Tamales

Corn, Cheese and Chile Verde Tamales

Corn, Cheese and Chile Verde Tamales
Print Recipe
3.84 from 6 votes

Corn, Cheese and Chile Verde Tamales

Corn, Cheese and Chile Verde Tamales recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 9, Episode 10 "Sabores Norteños"
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 40 mins
Course: Antojos, Main Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: anaheim chiles, cheese, chile verde, Corn, corn husks, elote, masa, Mexico, pati’s mexican table, poblanos, queso, rajas, Sonora, Sonoran, tamal, Tamales
Servings: 15 tamales
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

For the fresh corn masa:

  • 4 cups white corn kernels fresh or thawed frozen
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup corn flour for tamales or masa harina
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

For the filling:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup slivered white onion
  • 1 pound fresh Anaheim chiles roasted, sweated, peeled, stemmed, seeded and cleaned, sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

To assemble the tamales:

  • 30 dried corn husks plus more for lining the steamer
  • 1 1/2 cups grated melting cheese such as asadero, quesadilla, Oaxaca, Monterey Jack, or mozzarella

Instructions

To make the fresh corn masa:

  • Coarsely puree the corn kernels along with the evaporated milk in a food processor or blender. The mixture should be a bit chunky, not completely smooth.
  • Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat at medium speed until very soft and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beaters.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the masa harina, the baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternate adding the ground corn mixture with the masa harina mixture. Once all is incorporated, add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, increase the speed to medium and continue beating until completely amalgamated, creamy and fluffy, about 7 to 8 more minutes.

To make the filling:

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the sliced roasted Anaheim chiles, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are very soft and all of the flavors have combined. Remove from the heat and scrape into a bowl.

To assemble the tamales:

  • Remove about 30 good size corn husks from the package and place in a large bowl of hot water. Soak for a couple of minutes, or until they are pliable, and drain. One by one, lay out a corn husk with the tapering end towards you. If the husks seem thin, layer a second corn husk on top. Leaving a 1 to 1 1/2-inch space at the bottom, a minimum of 1/2 inch space on the sides and a little more than that at the top, spread about 1/4 cup masa into an approximately 2×3-inch rectangle. The masa layer will be a little thicker than 1/4 inch. Place a very generous tablespoon of the Anaheim and onion filling along with a very generous tablespoon of the grated cheese lengthwise down the middle of the masa.
  • Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together (you will see how the masa swaddles the filling) and fold the joined edges to one side, rolling them around the tamal. Fold up the empty tapering end, from the bottom up. This will form a closed bottom and the top will be left open. If the tamale won’t hold, you can tear strips from unused tamale wrappers and tie them around the bottom. Gently press from the bottom to the top to even the filling out, without squeezing too hard.
  • If not steaming right away, place on a plate or sheet pan, cover with plastic, and refrigerate. You can assemble them a day ahead of steaming. You can also steam them ahead and reheat (see below).
  • To prepare the tamalera or steamer: Place water in the bottom pan of a steamer, so that water is under the steamer basket or rack, and bring it to a simmer. If you want to be reassured that the water hasn’t all evaporated during the long steaming time, place a penny in it so you can hear it dancing around. Line the steamer with one or two layers of soaked corn husks.

To cook the tamales:

  • When you have all tamales ready, place them as vertically as you can in the prepared steamer with the open end on top. If there is space left in the steamer, tuck in some corn husks, so the tamales won’t dance around. Cover with more corn husks, cover tightly with a lid, and steam covered for 1 1/2 hours. Allow the finished tamales to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. You know the tamales are ready when they come away easily from the husks. They will still be moist, and as they are released from the husks, you will see the moisture, like when you remove good moist muffins from their paper baking cups.
  • Finished tamales will stay warm for about 2 hours in the steamer. They can be made ahead and stored for several days in the refrigerator, well wrapped. They can also be frozen for months. In either case, reheat in a steamer. For refrigerated tamales, it will take about 20 minutes and about 45 minutes for frozen tamales.

Notes

Tamal de Elote con Rajas y Queso

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamales

Just when you think you completely understand something, life proves you wrong. Does that happen to you? It happens to me all the time, especially when it comes to food.

A cuisine as rich and diverse as Mexico’s needs for us to make an effort to preserve what has been passed on. But, you also have to keep an open mind to new ideas that may in turn become classics.

In that sense, I find the kitchen to be one of the most humbling places because food is always growing and evolving and taking you along, if you let it. You get to constantly learn, apply what you learn, share it, and then start all over again.

Take tamales for example. I have made countless kinds from all regions of Mexico and from different historical times. I have wrapped them in dried and fresh corn husks, banana leaves, hoja santa leaves…practically any and every edible leaf I know of in Mexico. I have learned to make them with raw masa, with masa colada, with rice flour masa, with normal wheat flour masa and even with no masa! I have done savory and sweet, with fillings that range from picadillo to marzipan and beyond. You name it, I have probably tried it.

I thought I had the tamales from the city of Oaxaca nailed down. Then, a few months ago, as we were filming Season 6 of Pati’s Mexican Table there, I was amazed to try a new tamal at Criollo, Chef Luis Arellano’s new restaurant. Its masa was made with pumpkin and filled with sweet refried beans laced with piloncillo. The only way to describe it is brilliant!

Back in my kitchen, I was inspired by the possibility of not only flavoring the masa, but enriching it with a starchy vegetable to lend taste, consistency and color. I came up with this sweet potato tamal filled with savory refried beans.

When the time came to test and play around with it, I was reminded of how important it is to appreciate the lessons that have stood the test of time. In the case of tamales: to review our technique for steaming, for assembling, for achieving a good masa. So we can still call our new creation something worthy of the name TAMAL.

Given the addition of the starchy sweet potatoes, I ended up having to test the idea quite a few times to achieve a very fluffy, yet tasty masa.

In the end, I am very happy with this one! The masa is puffy and moist, and its barely sweet flavor contrasts nicely with the savory, earthy taste of the refried beans. I also took the liberty of drizzling them with crema and topping with salty queso fresco.

And, because my friends from FUD USA and I want to hear what your favorite tamales are, and mostly, we want you to be able to make them for the holidays, we’re giving away 5 tamaleras and each with a copy of my cookbook. Are you in? Go right here to enter.

Pati Jinich sweet potato black bean tamales
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamales

I thought I had the tamales from the city of Oaxaca nailed down. Then, a few months ago, as we were filming Season 6 of Pati’s Mexican Table there, I was amazed to try a new tamal at Criollo, Chef Luis Arellano’s new restaurant. Its masa was made with pumpkin and filled with sweet refried beans laced with piloncillo. The only way to describe it is brilliant! Back in my kitchen, I was inspired by the possibility of not only flavoring the masa, but enriching it with a starchy vegetable to lend taste, consistency and color. I came up with this sweet potato tamal filled with savory refried beans.
Prep Time1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Total Time2 hrs 25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: black beans, pati's mexican table, queso fresco, sweet potato, Tamales
Servings: 12 tamales
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups corn masa flour or masa harina (such as Maseca)
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 24 dried corn husks
  • 2 cups refried beans
  • 1 cup Mexican crema
  • 1 cup queso fresco crumbled

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wrap the sweet potatoes in aluminum foil. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until completely cooked and soft. Remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, cut open and scoop out the cooked pulp into a bowl. Set aside to cool.

To make the tamal masa:

  • Place the lard or vegetable shortening and 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a mixer, and beat over medium speed until very light, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low, add baking powder and sugar, and take turns adding the corn masa flour and the broth. Raise speed back to medium and continue beating another 6 to 7 minutes, until the dough is homogeneous. In batches, add the cooled sweet potato pulp and continue beating for another 5 to 6 minutes, until the masa looks fluffed up.

To assemble the tamales:

  • Soak the dried corn husks in hot water for a couple minutes, or until they are pliable, and drain. Lay out a corn husk with the tapering end towards you. Spread about 1/3 cup masa into about a 2” to 3” square, the layer should be about 1/4” thick, leaving a border of at least 1/2” on the sides. Place about 2 teaspoons of refried beans in the middle of the masa square.
  • Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together (you will see how the masa starts to swaddle the filling) and fold them to one side, rolling them in same direction around tamal. Fold up the empty section of the husk with the tapering end, from the bottom up. This will form a closed bottom and the top will be left open. Gently squeeze from the bottom to the top to even the filling out without pressing to hard. As you assemble all the tamales, place them as upright as you can in a container.

To prepare the tamalera or steamer:

  • Place water in the bottom pan of a steamer, so that water is under the steamer basket or rack, and bring it to a simmer. Line the steamer with one or two layers of soaked corn husks.

To cook the tamales:

  • When you have all tamales ready, place them as vertically as you can, into the prepared steamer with the open end on top. If there is space left in the steamer, tuck in some corn husks, so the tamales won’t dance around. Cover with more corn husks, and steam covered with a lid for 55 minutes to an hour. You know the tamales are ready when they come easily free from the husks. They will still be moist, and as they are released from the husks – you will see the moisture, like when you remove good moist muffins from their paper baking cups.
  • Finished tamales will stay warm for about 2 hours in the steamer. They can be made ahead several days before and stored in refrigerator, well wrapped. They can also be frozen for months. In either case, reheat in a steamer. For refrigerated tamales, it will take about 20 minutes and about 45 minutes for frozen tamales.
  • You can serve with a spoonful of Mexican crema and crumbled queso fresco on top.

Notes

Tamales de Camote con Frijol

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamales

Pati Jinich sweet potato and black bean tamales
Print Recipe
4 from 6 votes

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamales

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamales recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 6, Episode 2 "History of Oaxaca Cuisine"
Prep Time1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Total Time2 hrs 25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: masa, mexican crema, pati's mexican table, sweet potato, Tamales
Servings: 12 to 16 tamales
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups corn masa flour or masa harina (such as Maseca)
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 24 dried corn husks
  • 2 cups refried beans
  • 1 cup Mexican crema
  • 1 cup queso fresco crumbled

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wrap the sweet potatoes in aluminum foil. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until completely cooked and soft. Remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, cut open and scoop out the cooked pulp into a bowl. Set aside to cool.

To make the tamal masa:

  • Place the lard or vegetable shortening and 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a mixer, and beat over medium speed until very light, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low, add baking powder and sugar, and take turns adding the corn masa flour and the broth. Raise speed back to medium and continue beating another 6 to 7 minutes, until the dough is homogeneous. In batches, add the cooled sweet potato pulp and continue beating for another 5 to 6 minutes, until the masa looks fluffed up.

To assemble the tamales:

  • Soak the dried corn husks in hot water for a couple minutes, or until they are pliable, and drain. Lay out a corn husk with the tapering end towards you. Spread about 1/3 cup masa into about a 2” to 3” square, the layer should be about 1/4” thick, leaving a border of at least 1/2” on the sides. Place about 2 teaspoons of refried beans in the middle of the masa square.
  • Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together (you will see how the masa starts to swaddle the filling) and fold them to one side, rolling them in same direction around tamal. Fold up the empty section of the husk with the tapering end, from the bottom up. This will form a closed bottom and the top will be left open. Gently squeeze from the bottom to the top to even the filling out without pressing to hard. As you assemble all the tamales, place them as upright as you can in a container.

To prepare the tamalera or steamer:

  • Place water in the bottom pan of a steamer, so that water is under the steamer basket or rack, and bring it to a simmer. Line the steamer with one or two layers of soaked corn husks.

To cook the tamales:

  • When you have all tamales ready, place them as vertically as you can, into the prepared steamer with the open end on top. If there is space left in the steamer, tuck in some corn husks, so the tamales won’t dance around. Cover with more corn husks, and steam covered with a lid for 55 minutes to an hour. You know the tamales are ready when they come easily free from the husks. They will still be moist, and as they are released from the husks – you will see the moisture, like when you remove good moist muffins from their paper baking cups.
  • Finished tamales will stay warm for about 2 hours in the steamer. They can be made ahead several days before and stored in refrigerator, well wrapped. They can also be frozen for months. In either case, reheat in a steamer. For refrigerated tamales, it will take about 20 minutes and about 45 minutes for frozen tamales.
  • You can serve with a spoonful of Mexican crema and crumbled queso fresco on top.

Notes

Tamales de Camote con Frijol

Tamales Coloraditos

Tamales are practically required on so many December holidays. Take Posadas. And Christmas. Not to mention New Year’s. Wait, of course, that spills over to January with Día de Reyes. Then it continues in February for Día de la Candelaria

There’s also any morning after a big Mexican wedding… and all Mexican weddings are big! I could go on with every month of the year, but tamales are especially craved in December.

Of course, tamales are also everyday food for Mexicans. All sorts of tamales are found daily in lots of places, from markets, to food stands, to restaurants. Why then, if they can be eaten everyday, is there that crucial need for having tamales in December?

Well, I do not know. But what I can say is that I can eat tamales every day of the year and then feel the desperate need to have them for Christmas. To the point that it can be a pretty sad Christmas if tamales aren’t there.

Since the tamal love is spreading beyond Mexico, let me give you the recipe for a tamal I am pretty sure you haven’t tried. Unless you are Norteño, from the Mexican north.

The tamal coloradito, which translates to “infused with color,” takes its name from the filling of meat cooked in a mole sauce by the same name, coloradito. It has an intense color and a deep, rich, complex taste. It is made with ancho and guajillo chiles, tomatoes, onion, garlic, cinnamon, cumin and cloves. Then it coats the meat and simmers with olives, almonds and raisins, resulting in a teasingly sweet/spicy, savory and crunchy mix. The full-blown exotic flavors of the filling contrast beautifully with the mild, fluffy tamal dough.

It seems to me that this tamal is particularly festive because, aside from tamales screaming out for celebration on their own, even with no filling, this one is filled with quite a stunner of a mole sauce. And moles are cause for celebration, too! Pair the two into one bite, and you have a happy crowd.

tamales coloraditos
Print Recipe
4.6 from 5 votes

Tamales Coloraditos

The tamal coloradito, which translates to "infused with color," takes its name from the filling of meat cooked in a mole sauce by the same name, coloradito. It has an intense color and a deep, rich, complex taste. It is made with ancho and guajillo chiles, tomatoes, onion, garlic, cinnamon, cumin and cloves. Then it coats the meat and simmers with olives, almonds and raisins, resulting in a teasingly sweet/spicy, savory and crunchy mix. The full-blown exotic flavors of the filling contrast beautifully with the mild, fluffy tamal dough.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr 50 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Ancho, Coloraditos, Guajillo, Mole, pork, Tamales, Tomato, Tomatoes
Servings: 25 tamales
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

For the tamal dough or masa:

  • 1 cup lard vegetable shortening, or seasoned oil*
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste
  • 3 1/2 cups homemade chicken broth or store bought, divided, more as needed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pound (about 3 1/4 cups) instant corn masa flour preferably for tamales

For the filling:

  • 3 guajillo chiles stemmed, halved and seeded
  • 3 ancho chiles stemmed, halved and seeded
  • 1 ripe Roma tomato
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano preferably Mexican
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ceylon cinnamon or canela
  • Pinch cumin
  • 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup white onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin diced **
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade chicken broth or store bought
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup manzanilla olives stuffed with pimientos chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 25 dried corn husks

Instructions

To make the tamal dough or masa:

  • Place the lard or vegetable shortening in a mixer and beat until very light, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and a tablespoon of the broth and continue to beat until it is white and fluffy, about 2 more minutes. Add the baking powder and beat in, then take turns adding the instant corn masa and the broth in 3 or 4 additions. Continue beating for about 10 minutes at medium speed, until the dough is homogeneous and very fluffy and aerated.
  • To test to see if the tamal masa is ready, drop 1/2 teaspoon into a cup of cold water. It should float. If it does not, beat for an additional 4 or 5 minutes and do the test again.

To make the filling:

  • Heat a comal or skillet over medium heat and toast the guajillo and ancho chiles for about 1 minute, flipping them over a few times, until they become more pliable, lightly toasted, fragrant and their inner skin turns opaque. Transfer to a medium saucepan. Add the tomato, cover with water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the tomato is very soft and the chiles are fully hydrated, plumped up and soft.
  • Place the chiles, tomato and 1/2 cup of the chile simmering water in a blender jar. Add the oregano, whole cloves, cinnamon, cumin and vinegar, and puree until smooth.
  • Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large, deep skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and the edges begin to brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the meat, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium, pour the chile puree over the meat, and stir in the broth. Add the raisins, almonds, olives and brown sugar, stir together, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture should cook down and have the consistency of chile con carne.

To assemble the tamales:

  • Soak the dried corn husks in hot water for a couple minutes, or until they are pliable, and drain. Lay out a corn husk with the tapering end towards you. Spread about 3 tablespoons of masa into about a 2 to 3-inch square, the layer should be about 1/4-inch thick, leaving a border of at least 1/2-inch on the sides. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of the masa square.
  • Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together (you will see how the masa starts to swaddle the filling) and fold the folded sides to one side, rolling them in same direction around tamal. Fold up the empty section of the husk, with the tapering end, from the bottom up. This will form a closed bottom and the top will be left open.
  • Assemble all the tamales and place them as vertically as you can in a container.

To prepare the tamalera or steamer:

  • Place water in the bottom pan of a steamer (so that water is under the steamer) and bring it to a simmer. Line the steamer with one or two layers of soaked corn husks.

To cook the tamales:

  • When you have all tamales ready, place them, again as vertically as you can, into the prepared steamer with the open end on top. If there is space left in the steamer, tuck in some corn husks, so the tamales won’t dance around. Cover with more corn husks, and steam covered with a lid for 50 minutes to an hour. You know the tamales are ready when they come easily free from the husks. They will still be moist, and as they are released from the husks, you will see the moisture, like when you remove good moist muffins from their paper baking cups.
  • Finished tamales will stay warm for about 2 hours in the steamer. They can be made ahead several days before and stored in refrigerator, well wrapped. They can also be frozen for months. In either case, reheat in a steamer. For refrigerated tamales, it will take about 20 minutes and about 45 minutes for frozen tamales.
  • * Note: To make seasoned oil, in a medium saucepan, heat 1 cup vegetable oil over medium heat, add a thick slice of onion and 4 garlic cloves. Cook for 15 minutes until completely browned. Remove onion and garlic before using the oil.
  • ** Note: You can substitute the pork for any other meat of your choice, you can also combine different kinds of meat, like ground beef and diced pork, like my mother does.

Mini Pibis

Mini Pibis
Print Recipe
4.25 from 4 votes

Mini Pibis

Mini Pibis recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 5, Episode 1 “Chachi’s Champotón Kitchen”
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: achiote paste, banana leaves, chicken, masa, onion, pati's mexican table, Tamales, Tomatoes, Yucatán Peninsula
Servings: 14 to 16 tamales
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups (about 1 pound) corn masa flour for tortillas or tamales (masa harina)
  • 2 3/4 cups chicken broth for masa, plus 1/2 cup for chicken filling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste, divided
  • 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • 3 tablespoons (or 2 ounces) achiote paste
  • 3/4 pound (about 3) ripe Roma tomatoes cut into chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup white onion coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • Banana leaves, fresh or thawed from frozen cut into 15 pieces, 10-inches in length, plus more for covering the steamer

Instructions

To make the masa:

  • In a large bowl, combine the masa flour with 2 3/4 cups chicken broth using your hands, kneading the dough until thoroughly mixed and very smooth, not “grainy.”
  • Put 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a large casserole or pot and set over medium heat. Once it begins to simmer, reduce heat to low and add the masa in batches, working it as you go with the wooden spatula to blend with the water, until it is all incorporated. Add the lard, and work it with the wooden spatula for about 3 to 4 minutes until it is all incorporated and the masa appears “cooked." The masa should smell like cooked corn tortillas and appear to be lightly browning and very thick. Remove from heat.

To make the filling:

  • In a blender, add the remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth, achiote paste, tomatoes, garlic cloves, white onion, oregano, allspice, remaining teaspoon of salt, and black pepper. Puree until completely smooth.
  • Heat the oil in a pot or casserole over medium heat. Once hot, carefully add the puree (because it will splatter) and cook partially covered for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it thickens and darkens. Add the shredded chicken, stir, and continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is very moist but not wet – like a sloppy Joe - and most liquid has been absorbed. Set aside.

To make the tamales:

  • Turn a burner on to low heat. Using tongs, slowly pass each banana-leaf piece over the flame on both sides and set aside (so they will be resilient, malleable and not break).
  • One by one, set each leaf piece on your counter with the shiny, outer side down. Spoon about 1/4 cup of masa into the center and spread to form a rectangle of about 4”x 3”. With the spoon, make a shallow channel down the middle, creating a stripe in the masa. Spoon a couple tablespoons of the seasoned shredded chicken right down the middle. Gently close each tamal by folding the longer sides first and then the sides as if making a flat and tight package, but being careful not to press on the tamal too much.
  • Prepare your tamalera or steamer: Add just enough water to touch the bottom of steaming basket and a coin (it will jump and make noise to let you know if water runs out). Line the steaming basket with a few banana-leaf pieces to gently cover the base. One by one, add the tamales, stacking them as evenly as you can, staggered in the same position as when you made them: laying them flat, with opening side on the top. Once you are done, cover with a few more pieces of banana leaves.
  • Set the steamer uncovered over high heat, once there is a bit of steam coming out and the water starts boiling a few minutes later, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 50 minutes to an hour. The leaves will have changed to a much darker color and will have completely wilted to wrap themselves as a second skin over the tamales, and the tamales should feel firm. Turn off the heat.
  • Let the tamales sit covered for 10 to 15 minutes - so they firm up - or until ready to serve. The tamales can be made ahead of time, and reheated in steamer. They can be refrigerated up to 5 days, or frozen in sealed plastic bags for 6 months, and reheated the same way.

Notes

Tamales Colados de Pollo

Chicken in Green Salsa Tamal

chicken in green salsa tamal
Print Recipe
4.67 from 6 votes

Chicken in Green Salsa Tamal

Chicken in Green Salsa Tamal recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 4, Episode 5 “Tamaliza!”
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: chicken, masa, pati's mexican table, salsa verde, Tamales
Servings: 18 tamales
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

For the tamal dough or masa:

  • 3/4 cup lard, vegetable shortening, or seasoned oil (see note at end of recipe)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cold water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pound (about 3 1/4 cups) instant corn masa flour (masa harina) for tortillas or tamales
  • 3 1/2 cups homemade chicken broth add more if needed

For the filling:

  • 1 batch salsa verde
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken from homemade chicken broth

To assemble the tamales:

  • 25 dried corn husks soaking in hot water

Instructions

To make the tamal dough or masa:

  • Place lard, vegetable shortening or seasoned oil in an electric mixer and beat until very light, about 1 minute. Add salt and 1 teaspoon of cold water and continue beating until it is white and spongy, a couple more minutes. Add the baking powder and then alternate adding the instant corn masa and the chicken broth a little at a time. Continue beating until dough is homogeneous and as fluffy as can get. You know the tamal masa is ready when you can drop 1/2 teaspoon of the masa in a cup of cold water and it floats.

To make the filling:

  • Combine the salsa verde with the cooked shredded chicken.

To assemble the tamales:

  • Soak the dried corn husks in hot water for a couple minutes, or until they are pliable, and drain. Lay out a corn husk with the tapering end towards you. Spread about 3 tablespoons of masa into about a 2 to 3-inch square, the layer should be about 1/4-inch thick, leaving a border of at least 1/2-inch on the sides. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of the masa square.
  • Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together (you will see how the masa starts to swaddle the filling) and fold the folded sides to one side, rolling them in same direction around tamal. Fold up the empty section of the husk, with the tapering end, from the bottom up. This will form a closed bottom and the top will be left open.
  • Assemble all the tamales and place them as vertically as you can in a container.

To prepare the tamalera or steamer:

  • Place water in the bottom pan of a steamer (so that water is under the steamer) and bring it to a simmer. Line the steamer with one or two layers of soaked corn husks.

To cook the tamales:

  • When you have all tamales ready, place them, again as vertically as you can, into the prepared steamer with the open end on top. If there is space left in the steamer, tuck in some corn husks, so the tamales won’t dance around. Cover with more corn husks, and steam covered with a lid for 50 minutes to an hour. You know the tamales are ready when they come easily free from the husks. They will still be moist, and as they are released from the husks, you will see the moisture, like when you remove good moist muffins from their paper baking cups.
  • Finished tamales will stay warm for about 2 hours in the steamer. They can be made ahead several days before and stored in refrigerator, well wrapped. They can also be frozen for months. In either case, reheat in a steamer. For refrigerated tamales, it will take about 20 minutes and about 45 minutes for frozen tamales.
  • Note: To make seasoned oil, in a medium saucepan, heat 1 cup vegetable oil over medium heat, add a thick slice of onion and 4 garlic cloves. Cook for 15 minutes until completely browned. Remove onion and garlic before using the oil.

Notes

Tamales de Pollo con Salsa Verde

Blackberry and Pecan Tamales

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5 from 3 votes

Blackberry and Pecan Tamales

Blackberry and Pecan Tamales recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 1, Episode 13 “Wrapped Treats”
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Dessert, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: blackberry, cinnamon, corn husks, masa, pati's mexican table, pecans, Tamales
Servings: 20 tamales
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 25 dried corn husks
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening or good quality lard
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 lb instant corn masa mix for tamales or about 3 1/4 cups, such as Maseca
  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup pecans roughly chopped
  • 12 oz blackberries rinsed

Instructions

To make masa for tamales:

  • Place the vegetable shortening or lard with 1 tablespoon of cold water in a mixer and beat, until very light and spongy, about 1 minute. Add the baking powder and salt, and then take turns adding the instant corn masa mix and the water. Continue beating until the dough is homogeneous and fluffy.
  • Mix in the sugar and cinnamon and continue beating until everything is well mixed. You may also do it by hand.
  • You know the tamal masa is ready if: 1. When you lift a big spoon with masa, drop it into the dough it falls “de golpe” or heavy. 2. It has the consistency of a medium thick cake batter. 3. If you place 1/2 teaspoon of masa in a cup of cold water and it floats.

To prepare the steamer:

  • Place water in the pan of a steamer and bring it to a simmer. Line the steamer with one or two layers of corn husks. Use the dough to form about 20 corn husk wrapped tamales.

To make tamales:

  • Soak the dried corn husks in hot water for a couple of minutes, until they are pliable and drain. Lay out a corn husk with the tapered ends facing towards you. Spread 3 to 4 tablespoons of the masa into a 2 to 3 inch square, the layer should be about 1/4 inch, leaving a boarder of at least 1/2 inch on the sides. Place 1 to 2 blackberries in the middle of the masa filling and sprinkle about a teaspoon of the pecans on top.
  • Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together, causing the masa to surround the berries and pecans and fold them to one side, rolling them in the same direction around the tamal. Fold up the empty section of the husk with the tapering end, from the bottom up. This will form a closed bottom and the top will be left open.
  • Prepare the tamales and then place them vertically in a container. When you have them all ready, place them as vertically as you can in the prepared steamer, with the open end on top. If there is space left in the steamer, tuck in more corn husks so the tamales will not dance around. Cover with more corn husks and steam, covered for 50 minutes to an hour over medium heat. You know the tamales are ready when the tamales come easily free from the husks.
  • Finished tamales will stay warm for about 1 to 2 hours in the steamer. They can be made ahead several days before and stored in the refrigerator, well wrapped. They can also be frozen for months. In either case, reheat in the steamer. For refrigerated tamales it will take about 15 minutes, and for frozen tamales about 45 minutes.

Notes

Tamales de Zarzamora y Nuez

Uchepos

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4.5 from 6 votes

Uchepos

Uchepos recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 4, Episode 5 “Tamaliza!”
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: cinnamon, Corn, corn meal, masa, mexican crema, queso fresco, rice flour, Sweetened Condensed Milk, Tamales
Servings: 10 to 12 tamales
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 10 large tender ears of corn with fresh corn husks attached
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup corn meal or rice flour more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon ground canela or cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • Fresh corn husks from the ears of corn to make the tamales or dried corn husks
  • Mexican crema optional topping
  • queso fresco optional topping

Instructions

To make the corn dough or masa:

  • Carefully peel the husks from the ears of corn. It helps if you slice 1/4-inch or so from the bottom part of the corn. Place the husks in a large bowl and cover with hot water. (If using dried corn husks, soak in hot water.)
  • Rinse the peeled corn thoroughly. Shave the corn kernels off and place in a food processor or blender along with the sweetened condensed milk. Process until you get as smooth consistency as you can. Incorporate the corn meal or rice flour until you get a moist, but not wet, dough consistency. Season with the cinnamon and salt and mix well.

To prepare the tamalera or steamer:

  • Place water in the bottom pan of a steamer (so that water is under the steamer) and bring it to a simmer. Line the steamer with one or two layers of soaked corn husks.

To assemble the tamales:

  • Lay out a corn husk with the tapering end towards you. If the fresh corn husks are too thin, use 2 or 3 fanned together. Spread about 3 tablespoons of dough or masa into about a 2 to 3-inch square, the layer should be about 1/4-inch thick, leaving a border of at least 1/2-inch on the sides.
  • Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together and fold the folded sides to one side, rolling them in the same direction around tamal. Fold up the empty section of the husk, with the tapering end, from the bottom up. This will form a closed bottom and the top will be left open.
  • Prepare all the tamales and place them as vertically as you can in a container.

To cook tamales:

  • When you have all tamales ready place them, again as vertically as you can, into the prepared steamer, with the open end on top. If there is space left in the steamer, tuck in some cornhusks, so the tamales won’t dance around. Cover with more cornhusks, and steam covered with a lid anywhere from 55 minutes to an hour. You know the tamales are ready when they come easily free from the husks.
  • Serve hot, along with fresh Mexican cream and crumbled queso fresco on the side.

Chicken in Salsa Verde Tamal Casserole

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3 from 6 votes

Chicken in Salsa Verde Tamal Casserole

Chicken in Salsa Verde Tamal Casserole recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 4, Episode 5 “Tamaliza!”
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Total Time1 hr 25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Casserole, chicken, masa, mexican crema, Monterrey Jack cheese, mozzarella, Oaxaca cheese, pati's mexican table, salsa verde
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil to grease the baking dish
  • 1 batch corn dough or masa from my tamal recipe
  • 1 batch salsa verde
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 1/2 cups Mexican crema or Latin-style cream, crème fraiche or sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups (about 10 ounces) grated Oaxaca cheese mozzarella or Monterey Jack

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grease a large baking dish with oil. Spread half of the tamal dough or masa in a single layer over the bottom of the baking dish. Set aside 3/4 cup of salsa verde and combine the rest with the shredded chicken. Spread the chicken and salsa verde mix on top of the masa. Cover with the rest of the masa in a second layer. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven for an hour.
  • Remove from the oven. Carefully remove the aluminum foil and spread on the remaining 3/4 cup of salsa verde. Top with the cream and cheese. Place back in the oven, uncovered, for 10 more minutes, or until the cheese completely melts and begins to brown along the edges. Serve hot, cut into squares.

Notes

Cazuela de Tamal de Pollo en Salsa Verde

My Favorite Tamal of All Time: Chicken in Green Salsa

Tamales are it. If you’ve eaten one, you know it.

Simple. When ready and steaming hot, unwrap the edible bundle and eat swiftly, no fork, no knife, bite by bite.  So good.

Yet as simple as it may sound to write a post about tamales, I could dedicate an entire series of cookbooks to their endless possibilities, and in the end, not have covered them all.

Ancestral, iconic, yet humble, is each single tamal. And the tamal universe, immense, imagine: tamal refers to anything wrapped and cooked in a husk or leave. Usually made with masa, typically corn masa, either mixed with or swaddling ingredients, or both! As you move through Mexico, and increasingly outside, you find them in different shapes (round, square, flat, puffed up, even triangular like Michoacán corundas); with different wraps (corn husks, either fresh or dried, banana leaves and even fresh edible leafy greens like chaya in Chiapas); with an infinity of ingredients, from savory, like chicken, meat, seafood, vegetables, beans, all sort of grains, salsas and cheese…to sweet ingredients, like fresh and dried fruits, nuts, chocolate, cajeta

The consistency and texture vary greatly, too, from thin and dense like tamales found in Oaxaca; to sticky and gelatinous from Yucatán; to spongy and cakey like the ones from northern and central Mexico, where I grew up.

Tamales are so big in our kitchens that entire meals are devoted to them: the famous Tamaladas! Festive get-togethers we all get very excited about, where all you eat are different kinds of tamales, from beginning to end. Trust me, where there is a variety of tamales, you want to eat them all.

Aside from Tamaladas, tamales are present in all sorts of celebrations and holidays including Quinceañeras, Posadas, Christmas Eve and New Years parties: they have been fiesta food since pre-Hispanic times, when they were considered gifts from the Gods.

But tamales are also everyday food, for an entire country, an entire culture. Accessible to everyone and anyone who can get to the corner stand and has 10 pesos (less than a dollar) in their pocket for a quick breakfast, a filling lunch or an easy merienda (light dinner).

See photo below…. I was with my school friends eating tamales at the tamal stand on the street right outside our middle school. I used to day dream about those tamales; they were so alluring we used to sneak out of school to eat them…

Pati eating tamales with her school friends

Tamales are as fascinating and varied as the stars above. So to land this philosophical rambling about tamales somewhere practical and edible, for you, I will focus on my favorite tamal of all time. The Tamal de Pollo con Salsa Verde.

The easiest way to make tamales is to prepare your filling(s) first. In fact you can make it a day or two in advance. For the ones I feature here, make your cooked salsa verde, pictured in the molcajete below. Combine it with cooked shredded chicken to make a wet mix. No, you don’t want it dry! The tamal masa will soak up some of that salsa. After the tamales cook for almost an hour, you want to bite into a tamal that has a saucy, moist filling.

salsa verde

Then get your hands on dried corn husks, pictured below. You can get them in the Latin aisles of your supermarket, at many a Latin or international store, or online. No excuse. Soak those husks in warm water, so they will become malleable and pliable. You don’t want them to crack as you use them to wrap the dough and roll the tamal. You will also need to place some of the leaves in the tamalera or steamer.

Get the tamalera ready. Pour water and drop a coin in there. That’s a passed down trick from endless generations. It works as an alarm for when the tamales may be running out of water, so you won’t need to open up the pot and let all that precious steam come out: if the water is running out, the coin will start jumping up and down and make loud clinking noises.

dried corn husks

Then you work to make your masa. Or let the mixer help you out! I have the complete recipe below, but let me just highlight a few things…

In Mexico, you can go into the tortillería and buy fresh masa, made from scratch. And wouldn’t it be heavenly if there were tortillerías in all towns and cities in the US, so we could all indulge? But the truth is many, if not most, people in Mexican kitchens make their own masa at home from the instant corn masa flour, and you can get fabulous results.

Traditionally, tamal masa is made with lard. If top quality and fresh, it adds a delicious taste and texture and doesn’t have as much cholesterol as people think. If you ask me, I think it is a matter of moderation. Yet, many people prefer vegetable shortening and you can use it too. Now, vegetable shortening has, as of late, been questioned even more than lard.

If you don’t want to use either, I have a wonderful solution: use vegetable oil, substitute exact amounts, but to maintain depth of flavor and dimension, season the oil by heating it over medium heat and cooking a slice of onion and a couple garlic cloves in it for 15 minutes. Then remove the onion and garlic before using. Great trick for vegetarians as well. In fact, before the Spanish arrived to Mexico, and there was no pork, oils extracted from fruits, vegetables and seeds, were used to moisten and season tamales, so feel free to play around with oils you like!

The most important thing about the masa, aside from being well seasoned, is that it needs to be as fluffy as fluffy can get. It has to be so airy that, if you take a cup of cold water and drop half a teaspoon of the masa in it, it floats!  You can only achieve this by beating it for a long time at a good speed. That’s why I recommend a mixer in the recipe below, but of course, you are welcome to get a good work out from the masa mixing by hand or with a sturdy spatula.

Then, follow my detailed instructions below on how to fill and wrap the tamales, place them in the tamalera and hold your horses for 50 minutes until they are ready.

Hopefully, you make more than what you need. I can think of few foods that have as much warmth, sustenance and meaning than tamales. They are food that is meant to be shared. So I suggest you try a Tamalada gathering! Tamaladas don’t only happen on February 2nd (when according to tradition you must host a Tamalada and invite EVERYBODY, if you got the baby hidden in the Rosca de Reyes eaten on January 6th), they can happen anytime (but I am writing this post before February 2nd, just in case!).

Make many fillings ahead of time. Make your masa. Invite friends over and have a tamal-making party before the Tamalada. Everyone will have gifts to open and eat, as that is what tamales are, indeed. And the best gift of them all will be any leftover tamales that a lucky guest gets to take along. Or be a bit greedy, keep them at home.

Note: I’ve been asked for a quick casserole version in a few emails… All you need to do, is spread half the masa in the recipe below in a large baking dish, then add a layer of the chicken in salsa verde, top with remaining half masa dough. Cover well with aluminum foil, and bake in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and if you want, drizzle with some Mexican crema and crumbled queso fresco. Serve in squares.

Print Recipe
4.5 from 4 votes

Chicken in Salsa Verde Tamales

Tamales are it. If you’ve eaten one, you know it. Simple. When ready and steaming hot, unwrap the edible bundle and eat swiftly, no fork, no knife, bite by bite.  So good. Yet as simple as it may sound to write a post about tamales, I could dedicate an entire series of cookbooks to their endless possibilities, and in the end, not have covered them all.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: chicken, masa, pati's mexican table, salsa verde, Tamales, tomatillos
Servings: 18 tamales
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

For the tamales:

  • 25 dried corn husks soaking in warm water
  • 3/4 cup lard, vegetable shortening or seasoned vegetable oil (to make seasoned oil, heat oil over medium heat and cook a slice of onion and 3 to 4 garlic cloves for 15 minutes, strain before using)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cold water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pound (about 3 1/4 cups) instant corn masa for tortillas or tamales
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock add more if needed

For the filling:

  • 1 recipe for cooked salsa verde
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken

Instructions

To make the filling:

  • Make the salsa verde, combine it with the shredded chicken, and set aside or refrigerate, if made ahead of time.

To make masa for the tamales:

  • Place lard, vegetable shortening or seasoned oil in a mixer and beat, until very light, about 1 minute. Add salt and 1 teaspoon cold water, and continue beating until it is white and spongy, a couple more minutes. Add baking powder, and then take turns adding the instant corn masa and the chicken stock. Continue beating until dough is homogeneous and as fluffy as can get.
  • You know the tamal masa is ready if, when you drop 1/2 teaspoon of the masa in a cup of cold water, it floats.

To prepare the tamalera or steamer:

  • Place hot water in the bottom pan of a steamer (only enough so the water is just under the basket with the tamales and not touching them) and bring it to a simmer. Line the steamer basket with one or two layers of soaked corn husks. Use dough to form about 18 cornhusk wrapped tamales.

To make the tamales:

  • Soak dried corn husks in hot water for a couple minutes, or until they are pliable, and drain. Lay out a corn husk with the tapering end towards you. Spread about 3 tablespoons of masa into about a 2- to 3-inch square, the layer should be about 1/4-inch thick, leaving a border of at least 1/2-inch on the sides. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of the masa square.
  • Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together (you will see how the masa starts to swaddle the filling) and fold the folded sides to one side, rolling them on same direction around tamal. Fold up the empty section of the husk with the tapering end, from the bottom up. This will form a closed bottom and the top will be left open.
  • Prepare all the tamales and place them as vertically as you can in a container. When you have them all ready, place them again, as vertically as you can on the prepared steamer, with the open end on top. If there is space left in the steamer, tuck in some corn husks, so the tamales won’t dance around. Cover with more corn husks, and steam covered for 50 minutes to an hour. You know the tamales are ready when they come easily free from the husks. They will still be moist, and as they are released from the husks, you will see the moistness, like when you remove good moist muffins from their paper baking cups.
  • Finished tamales will stay warm for about 1 to 2 hours in the steamer. They can be made ahead several days before and stored in refrigerator, well wrapped. They can also be frozen for months. In either case, reheat in a steamer. For refrigerated tamales, it will take about 15 minutes, and for frozen tamales about 45 minutes.

Notes

Tamales de Pollo con Salsa Verde