Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Quick Chicken and Cheese Tamales

When I made that seven-chile chili recently, I bought a big bag of masa harina. That recipe used just a small amount, so I was excited to find a recipe for tamales in Food & Wine that would make good use of it. The recipe replaces the traditional corn husk wrapper with plastic wrap to encase the filling for steaming. After trying that in the first round, I used foil the next and found that I preferred that technique. This recipe makes a lot, so you can make it for dinner one night and the filling will keep in the fridge for a couple of days til you're ready for more. Of course, I was ready for more the very next day. The filling is delicious! It has the perfect proportion of chicken to dough, is a nice hearty texture without being heavy — and a squirt of Sriracha is just the cherry on top of a perfect meal.

Quick Chicken and Cheese Tamales
via Food & Wine

2 cups masa harina
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 cups cool water
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening (3 ounces), softened
1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 1/2 cups shredded chicken (from 1 rotisserie chicken)
1/4 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 packed cup)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 scallions, finely chopped
Hot sauce, for serving

In a food processor, pulse the masa harina with the baking powder and salt. Add the water and pulse to moisten the masa harina. Add the vegetable shortening in clumps and drizzle with the chicken stock. Process until smooth and evenly blended, scraping the side of the bowl occasionally. Transfer the dough to a large bowl and stir in the shredded chicken, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro and scallions.

Tear twelve 12-inch-square sheets of plastic wrap or foil. Working with 6 at a time, spoon a scant 1/2 cup of the tamale mixture onto the center of each sheet. With lightly moistened hands, press the tamales into 4-by-2-inch rectangles, about 1/2 inch thick. Fold up the squares of plastic/foil around the tamales, twist the ends securely and then fold them under to make packets. Repeat to form the remaining tamales. 

Arrange the tamales seam side down in the bottom of a large bamboo (or other) steamer. Steam over 2 inches of boiling water for 25 minutes. Let the tamales cool slightly, then carefully transfer them to a large platter: Cut the ends of the plastic-wrapped packets and slide the tamales out onto the platter. Serve the tamales with hot sauce. 


  1. I have to make these pronto! They look delicious. I'm trying to make to to see you at one of the shows. So far all of the weekends is when I'm working :( Except for 1 and that is my papa's 80th bday party. I'm still working on it though!

  2. You do, you do! They are SO tasty. I packed away some in the freezer and am so glad I did! I DO hope I get to see you at one oft he upcoming shows, but totally understand if it doesn't work out! Happy bday to your papa!