Tamal with Salsa Verde


Tamal with Salsa Verde

By David Calito      ,

March 17, 2015

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A tamale is a traditional Mesoamerican dish made of mass.
Green Chicken Tamale is a traditional Mexican dish and prefect to enjoy with beans and tortillas.

  • Prep: 45 mins
  • Cook: 2 hrs 20 mins
  • 45 mins

    2 hrs 20 mins

    3 hrs 5 mins

  • Yields: 16- 30 servings


1 (10 ounce) package dried corn husks

1 pound (green) tomatillo, husked and rinsed (10-12 medium)

Fresh hot green chili pepper, stemmed (6 serranos or jalapenos)

4 large garlic cloves, peeled

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or 1 1⁄2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups chicken broth


4 cups cooked chicken, preferably grilled, roasted (about 1 pound.) or 4 cups rotisserie chicken, coarsely shredded (about 1 pound.)

2⁄3 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro

10 ounces rich-tasting pork fat, slightly softened but not at all runny

1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder

2 pounds fresh coarse-ground corn flour, for tamales or 3 1⁄2 cups dried corn flour

Tamales mixed with 2 1/4 cups hot water

2 cup chicken broth


Wash and clean all vegetables.

Preparing the corn husks. Cover the husks with very hot water, weight with a plate to keep them submerged, and let stand for a couple of hours until the husks are pliable.

Preparing the filling: On a baking sheet, roast the tomatillos (green small tomatoes) about 4 inches below a very hot broiler until soft about 5 minutes; flip them over and roast the other side.

Cool and transfer to a food processor or blender, along with all the delicious juice that has run onto the baking sheet. Add the chiles and garlic and process to a smooth puree. Heat the oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium high. When quite hot, add the puree all at once and stir until noticeably thicker and darker, about 5 minutes.

Add 2 cups of the broth and simmer over medium heat until thick enough to coat a spoon quite heavily, at least 10 minutes. I keep it simmering while I shred the chicken.

Taste and season highly with salt, usually about 2 teaspoons. Stir in the chicken and cilantro; cool completely.

Preparing the batter: With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the lard or shortening with 2 teaspoons salt and the baking powder until light in texture, about 1 minute. Continue beating as you add the mass (fresh or reconstituted) in three additions.

Reduce the speed to medium-low and add 1 cup of the remaining broth. Continue beating for another minute or so, until a ½-teaspoon dollop of the batter floats in a cup of cold water.

Beat in enough of the remaining ½ cup of broth to give the mixture the consistency of soft (not runny) cake batter; it should hold its shape in a spoon.

Taste the batter and season with additional salt if you think it needs some. For the lightest textured tamales, refrigerate the batter for an hour or so, then rebeat, adding a little more broth or water to bring the mixture to the soft consistency it had before.

For forming the tamales, separate out 24 of the largest and most pliable husks—ones that are at least 6 inches across on the wider end and 6 or 7 inches long. If you can’t find enough good ones, overlap some of the large ones to give wide, sturdy surfaces to spread the batter on. Pat the chosen husks dry with a towel.

Forming the tamales. Cut twenty-four 8- to 10-inch pieces of string or thin strips of corn husks. One at a time, form the tamales: Lay out one of your chosen corn husks with the tapering end toward you.

Spread about ¼ cup of the batter into about a 4-inch square, leaving at least a 1 ½-inch border on the side toward you and a ¾-inch border along the other sides.

Spoon about 1 ½ tablespoons of the filling down the center of the batter. Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together.

If the uncovered borders of the two long sides you’re holding are narrow, tuck one side under the other; if wide, roll both sides in the same direction around the tamale.

Finally, fold up the empty 1 ½-inch section of the husk , and secure it in place by loosely tying one of the strings or strips of husk around the tamale. As they’re made, stand the tamales on their folded bottoms in the prepared steamer. Don’t tie the tamales too tightly or pack them too closely in the steamer.

They need room to expand.

Also Setting up the steamer. Steaming 24 husk-wrapped tamales can be done in batches in a collapsible vegetable steamer set into a large, deep saucepan. To steam them all at once, you need something like the kettle-size tamale steamers used in Mexican or Asian stack steamers, or you can improvise by setting a wire rack on 4 coffee or custard cups in a large kettle.

It is best to line the rack or upper part of the steamer with leftover corn husks to protect the tamales from direct contact with the steam and to add more flavor. Make sure to leave tiny spaces between the husks so condensing steam can drain off.

Steaming and serving the tamales: When all the tamales are in the steamer, cover them with a layer of leftover corn husks; if your husk-wrapped tamales don’t take up the entire steamer, fill in the open spaces with loosely wadded aluminum foil.

Set the lid in place and steam over a constant medium heat for about 1 ¼ hours.

Watch carefully that all the water doesn’t boil away and, to keep the steam steady, pour boiling water into the pot when more is necessary.

Tamales are done when the husk peels away from the mass easily. Let tamales stand in the steamer off the heat for a few minutes to firm up. For the best textured tamales, let them cool completely, then re-steam about 15 minutes to heat through.

Note: Serve with beans and rice.


Nutrition Facts

Serving Size200g
Total Fat15g
Saturated Fat5g
Polyunsaturated Fat2g
Monounsaturated Fat6g
Trans Fat16g
Total Carbohydrates35g
Dietary Fiber6g

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