1.5poundsof boneless skinless chicken breast or chicken breast tenderscleaned
1head of garliccut in half lengthwise
1large white onionpeeled with the ends cut off
1teaspoonchicken bouillonchicken broth powder
8cupswateror enough to cover the chicken with 1 inch to spare at the top
For the sauce:
6-7large tomatillospeeled, washed and cut into four pieces
1large white onionpeeled and cut in half
2jalapeñoswith the stems cut off
1serrano chilewith the stem cut off
4 ½cupschicken broth
1bunch of cilantro
For the masa:
4cupsinstant yellow corn masa flourI prefer the Maseca brand
1teaspoonsaltplus more to taste
5-7cupschicken brothfrom the boiled chicken
10ouncesQueso Fresco (I prefer the Cacique brand)
Corn Husk Prep
Separate the corn husks from each other and remove any threads of silk.
In a stockpot over high heat, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the corn husks, making sure to keep the husks separate. Let them soak for at least 1 hour before using them.
To a medium saucepan, add chicken breast, garlic, onion, chicken bouillon and 6-8 cups of water. Water should be an inch above the ingredients.
Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through; about 10-12 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a plate and strain the vegetables and broth through a fine mesh strainer, reserving and setting aside the broth to use again.
Meanwhile, in another pot, cook the ingredients for the sauce.
Add the tomatillos, white onion, garlic, jalapeños, serranos, chicken broth and salt to a large boiling pot and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the tomatillos start to turn yellow.
Strain the vegetables from the broth (no need to reserve) and add them to a blender. Sprinkle in cumin powder.
Let cool for 10-15 minutes, then blend until a smooth sauce forms. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Reserve about ¾ cup of the sauce and set it aside for use in the dough.
Pour the reserved broth into one of the saucepans simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Shred the chicken, add it to the large bowl of sauce and stir to combine. Stir in the queso fresco. If the chicken mixture seems dry, add the warmed chicken broth a little bit at a time until desired consistency is reached. Add salt to taste.
To the large bowl of a stand mixer, add vegetable shortening and whip until fluffy and smooth (about 5 minutes).
In a separate bowl, mix together the instant corn flour, baking powder and salt then beat into the shortening until well incorporated.
Gradually add chicken stock, a little at a time, and beat on low speed until all broth has been added and a dough has formed. Increase speed to medium and beat for 10 minutes, until the dough is nice and fluffy. Pour in the reserve ¾ cup of green sauce and mix again on medium-low speed for several minutes. Taste and add more salt as needed. Cover with a damp paper towel so it doesn’t dry out.
Tamale Assembly (visual instructions are included in the post)
Lay a cornhusk, rough side down, on a flat surface or hold it in your hand. Spread about 2-3 tablespoons of masa onto the lower half of the cornhusk, leaving a small border at the bottom. Spread the masa out evenly, not too thin or thick.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture to the center. Fold in the sides of the husks then fold down the top, like a burrito. Repeat until all of the filling is used. Discard any leftover masa.
Optional: tie the husks with a small shred of husk or some cooking string. This isn’t always necessary, but will help to hold the husk in place and could be helpful in identifying if you are making different varieties of fillings.
Steam the tamales
Add water to the bottom of a large pot and add a steamer basket.
Add three or four small pieces of soaked corn husks to the bottom of the pot. Smash a large piece of aluminum foil into a ball and add it to the center of the pan.
Place filled and wrapped tamales, standing open side up, into the pot. Lean against the foil and work your way out. Slide three or four large corn husks down the sides of the pan around the tamales and cover the pot with the lid.
Turn heat to medium high and cook for one hour, adding water down the side of the pot every 15-20 minutes or whenever the water has run out. Be careful not to pour the water over the tamales and don’t fill above the steamer basket.
To test for doneness, pull a tamale from the pot and try to remove the husk. If it separates easily, it’s done. If not, cook for an additional 15 minutes or more as needed.
Remove the pan from the heat and let the tamales cool for 15-30 minutes before serving.
Storage: Tamales can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days or frozen for up to 4-5 months. Thaw before reheating.
Optional filling variations: For a simplified filling, shred 2-3 cups rotisserie chicken and combine with a 16-ounce jar of salsa verde (I like Herdez brand) and the queso fresco cheese.
Instead of shortening or lard, you can use vegetable oil. No need to beat, just mix with the dry ingredients for the dough.