Hot Tamales!

So there’s this food item I’ve been wanting to attempt homemade since the good old days of apartment living in Clifton, New Jersey.


This desire stems even longer than that.

It takes me back to one of my first restaurant jobs. A certain sous chef and I would trek into New York City’s Union Square to pick up our weekend produce at the Greenmarket.  One of our favorite farmers had been noshing on one of these little gems, made out of an apartment by a local woman, and offered us some. I, for one, was hooked.  We then arranged with our farmer friend to order at least a couple for each of us every week after, as the woman usually passed through earlier than we arrived.  Since then, I always wanted to make these myself.

After years of procrastination, I finally made it happen.

First, you need to slow cook your chicken…

  • Boneless chicken thighs            about 1 #
  • Stock                                            1 qt
  • Water, or beer                          1 c
  • Cinnamon stick                      1
  • Dried ancho chiles                1
  • Bay leaf                                       1
  • Garlic                                            3 cloves chopped
  • Ground coriander                      1 tsp
  • Ground achiote                        1 tsp
  • Ground black pepper             1 tsp
  • Cocoa  pdr                               1 tsp
  • Allspice                                    ½ tsp
  • Onion pdr                               ½ tsp
  • Smoked paprika                   2 tsp


Place all items in slow cooker.

Set to 8-10 hours. Cover.

When chicken is ready, remove with slotted spoon, or spider, and place in bowl to pull apart with a couple of forks. If still too hot, let cool a bit.

Strain about 1 qt liquid and place ancho chile, with stem removed, into a plastic container. Immersion mix with a little sugar to taste. This makes a pretty good sauce for your tamales. If you have xanthan gum, add 1 tsp while blending. This will make it slightly thicker.

Remember to purchase dried corn husks and soak them at least 15 mins before using!

And the masa recipe is: (from the bag of masa itself, of course)…

  • Masa                       2 cups
  • Baking pdr            1 tsp
  • Salt                          1 tsp
  • Warm stock          2 cups
  • Shortening            2/3 cup

Mix dries in mixer bowl.  Paddle in warm stock until paste forms.  Paddle in shortening until fluffy.

Bring a pot of water to a boil that can be used for steaming, and reduce to a simmer.

Take you soaked corn husks, place about 2 tbsp tamale dough in center, topped with 1 tbsp of pulled chicken mixed with a little of the sauce. Roll like a burrito, and fold in the ends.

Repeat until done, and place in steam basket.

Cover, and steam about an hour.

Open up and enjoy with extra sauce if desired!


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