These instructions are intended for the food enthusiast who enjoys good food and would like to learn the art of making a traditional Mexican dish.
The instructions within this recipe, when followed from beginning to end, will teach you how to successfully make tamales; a Mexican dish that has become known and loved by many cultures and is one you will surely enjoy sharing with family and friends.
Table of Contents
I. What you will Need
III. Terms to Know
IV. Steps for Making Tamales de Pollo (Chicken Tamales)
1) Soften Corn Shucks
2) Prepare Masa (dough for tamales)
3) Prepare Filling
4) Assemble Tamales
5) Cook Tamales
I. What you will need:
1. Medium Sauce Pan
2. Mortar and Pestle
3. Large Cooking Pot
4. Large Steamer or Colander
5. Large Frying Pan
6. Cooking Spoon
7. Large Mixing Bowl
8. Small mixing bowl
9. Measuring Spoons
10. Measuring Cups
12. Cheese Cloth
13. Straight Edge Knife
15. Plastic Wrap
Masa (Tamale Dough)
4 cups packed masa, such as MASECA (for tamales)
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/3 cups vegetable shortening or lard
2 red chili pods, boiled and sieved
Chicken filling for tamales
2 tablespoons oil
8 cups chicken, cooked and diced
1 lb corn shucks
2 quarts boiling water
3 teaspoons mixed spices (peppercorns and cumin)
1 tablespoon chili powder or more (depends on heat of chili powder or spice tolerance of tamale eater)
1 tablespoon salt
3 gloves garlic
III. Terms to Know:
1. Grind – to crush into very small pieces using a twisting or rotating motion
2. Jelly-Roll Fashion – to roll up like a “Swiss Roll”.
3. Knead - to prepare dough by pressing it.
4. Mortar and Pestle – A food preparation tool used for grinding herbs and spices.
5. Sieve – a tool that consists of a net of very thin wires that you pour a mixture through to remove large pieces.
6. Simmer – to cook gently, keep liquid just below boiling point.
IV. Safety First – Always Use Caution: “Frying is the #1 activity associated with cooking fires. Cooking oil or grease can easily catch fire if it gets too hot -- and because frying is typically done in an open pan, a fire can spread easily once it starts.” (National Fire Protection Association) “In the kitchen, it usually isn't fires that burn young kids. More often, it's contact with a hot stove or pans or a scald from hot cooking liquids or steam.” (National Fire Protection Association)
V. Steps for Making Tamales de Pollo (Chicken Tamales)
Step 1 - Soaking the Corn Shucks
1) Soak corn shucks in one quart boiling water for 1 hour. While the corn shucks are soaking move on to step 2.
Step 2 – Preparation of the Masa (dough for tamales)
1) In a medium sauce pan bring 2 cups of water to boil. While water boils make a slit through chili pods and remove seeds. Place chili pods in boiling water and boil for 10minutes. Remove pan from heat, drain water and set chili pods aside to cool. Place cooled chili pods in blender and blend.
2) In a large mixing bowl mix masa and baking powder. Add shortening (or lard) and blended chilis pods and work well into masa to form dough. Gradually add chicken broth and salt to dough mixture and knead well, using enough broth to make the dough spreadable.
Step 3 – Preparation of the Filling
1) Grind Spices and garlic in mortar. Add about 1 tablespoon of water to grinded spices in mortar and pour spice mixture into a large frying pan and sauté in oil for 1 minute. Add diced cooked chicken, salt, and ½ cup chicken broth and chili powder to spices in frying pan and simmer for 5 minutes.
2) In a small mixing bowl add 1/3 cup of the prepared dough and 2/3 cup chicken broth to make a paste; add paste to the simmering chicken and continue cooking, stirring constantly until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat.
Step 4 – Tamale