Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Chicken tamales

I went to Compare Foods on Avondale drive for the first time on Sunday. I've been wanting to try making tamales, but could never find the corn husks. My search is over! Compare was great, not only for latino foods but for everything. I doubt I'll go to Kroger much anymore. Compare was also supercheap!

Make these on a day where you've got lots of time to kill. Though there's not that much active time, they do take several hours to complete.

Chicken tamales

Makes 30 tamales
32 dried corn husks
For the stewed chicken
2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 6 thighs)
1 tsp cumin
1 tb garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used yellow)
1 cup water
2 cubes chicken bouillion

For the tamale dough
4 cups masa
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2tsp garlic powder
1 tb melted butter
4 tsp vegetable or canola oil
2 cups chicken broth or water with 2 cubes chicken bouillion dissolved
1 cup water

Season chicken breasts on both sides with cumin, garlic, chili, salt and pepper. Saute onions for 2 minutes over medium high heat and put in crock pot. Add chicken breasts to saute pan and brow 2 minutes per side. Remove breasts and add to crock pot. Turn heat on saute pan to high and slowly add water to deglaze pan, scraping at the browned bits on bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. Add in bouillion and stir until dissolved. Add liquid to the crock pot, cover and cook on high 3 hours.
While breasts are cooking, place dried corn husks in large with enough water to cover completely. Weigh down with a can or mug to keep the husks submerged. Allow to soak for at least an hour.
After 3 hours, gently remove the breasts from the crock pot with tongs to a medium bowl. Using a fork (or two), shred the breast meat. Add to the bowl 1/2 cup of the juices and onions from the crock pot. Mix well and salt to taste.
Next it's time to make the dough!
Combine the masa flour, salt and spices in a large bowl. Add the butter and oil and mix well. Next add the broth and water and stir until you have a soft dough. Note that I found I had to keep a little water nearby to add to keep the dough moist as I assembled tamales.
Take 2 corn husks and peel lengthwise, 1/4 inch strips that you'll use to tie the tamales close. Next lay a corn husk flat, place about 1/4 cup of dough on the upper 2/3 of the husk (the wide end). Press the dough into a rectangle about 3"x3". Drop about 2 tb of chicken on one side of the dough and spread evenly. Using the husk as a guide, roll the tamale up (like a jelly roll) and make sure the sides of the husk are overlapping. Fold the bottom of the husk up and tie with 1 husk strip to secure.
Here's what it should look like.
Now repeat this 29 times until you've used up all the dough, husks and meat.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Use enough water so that it doesn't all evaporate. Steam the tamales (med-high to high heat) for 50 minutes or until the dough is firm. I had to do this in two batches and I had a makeshift steamer I made using a metal colander, sitting in side of my 8 qt stock pot. I also steamed using chicken bouillion in the water to add more flavor to the dough. I froze most of mine and they'll keep for up to a year in an airtight freezer bag. To re-heat, just steam for 15 minutes!

You can (and I will) serve these with some sort of tomato based chili sauce. I'm serving tomorrow night to some friends and that's when I'll try that out.

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CaptnRachel aka Tha Pizza Cutta said...

I love tamales but never have the wear-with-all to make them. This recipe seems very doable-Thanks!

Katie's blog said...

Those look really good! I think I could make them too.

Jeni said...

You can do it!!! Just allot the process a good amount of time!

mimulus said...

Hi ,
i am from uk . can you tell me what corn husks are ?
thank you

Jeni said...

Absolutely! When you purchase corn on the cob, it is normally surrounded by silky hairs and then layers of corn husk. It has a fibrous texture and you can buy them already dried in Mexican grocery stores. I'm sure you could purchase online too if you're unable to find them locally. Here they are for sale on Amazon.

mimulus said...

Thank you jeni ...
will let you know how i get on ...

One Food Guy said...

I love tamales! The last time I had great tamales was at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market at Corn Maiden - sooooo good!

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