Chicken, Chili and Cheese Tamales

  • Active Time 50m
  • Total Time 3h 25m
  • Rating ****

Makes 12-14 tamales; serves 6-7

Some version of these steamed cornmeal packets are served in every region in Mexico. Pack each tamale generously and don't worry if they ooze slightly during cooking.


  • For Filling:
  • 4 chicken breast halves
  • 2 cups chicken stock, or as needed
  • 4 fresh poblano chili peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded, then cut lengthwise into strips 2 inches wide
  • 1/2 cup green salsa
  • 1/2 pound panela, Manchego or Monterey Jack cheese, cut into thin strips 1/4 inch thick and 2 inches long
  • For Dough:
  • 4 fresh poblano chili peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 cup green salsa
  • 1 cup chicken stock, reserved from making filling
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 pound prepared masa dough, chilled
  • 1/2 cup lard or vegetable shortening, chilled

  • 1 package dried corn husks, soaked in hot water for at least 2 hours
  • Green salsa and crema or sour cream

Companion recipe: Green Salsa


FOR FILLING: Place the chicken breasts in a saucepan and add stock to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until tender and opaque throughout, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate to cool. Reserve the stock for the tamale dough. Remove the meat from the chicken bones, discard the skin and, using your fingers, shred the meat into strips 2 inches long. Place in a bowl and add the chili strips, salsa and salt and black pepper to taste. Toss to mix. Set aside with the cheese strips.

FOR DOUGH: Combine 2 of the chilies, the salsa, reserved chicken stock, baking soda and salt in a blender. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

Place the masa dough in a bowl and, using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat until light in texture, about 5 minutes. Slowly add the chicken stock mixture, beating until combined. Increase the speed to high and add the lard or shortening, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 15 minutes total.

TO ASSEMBLE: Drain the corn husks and pat dry. Spread 1 large (or slightly overlap 2 small) softened husks on a work surface, with the narrow end(s) pointing away from you. Leaving about 3 inches uncovered at the top and 1 1/2 inches uncovered at the bottom, spread about 2 1/2 tablespoons of the masa mixture over the center area of the husk(s). Place a spoonful of the chicken mixture on the masa and place 2 or 3 cheese strips on top. Fold one long side of the husk covered with masa over the chicken and cheese to enclose the filling completely in masa. Fold the opposite long side back over the center. Fold the top down and the bottom up, overlapping the ends. Tie a long shred of a corn husk around the center to secure the ends. Wrap in aluminum foil. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Line a large steamer rack with the remaining corn husks. Arrange the wrapped tamales on it. Place the rack over (not touching) simmering water in a pan. Cover and steam until the husks pull away from the masa without sticking, about 1 1/4 hours. Add boiling water to the pan as needed to maintain the original level.

TO SERVE: Remove the foil and place 2 tamales on each plate. Serve the salsa and the crema or sour cream in bowls on the side. Let guests unwrap the husks.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Owen. All rights reserved.

RecID 713

nutrition information per serving

849 calories; 33g total fat; 122mg cholesterol; 1598mg sodium; 87g carbohydrates; 14g fiber; 53g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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