Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tamales - Daring Cooks' Challenge

I love tamales, but I've never made them, so I was really excited about the challenge this month!  They really were not difficult to make at all, though they were a bit time consuming.  I made the Green Chile Chicken without any variation (well, except having to use canned tomatillos and parchment because our rural grocery store didn't have fresh tomatillos or corn husks) because I had never made tamales before, but now I can see tons of possible variations.

I opted to bake my chicken instead of boil it, so that I would have some baked chicken left for the picker members of the family to eat, and they prefer baked to boiled.  I just sprinkled salt and pepper on it and baked it.  It takes about 20 minutes per pound.

I just had to show you this because it is so amazing!  See the first picture - that is my chicken in large hunks in my mixer bowl.  The second picture is after about 5 seconds with the mixer on high.  I had no idea you could do this!  This is definitely the easiest and quickest way to shred chicken.

This is the tomatillo/chile sauce before adding the chicken and cilantro.

And here, I have added it but not combined.

This is the masa dough pressed out on the parchment with the filling.

And here is one of the wrapped bundles all tied up and ready to go.

This the full steamer basket ready to cook.

And at last, the finished tamale.

Here is the original recipe as posted by Lis at the Daring Cooks Challenge.  If, like me, you can not find fresh tomatillos, you can skip steps 5 - 7 and use two cans of tomatillos.  Also, I used parchment instead of corn husks.  If you do this, you will need 24 pieces of parchment about 6" square and obviously skip steps 1 and 2.  
Green Chile Chicken Tamales:
1 – 8 ounce (225 gram) package dried corn husks (If you cannot find corn husks, you can use parchment paper or plastic wrap.)
For filling:
1 pound (455 gram) tomatillos (can sub mild green chilies – canned or fresh)
4 – 3 inch (7½ cm) serrano chiles, stemmed and chopped (can sub jalapeno)
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 ½ tablespoons (22½ ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cups (480 ml) low sodium chicken broth
4 cups (960 ml) (400 gm/14 oz) cooked and shredded chicken
2/3 cup (160 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) roughly chopped fresh cilantro (also known as coriander)
For the masa dough:
1 1/3 cups (320 ml) (265 gm/9
oz) lard or vegetable shortening
1 ½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (10 gm/1/3 oz) salt (omit if already in masa mixture)
1 ½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (8 gm/¼ oz) baking powder (omit if already in masa mixture)
4 cups (960 ml) (480 gm/17 oz) masa harina (corn tortilla mix), I used instant masa mix
1 ½-2 cups (360 ml – 480 ml) low sodium chicken broth
1. Place the dried corn husks in a large pot and cover with water.
2. Place a heavy plate or a smaller pot full of water on top of husks to keep them in the water. Let soak for 3 hours or up to 1 day, flipping occasionally until husks are softened.
3. Once husks are softened, boil chicken about 20 minutes or until fully cooked.
4. Immediately place hot chicken into the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Turn mixer on high to shred chicken (this takes about 3-5 seconds).
5. Place an oven rack on the top setting. Turn the oven on broil. Peel and rinse the tomatillos.
6. Line a heavy baking sheet with foil. Place tomatillos on baking sheet and place under broiler.
7. Broil (grill) until black spots form on tomatillos, then flip and broil (grill) other side. This takes about 5-10 minutes per side depending on the strength of the broiler.
8. Place roasted tomatillos and juices from the pan into a food processor and allow to cool about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chopped Serrano chiles and process until smooth.
9. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat.
10. Add the tomatillo puree and boil, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes (it should turn thick like a paste).
11. Add in the chicken broth, stir to mix well. Reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until mixture coats the back of a spoon and is reduced to about a cup (240 ml). 
12. Stir in the chicken and cilantro. Salt to taste.
13. Prepare the dough. In the bowl of an electric mixer, on medium high heat, cream together the lard or vegetable shortening, baking powder and salt.  Mix in the masa harina, one cup (240 ml) at a time.
14. Reduce the mixer speed to low, gradually add in 1 ½ cups (360 ml) of the chicken broth.
15. If the mixture seems too thick (you can taste it for moistness) add up to ½ cup (120 ml) more of the broth 2 tablespoons (30 ml) at a time. (The dough should be a cookie dough like texture).
16. Take 3 large corn husks and tear them into ¼ inch (6 mm) strips. (I would suggest you put these back in the water until use because they dry out and start breaking when you try to work with them.
17. Take a large pot with a steamer attachment. Pour about 2 inches (5 cm) of water into the bottom of the pot, or enough to touch the bottom of the steamer. Line the bottom of the steamer with corn husks.
18. Unfold 2 corn husks onto a work surface. Take ¼ cup (60 ml) of dough and, starting near the top of the husk, press it out into a 4 inch (10 cm) square, leaving 2-3 inches (5 -7½ cm) at the bottom of the husk. Place a heaping tablespoon (15 ml) of the filling in a line down the center of the dough square.
19. Fold the dough into the corn husk.
20. And wrap the husk around the dough.
21. Fold up the skinny bottom part of the husk.
22. And secure it with one of the corn husk ties.
23. Stand them up in the steamer. If there aren’t enough tamales to tightly pack the steamer, place crumpled aluminum foil in the excess space.
24. Steam the tamales for about 40 minutes or until the dough deepens in color and easily pulls away from the husk.



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Tamales - Daring Cooks' Challenge