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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Green Chile Chicken Tamales

Everyone I know says tamales and thinks too much time and effort, well not really.  Entertaining, lively and mouthwatering best describe our tamale reality.  Folding the tamale is the most difficult aspect.  We enjoy this recipe as well as the green corn tamale from El Cholo's.  Make extra sauce!
see more photo's

little hands helping out

folded before the finish fold


Green Chile Chicken Tamales
from Rick Bayless
Mexico One Plate At A Time

1 (8 ounce) package dried corn husks or fresh banana leaf (what I used) cut into segments 
1 lb tomatillo, husked and rinsed (10-12 medium)
2 to 4 fresh jalapenos stemmed
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups organic chicken broth
4 cups (about 1 lb.)  cooked roasted chicken coarsely shredded
2/3 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
8 ounces  Earth's Balance vegetable shortening
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3 1/2 cups dried masa harina, for tamales mixed with 2 1/4 cups hot water
1 -1 1/2 cup chicken broth

~ cover the husks with very hot water, weight with a plate to keep them submerged, and let stand for a couple of hours until the husks are pliable or if using fresh banana do not soak.  They are ready to use.
~ on a baking sheet, roast the tomatillos about 4 inches below a very hot broiler until soft and blacken in spots, about 5 minutes; flip and roast the other side. Cool 
~ transfer to a food processor or blender, along with  juice that has run onto the baking sheet. Add the chiles and garlic and process to a smooth puree
~ heat the oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium high. When quite hot, add the puree all at once and stir until noticeably thicker and darker, about 5 minutes  cover the pot with a splatter screen 
~ Add 2 cups of the broth and simmer over medium heat  until thick enough to coat a spoon quite heavily, at least 10 minutes 
~ season  with salt
~ stir in the chicken and cilantro; cool completely 
~ beat shortening with 2 teaspoons salt and the baking powder with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light in texture, about 1 minute. 
~ continue beating as you add the masa in three additions 
~ reduce the speed to medium-low and add 1 cup of the remaining broth
~ continue beating for another minute or so, until a ½-teaspoon dollop of the batter floats in a cup of cold water (if it floats you can be sure the tamales will be tender and light)
~ beat in enough of the remaining ½ cup of broth to give the mixture the consistency of soft (not runny) cake batter; it should hold its shape in a spoon 
~ taste the batter and season with additional salt if you think it needs some 
~  for the lightest textured tamales, refrigerate the batter for an hour or so, then rebeat, adding a little more broth or water to bring the mixture to the soft consistency it had before (I am to lazy to do this)
~ for forming the tamales, separate out 24 of the largest and most pliable husks ones that are at least 6 inches across on the wider end and 6 or 7 inches long. If you can't find enough good ones, overlap some of the large ones to give wide, sturdy surfaces to spread the batter on. Pat the chosen husks dry with a towel.  If using banana leaf just wash and dry and cut into 6x7" pieces
~ cut twenty-four 8- to 10-inch pieces of string or thin strips of corn husks
~ one at a time, form the tamales: Lay out one of your chosen corn husks with the tapering end toward you
~ spread about ¼ cup of the batter into about a 4-inch square, leaving at least a 1 ½-inch border on the side toward you and a ¾-inch border along the other sides (with large husks, the borders will be much bigger)
~  spoon about 1 ½ tablespoons of the filling down the center of the batter
~ pick up the two long sides of the cornhusk and bring them together (this will cause the batter to surround the filling)
~ if the uncovered borders of the two long sides you're holding are narrow, tuck one side under the other; if wide, roll both sides in the same direction around the tamale (If the husk is small, you may feel more comfortable wrapping the tamal in a second husk)
~ finally, fold up the empty 1 ½-inch section of the husk (to form a tightly closed bottom leaving the top open), and secure it in place by loosely tying one of the strings or strips of husk around the tamale
~ as they're made, stand the tamales on their folded bottoms in the prepared steamer
~ steaming 24 husk-wrapped tamales can be done in batches in a collapsible vegetable steamer set into a large, deep soup kettle
~  it is best to line the rack or upper part of the steamer with leftover corn husks to protect the tamales from direct contact with the steam and to add more flavor
~  leave tiny spaces between the husks so condensing steam can drain off
~   when all the tamales are in the steamer, cover them with a layer of leftover cornhusks
~ if your husk-wrapped tamales don't take up the entire steamer, fill in the open spaces with loosely wadded aluminum foil (to keep the tamales from falling over)
~ set the lid in place and steam over a constant medium heat for about 1 ¼ hours. (depending on the size of the tamales you make, it can take up to 4 hours)
~ watch carefully that all the water doesn't boil away and, to keep the steam steady, pour boiling water into the pot when more is necessary
~ tamales are done when the husk peels away from the masa easily
~ let tamales stand in the steamer off the heat for a few minutes to firm up
~ for the best textured tamales, let them cool completely, then re-steam about 15 minutes to heat through.

items from our garden: banana leaf, jalapenos, cilantro, tomatillos

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