Smoked Cheddar Cheese Tamales

Total Time:
2 hr
1 hr 5 min
55 min

36 tamales

  • 40 dried corn husks (about 5 ounces)
  • 4 cups masa harina (corn flour)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, warmed
  • 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening, melted
  • 6 poblano chile peppers
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound smoked cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 pound Vermont white cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon grated lime zest
  • Put the corn husks in a roasting pan of warm water; soak until softened, about 30 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, prepare the dough: Whisk the masa harina, baking soda and sea salt in a large bowl. Stir in the chicken broth and lard with a wooden spoon to make a thick dough. (If it seems dry, add a splash of broth.) Let the dough rest 30 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Put the poblanos on a foil-lined broiler pan; broil, turning, until charred, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside 10 minutes. Peel off the skins, then stem, seed and dice the peppers.

  • Heat the butter and vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and scallions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the poblanos, tomatoes and vinegar, season with kosher salt and pepper, and cook 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Fold in both cheeses.

  • Remove the corn husks from the water and gently squeeze dry. Tear 4 husks into thin strips to use as ties. Spread a heaping tablespoonful of dough onto the wide end of each remaining husk, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the top and both sides and 3 inches on the tapered end. Spread 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture over the dough, then roll up the tamale into a cigar shape. Fold up the tapered end and tie closed with a strip of husk.

  • Put the tamales upright in a steamer basket set over a few inches of boiling water; steam until the filling is firm, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the tamales and let rest 10 minutes.

  • Mix the sour cream and lime zest in a small bowl and season with kosher salt. Unwrap the tamales and serve with the lime sour cream.

  • Photograph by Jacob Snavely

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    This recipe is featured in:

    Cinco de Mayo