Chicken Tamales

August 19, 2010
I was hit with the urge to make tamales the other day - and have such fond memories of the last time I made them with some CA friends from work. This time it was just Matthew and I, but it didn't take us long to make a huge pile for the freezer. We decided to use a pretty basic recipe, and add embellishments with each meal (i.e. different sauces, cheese, garnishes, etc.)

Green Chile Chicken Tamales
(Makes one batch of Tamales; we ended up making 4 batches and yielded around 35 tamales - it just depends how big you make them.)

Corn Husks
2 C Masa Flour
2/3 C Butter, melted
2 C Chicken Broth

6 Chicken Breasts 
2 Cans Chopped Green Chiles
2 Yellow Onions, quartered
3 Garlic Cloves
A few dashes of Salt & Pepper
Dash of Red Pepper flakes
1 large can of Green Enchilada Sauce

The night before you plan to make the tamales:
Soak the corn husks in cold water overnight so that they become pliable and easy to fold. Put the chicken, green chilies, onions, garlic cloves, and spices in a crock pot. Fill the crock pot with cold water straight to the top - leaving a couple inches of room. Cook on low overnight. In the morning remove the chicken and shred. Set aside. Use and immersion blender to blend the chicken broth and make sure the onions, etc. are well incorporated.

When you're ready to make the tamales: 

To make the masa: 
Combine the masa flour and prepared chicken stock in a medium mixing bowl. Do not overmix. Add melted butter and mix until just combined. I did this with my hands instead of a big spoon, etc.

To make the filling:
Combine shredded chicken with a bit of the chicken broth - just to slightly moisten the mixture. I also had a can of green enchilada sauce on hand, so I mixed a bit of that in as well. I did not add cheese, as I wanted to keep the tamales very basic.

To assemble the tamales: 
Take a corn husk and flatten it on your surface. Take a small palmful of the masa mixture and spread it onto the husk. Think more right to left than up and down. 
 Add a bit of filling. Make sure that the masa is smooth and that the filling is evenly spread. (This is to avoid a mouthful of masa with no chicken...with is not that great.) Fold the right side in, then the bottom up, then the left side over. Tie each tamale with a strip of corn husk to secure it together. I like to tie it in two places - top and bottom - just o make sure it stays together during steaming.
 Once you've got a pile of tamales, steam them for aprox 30 minutes, or until the masa easily pulls away from the corn husk. Make sure that you place the tamales standing up in the steamer - so your filling, etc. doesn't ooze out.
Once steamed, top with your favorites and enjoy!


  1. Looks delicious! Can't wait to make these!

  2. I love tamales but have never made them at home... thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Have I mentioned how inspiring your blog is for me??? I can't imaging how you find the time to make such beautiful food! I think I want to be you when I grow up.