April 29, 2013

You guys, I made TAMALES!!!!!!

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I was so excited to eat these, I BARELY got a picture... 

I kept saying this over and over, "I made tamales!!"  I also told every member of my family that I talked to on the phone, "Guess what? I made tamales!"  I'm easy to please like that.  I think I can check this off my bucket list!  But, don't get me wrong, I will be making these for the rest of my life!! 

I love tamales!!!  Over a decade ago, I helped someone make tamales for my family.  She didn't speak any English, and my mom and I were helping her.   She used shortening, and while mom and I picked every piece of fat off the pork we were using she just reached over and grabbed the pork, fat and all!  Gross!  So, I loved being able to make my own without any fat on the chicken and no lard in the dough part!  I did almost jump ship when I started going through the corn husks to wash and found a super long dark hair and little buggies, etc...  If you know me and my issues, preservering through that is a big deal...  I did throw away quite a few corn husks though.... Now I know never to trust someone else to make these because what if they didn't wash them good enough!?!?!  Yeah, I have issues.  Mine got washed a few times... 

I read lots of recipes to see how to make these and roll these, etc.  I had to be a little creative with making them because I don't have a steamer that goes inside a pot (must get one!!!), so you can see my pictures below.  I did change from the original recipe a tiny little bit, so the recipe below has my changes.  I'm no expert, so don't judge me if I'm not doing a part that is authentic or something, but this worked for me. 

This is a time intensive meal, but worth it!  You could also make the chicken part ahead of time and let it sit in your fridge until you are ready to use it, to cut back on your meal preparation for one day. 

Something that made me love tamales even more??  My kids loved them too!!!

Healthier Chicken Tamales
Recipe from HERE

  • 18 corn husks (I actually used a lot more than this.... but I didn't count...sorry.)
  • 3 1/2 cups boiled and shredded chicken
  • 1/3 onion (finely chopped)
Filling Sauce
  • 1 1/3 cup water (from boiling the chicken)
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 4 Tablespoons Taco seasoning
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 Tablespoon cold water
  • 4 cups masa (no salt added)
  • 6 teaspoons canola oil
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Before starting, (I washed my corn husks first!!!!! then did the next part)  place your corn husks in water and allow them to soak for at least 2 hours, but a lot of recipes I looked up had them soak overnight. Once they are completely soaked and pliable, completely rinse them (again...). 
  1. Cook enough chicken breasts (It took 2-3 large breasts) to render 3 1/2 cups of shredded chicken. (You can shred it with a fork, or chop it in a food processor for smaller pieces).
  2. Add in the finely chopped onion and mix well.
Filling Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, put the 1 cup of water from the boiled chicken, the bouillon, lime juice and the taco seasoning together and stir over a low heat.
  2. Dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water, then add that to the saucepan and stir until it thickens to the consistency you want. Note: It needs to be thick enough to make a thin gravy to mix with the chicken.
  3. Pour the sauce together with the shredded chicken and thoroughly mix. Set this aside.
  1. Mix the masa, garlic powder, and salt together. Add in the canola oil and mix completely. Note: This will still be very dry.
  2. Mix the hot water in 1 cup at a time. Mix by hand. It should end up as a very moldable and pliable consistency. (I think ours may have been a little wet, but it still worked...)
Assembling the Tamales
  1. Rather than trying to explain in words how to spread the masa, fill it, and roll it.  (Pictures below)
  2. Wax paper will work well as the sheet for laying over the masa. Spreading with just your fingers works very well too once you get the feel for it.
  3. I recommend that you spread the masa as thin as you can.
  4. I pulled strips from one of the husks to use as a tie to hold the fold together. This helps if you aren't completely filling your steamer.
  1. Once you've loaded the tamales in the steamer, (opened end facing up), pour enough water in the pan to come just below the the bottom of the tamales, but not too much that the tamales are getting wet. Watch the water level so it doesn't boil away. (Not a good thing!)
  2. Steam the tamales for 1 to 1 1/2 hours checking regularly.
  3. Note: To check for doneness, remove a tamale and let it sit for 5 minutes. The masa should no longer be sticky, and it should easily pull away from the husk
Have your bowl of dough, bowl of husks (not shown), bowl of chicken, somewhere to stuff the tortillas (I used a cookie sheet), and your steamer to put them in (or I used a colander... you'll see.), and a paper towel to wipe off the ickies on your fingers. 
Spread your dough in the middle of your husk.

Put a spread of chicken filling in the middle.  Notice I tore a few husks to tie the tamales with. 
To wrap your tamale, bring the two sides of your dough together, closing in the chicken.  Then fold over that part, then the two ends.

I didn't have to tie all the tamales, just the ends that were thicker and wouldn't stay folded over.

See, my handy dandy colander filling in as a steamer.  You can see one tamale where I didn't need to tie it and the other one where I only needed to tie one end together.

All the tamales.  My husband started helping me, so it got a little sloppy....  ;)

Since I didn't have a steamer, I put a little water in the bottom of my stockpot, then put a small stainless steel bowl down to put my colander on, so the water wouldn't touch it. 

I put the colander in the stock pot and put the lid on. 
All done!!  You can see where my husband put too much chicken fillin in them and they didn't get wrapped good. 


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