Recipe courtesy of Gretty Lagos

Smoked Cheddar Cheese Tamales

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr
  • Prep: 1 hr 5 min
  • Cook: 55 min
  • Yield: 36 tamales
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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 

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


  1. Put the corn husks in a roasting pan of warm water; soak until softened, about 30 minutes. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. 
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