Cheesy-Chicken Tamales

Total Time:
3 hr
Prep:
1 hr
Cook:
2 hr

Yield:
Approximately 18 tamales

Ingredients
  • 4 -ounces dried cornhusks (about 20 husks)
  • 2/3 cup quick cooking or old-fashioned grits (not instant)
  • 11/4 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup masa harina
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken meat
  • 1/2 pound Monterey Jack or mild cheddar, coarsely grated
  • 4 poblano chilies, roasted, seeded, peeled and coarsely chopped
Directions

In a saucepan place the dried cornhusks, add enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Top the husks with a heavy plate or bowl to keep submerged, and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and steep until soft and pliable, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Drain, remove any corn silk and pat dry before assembling tamales.

For the masa: In the bowl of a food processor, process the grits for 1 minute. In a small saucepan bring 1 1/4 cups of the chicken stock to a low boil. Transfer the grits to a bowl and add the hot chicken stock. Let stand uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes. Add the masa harina and cumin, and mix until evenly combined. Cool to room temperature before proceeding.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the lard until smooth, light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Stir in half of the masa mixture and whip until well-blended. Add remaining masa mixture, little by little, until mixture resembles a thick cake batter, adding chicken stock if needed. Add the baking powder and add salt, to taste, and whip for 1 to 2 minutes until well incorporated and smooth.

Lay 1 cornhusk on a work surface with the narrow end closest to you. Top with a second corn husk so that the fat ends are in the middle and narrow ends out. Spoon 1/4 cup of the masa batter into the center where the husks join and with the back of a spoon, spread it into a 4-inch square. Place about 1 generous tablespoon each of the chicken, grated cheese and chopped poblano in the center of the masa square.

Fold 1 side of the cornhusk over the filling, pulling it tight and tucking it under the filling. Fold the other side over the filling, and then the top and bottom ends. With a piece of kitchen string or a thin strip of leftover corn husk, tie the tamale together loosely so that it resembles an oblong rectangular package. Repeat with the remaining corn husks and filling.

Once the tamales are assembled, line a steamer basket with any remaining cornhusks and layer the tamales inside the steamer basket, leaving enough room for the tamales to expand slightly while cooking. Cover tamales with another remaining cornhusk, cover steamer with a tight fitting lid and steam for 1 1/2 hours, or until tender and tamale easily pulls away from cornhusk. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.


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