I have always enjoyed eating tamales during the holidays. My mother used to purchase holiday tamales from a local source in our hometown in South Texas. She would supply the ingredients from our own grocery store. On occasions she would provide deer meat from my brother’s recent hunting expedition to use in the deer tamales. She had always told me “tamales were an all-day process”! This was the year to try this all-day process. I purchased ingredients from a local Mexican grocery store that included dried corn husks, dried Chile pods, Gluten-free Maseca instant corn masa mix, Knorr chicken bouillon cubes and shortening. I ended up using 1/2 shortening and 1/2 canola oil. Once a year I guess I can use shortening. Next time, I will just use canola oil. I also plan to have a tamale party with my daughters and granddaughters. I think the younger girls will enjoy playing and spreading the masa on the husks. I guess I feel a little bit of a regret I missed participating in this first-hand skill, although I am thankful for many other cooking experiences I shared with my mother. I am going to share this recipe with my granddaughters and have a tamale party, when they come for the holidays. For a full ingredients list see below.
Add 3 oz dried Chile pods to a large pot, add enough water to cover the pods and simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool. Open pods to remove seeds and stems. Stack pods in a food processor. Pour Chile water through sieve to remove anymore seeds and add Chile water to food processor to 3/4 full. I added too much water the first time and it spilled out of my food processor. oops! Add 4-5 garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1 teaspoon salt. Blend well. This Chile sauce will be used to season the masa and the chicken filling.
Soak corn husks in a large pot with warm water for 30 minutes and rinse.
Add 2 large frozen chicken breasts to your instant pot. Add 6 cups water and 3 Knorr chicken bouillon cubes. Set to high pressure for 15 minutes. Manual release after 30 minutes. Let chicken cool on a plate, remove excess fat and skin. Shred chicken with 2 forks for thin strips. Add about 3/4 cup Chile sauce to shredded chicken and mix well.
In a large stand mixer, add 6 cup instant corn masa mix. Continue adding 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 6 tablespoons shortening and 6 tablespoons canola oil. Beat on low speed. Gradually add 4 cups chicken stock (from instant pot) and 3/4 cup Chile sauce until combined. Once stock is mixed in, increase speed to medium for 5-8 minutes until fluffy. Cover bowl with damp towel and refrigerate until ready to use.
Assemble the tamales:
- Lay a soaked corn husk on a plate or your hand. Add 4 tablespoons ( for slightly thicker tamales use additional 1 tablespoon) masa to the middle of the husk. Form a rectangle or the shape of your hand. Husk should be 6 inches wide and 8 inches long.
- Add 2 tablespoons chicken filling to center of the masa lengthwise. Fold the husk vertically from right to left and then opposite.
- Fold the husk in half from top to bottom.
Steam the tamales:
Add 1 cup water or broth to bottom of stock pot or instant pot. Add steamer basket or rack to the bottom. Place and lean the tamales in an inverted V- shape with the folded edge to the bottom. I first set the instant pot to 20 minutes. I checked and decided the tamales needed more time, so I added another 10 minutes. The tamales should pull away from the husk easily. In conclusion, pressure cook for 30 minutes on high pressure, and manual release after 30 minutes. If cooking in stock pot, steam for 40 minutes. I cooked 8 tamales for the first batch and then the 12 at a second batch.
Serve immediately with salsa or homemade chili con carne. To store, refrigerate in freezer bag for 3 days or freeze up to 3 month.
Adapted from other sources:
Dried corn husks
6 cups instant corn masa mix
3 teaspoons salt (use 1 teaspoon for Chile sauce)
3 teaspoons cumin (use 1 teaspoon for Chile sauce)
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 cups water
3 bouillon cubes
6 tablespoons shortening
6 tablespoons canola oil
2 large chicken breast bone-in
4-5 garlic cloves
3 oz dried Chile pods
Instant pot or pressure cooker
Makes 20 tamales.
I did up using a tortilla press for the last dozen. Add plastic wrap to tortilla press. Lay husk on top with 1/4 cup masa, hold over plastic wrap and press down.
Surprise: You will also have about 1-1/4 cups shredded chicken and 2 cups Chile salsa leftover..so make some Chicken Enchiladas. This will make 6 chicken and 2 cheese enchiladas.
Make a roux, by adding 2 tablespoons flour to saucepan, stir often until brown. Add 2 cups Chile sauce and stir often to blend. If too thick add 1 cup chicken broth. Lightly fry corn tortillas, pat excess oil, fill with chicken and chopped onion. Fill 6 with chicken and 2 with grated cheese. Add to greased casserole dish. Pour Chile sauce and top, add more grated cheese and diced onion. Warm in 400 degree oven for 5-10 minutes.