Chicken Tamales

From The Best International Recipe

Why this recipe works:

For our tamales recipe, we turned to readily available masa harina, or flour made from masa that has been dried. We supplemented the masa harina with grits and added frozen corn kernels—together they vastly improved the flavor of the dough. Fat is a necessary ingredient in the dough, and while… read more

For our tamales recipe, we turned to readily available masa harina, or flour made from masa that has been dried. We supplemented the masa harina with grits and added frozen corn kernels—together they vastly improved the flavor of the dough. Fat is a necessary ingredient in the dough, and while we tried many types, we preferred the traditional lard, along with some butter, for our tamale recipe. Baking powder, used in some recipes that we encountered, worked well to prevent the dough from cooking up with a hard, dense texture, and a food-processor mixing method also incorporated air into the dough for a somewhat lighter texture.

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Makes 12 tamales, Serves 4 to 6 as a light main course

Be sure to use quick grits, not instant—instant grits are processed further and will adversely affect the texture and flavor of the tamales. You can substitute 1 cup fresh corn kernels (cut from about 1 1/2 cobs), for frozen, if desired. You can also substitute 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter for the lard if desired; the flavor, however, will have an untraditional, buttery flavor. For instructions on how to cook and shred chicken for the filling, see related recipe for Shredded Cooked Chicken. You can also substitute 1 cup shredded Shepherd-Style Spicy Pork (see related recipe) for the chicken.

Ingredients

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