor until smooth. Add in the jar of green sauce, process till it is a smooth sauce again. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium high. When its hot, add the puree all at once and stir until it looks thicker and darker, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups of chicken broth and simmer over medium heat until thick enough to coat a spoon, at least 10 minutes. Taste and season highly with salt, around 2 teaspoons. The filling will balance out the blandness of the masa dough so you can add a lot of taste to it. Stir in the chicken and cilantro and cool completely.Prepare the batter/dough
A kitchen aid mixer is invaluable for this step!
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the shortening with 2 teaspoons salt and the baking powder until light in texture, around a minute. Continue beating as you add the reconstituted masa in 3 additions. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add 1 cup of chicken broth. Continue beating, check the dough after a couple of minutes - a 1/2 teaspoon dollop of batter should float in a cup of cold water. If it doesn't float yet, beat another minute and check again. Then 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 on a spoon and be more like a thick, soft paste. Taste and add a bit more salt if you want. Make the tamales!
First pick out 24-30 of the largest and most pliable husks-that are at least 6 inches across on the wider end and 6-7 inches long. If you can't find enough good ones you can overlap a couple to make a larger surface. Pat the husks dry on a clean kitchen towel. I set up area on my kitchen table with husks, pre cut strings, filling and masa dough and a tray for the finished tamales.
Spread about 1/4 cup of the batter into about a 4 inch square on the corn husk leaving at least a 1 1/2 inch border of open husk around it. Place it a little closer to the wide top of the husk. Then put about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the filling down the center of the batter.
Pick up the 2 long sides of the cornhusk and bring them together in a rolling motion so the batter meets and wraps around the filling. Try and make sure all the filling is enclosed so it doesn't leak out while steaming. You can fix any little open spots with a spoon and a bit of batter but I warn you, tamale batter is sticky so you don't want to fool too much with it.
Then fold each side over the filling and fold up the bottom 1 1/2 inch empty section (the skinnier pointy part) and use a piece of string to tie shut. You should have a fairly tightly closed little tamale package with an open top (be careful not to squish the filling out of the top though-there should be an inch or so of open space) Don't tie the tamales too tightly as they will need a bit of room to expand.Set up your steamer
I don't have a giant tamale steamer so I use my big stock pot with a round wire rack set on a smaller steamer insert (you could use custard cups or sturdy coffee cups. I like something metal personally, but the steam does need to go through whatever you choose) I line the pot with some of the leftover corn husks, leaving a few tiny spaces between them so the steam water doesn't pool under the tamales.Steam those tamales!
Stand the tamales on their folded bottoms in the prepared steamer. I use small rolls of tin foil to both help keep them upright as well as separate them a bit. Cover the tamales with another layer of leftover corn husks then put the lid on. Steam over a constant medium heat for about 1 1/4 hours-depending on the size of tamales you make. Giant tamales can take up to 4 hours to steam. Watch carefully that all the water doesn't boil away, I add boiling water from my kettle as necessary. You can tell that the tamales are done when the husk peels away from the masa easily. If it still is sticking, steam a little longer.
Once they are done, let them stand in the steamer off the heat for a few minutes to firm up. Then crack open a cerveza, unwrap your tamales and serve with more green sauce. Try and share with worthy people