Tamales are found in Latin American cuisine. The portable and convenient dish is usually made by stuffing a dough called masa with seasoned chicken, beef or pork, sometimes along with vegetables, hot chili peppers, or cheese and steaming the wraps in corn husks. They are simple to prepare at home. Tamales are typically made with lard or vegetable shortening, but it is possible to reduce the fat content by making tamales with oil.
Things You'll Need
6 cups masa mix
6 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 bag of corn husks
30 oz. green tomatillo sauce
1 cup corn oil (substitute vegetable oil if desired)
2 rotisserie chickens (optional; substitute 1 1/2 lbs of beef shoulder roast or 1 lb of cooked pork butt if desired)
Set aside your corn husks in a large bowl of warm water to soften. This process should take about two hours. Use an electric mixer to blend your masa flour together with the corn oil, baking powder, salt and chicken broth until it is smooth and consistent. It should quickly turn into a thick paste as you blend. Remove the corn husks from the water when they are soft and pliable, but be gentle while handling them.
Shred your prepared chicken onto small pieces, and marinate it in the tomatillo sauce. If you are using pork or beef instead, make sure it is tender, juicy and easy to separate using your fingers. Add seasonings like cumin, fresh garlic and black pepper to season the meat before you soak it in the marinade.
Spread the masa in an even layer over the softened corn husks. Leave the top third of each husk empty to allow room for folding; leave one third of vertical space on either side empty of masa as well. Add 1 tbsp. of your marinated meat on top of each layer of masa, in the middle of the dough.
Fold the corn husks to create the tamales. Roll the filled corn husks like burritos, tucking the empty flaps of corn husk underneath and laying them flat as you go along. Make sure to fold the husks vertically and horizontally, creating fully enclosed tamales with no masa or meat leaking out.
Steam the tamales in a large steamer, consisting of boiling water below a steamer rack. This recipe yields 25 tamales which will take 35 to 40 minutes to cook thoroughly. Check on the tamales every 20 minutes or so; they are ready when the cooked masa separates from the corn husk easily.