Anywho, a dear friend of mine recently mentioned that she would teach me how to make tamales, and not only did they turn out well, we had a ball doing it together. Something special about mamas in the kitchen together, no? Since I can't sit down with all of you and teach you how to do it, this is a good starting point.
Recipe for Crock Pot:
- 7-8 lbs of chicken breasts
- 2 lbs of diced green chile (green chile from Hatch is best, but whatever you can find in the freezer aisle of your grocery will work)
- 2 TBSP salt
- 1-2 TBSP black pepper
- 1TBSP ground cumin
- 1 TBSP minced garlic (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
- 1 large onion- chopped
Instructions: Trim fat from chicken and arrange a single layer in bottom of crock pot. In a blender or Magic Bullet, give the rest of the ingredients a whirl until they are a smooth uniform consistency. Scoop some of the spice/chile mixture over the chicken. Repeat layers until crock pot is full, ending with remaining chile/spice mixture. Cover and cook on high for 8 hours.
Chicken should be super tender and falling apart by then. Shred chicken with two forks, dice it with knives or toss it in your stand mixer and let it shred the chicken for you. Make sure you keep the juice that the chicken cooked in, we will use it later.
Alternatively: you can boil the chicken in this spice/chile mix if you want it accomplished faster
- corn husks- a few bags will do, better to have too many in my opinion since they aren't going to go bad anytime soon
- masa- I used 2 bags of premade masa from the freezer aisle, but if you want to make your own because you don't want to use lard, buy the bagged masa mix and use butter or shortening instead (make a big bowlful, how much you use will be determined by how thick you like your masa spread, how many you make, and the size of the corn husks)
- shredded Mexican blend cheese....or colby jack, or cheddar or whatever you like
Gather your supplies
- large cooking pot with steamer insert
- spreaders (back of a spoon, wide knife, small spatula)
- a tray for the completed tamales
- freezer bags if you're going to freeze some for a later date (good luck with that, by the way)
- Something to cover the table, it gets a bit messy
- a large bowl or one side of your sink to soak the corn husks in
- soak the husks for a few minutes so they are flexible
- mix some of the crock pot liquid into the masa to give it flavor and color (or save it and make chicken and green chile stew)
- get all your supplies to the table and settle in
- spread out a husk, smear masa on the lower half (the wider end)
- put some chicken in a line down the middle
- sprinkle cheese over the chicken
- wrap the side covered in masa over the chicken and cheese in the middle and fold the ends with no masa over the masa/chicken/cheese end
- stack on a platter to wait until either frozen or steamed
DONE! You did it! All that's left is to steam and enjoy!
- Fresh tamales need to steam for about an hour
- Frozen tamales need closer to an hour and a half
Just pile them in the steamer basket (Open end UP so they don't fill with water) put a few inches of water in the bottom of the pot and boil gently with a lid on until masa is cooked and tamales are hot all the way through.
A few notes:
- If you plan to freeze your tamales, freeze them raw as the masa texture is better that way
- These go FAST! At least they did at my house. Yes, I have teen-aged boys and Hercules, but I made 7 dozen and 6 dozen were gone in just a few short days. (I've hidden the last dozen so they can't steal them, HA)
- Once they are steamed, they heat rather nicely in the microwave, so my family liked for me to steam more than needed for the evening meal, and then they would snag 2-3 on their way out the door each day for snacks.
- This is seriously labor intensive if you're doing it alone, so I recommend a tamale making party. Two friends helped me with the smearing and rolling and it took well over an hour to make the 7 dozen. SO...our next plan is to meet again, and each woman bring a different kind of meat/cheese combo, we will all work together and then trade some of each kind before we go home.
And there you have it. Tamales are simple and I found them to be rather forgiving to this newbie. My family is already raving for more, so it looks like I'll be having another tamale-making party in the very near future. Let me know how yours turn out!