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A PatiJinich.com Recipe

Corn, Cheese and Chile Verde Tamales

Tamal de Elote con Rajas y Queso

Recipe Yield

15 tamales


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

To Prepare

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 2x3-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.