The Organic Crunchy Chicken Tamale as Served at Joseph's Culinary Pub in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Season 30.
Recipe courtesy of Joseph's Culinary Pub

Fried Organic Chicken Tamales with Red Chile and Cotija

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  • Level: Advanced
  • Total: 6 hr 30 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 2 hr 20 min
  • Yield: 12 servings




Chile Verde:

Fried Chicken Tamale:

Red Chile Sauce:


Special equipment:
8 to 12 corn husks, soaked overnight in water; a steam pot or hotel pan with perforated insert; a deep-fryer
  1. For the chicken: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place chicken on a half-sheet tray. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper, then place skin-side up. Roast until cooked through, about 40 minutes. Let cool. Pull off skin and remove meat from bone. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. For the masa: Put masa in a bowl and add duck fat, plus a fat pinch each of salt and pepper. Mix until integrated. Add 1/2 cup water to help make a smooth, pliable mass, which will be easy to spread. Set aside.
  4. For the chile verde: Place tomatillos, garlic, cilantro, onion, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper in a medium saucepot and add enough water to cover. Place pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until tomatillos are soft and color deepens, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Pull ingredients from water and place in a blender. (Some liquid is fine.) Blend until smooth and season to taste.
  5. Return chile verde to the same saucepan and add the pulled chicken. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  6. For the fried chicken tamale: Place a corn husk in the palm of your hand. It should just cover your hand; trim down if necessary so not overly large. Place a wooden kitchen spoonful of masa (approximately 6 tablespoons) in center of husk. Smooth masa to the edges of the husk using back of spoon. Place 4 tablespoons chicken chile verde mixture in middle of masa. Put tamale on a counter and fold in both long sides, then tuck in bottom and top of husk to form a neat package. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  7. Using a steam pot or hotel pan with perforated insert, fill pot with water to bottom of perforated insert. Place a layer of tamales in the insert, being careful not to crowd or stack them. Cover pot with a lid or aluminum foil. Allow the pan to steam over medium-high heat and cook tamales for about 35 minutes. Let tamales cool.
  8. Warm Red Chile Sauce in a saucepan over medium heat.
  9. Preheat duck fat in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.
  10. Remove husk from a tamale. Place in fryer basket and cook until exterior of tamale is crispy, about 3 minutes. Smear 1 ounce Red Chile Sauce on bottom of a plate. Place tamale in center and garnish with Cotija. Serve hot. Repeat with remaining tamales.

Red Chile Sauce:

  1. Remove stems from chile pods and shake out seeds. Place chiles in a medium saucepan along with garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes. Strain and discard excess water to help remove bitterness. Place remaining contents in a blender and puree until smooth.