How to Make Tamales
Sources differ over exactly how old the tamale is, but all agree that it's likely an ancient dish. Some claim it can be traced back as far as 7,000 B.C. Those who knew how to make tamales in the ancient world were creating a close predecessor of the modern day sandwich. Because tamales were portable, easily reheated and could be made ahead of time, they were the perfect food for soldiers, farmers or anyone else who might be away from home at mealtime.

The name "tamale" comes from an Aztec word meaning "wrapped food." Historically, tamales have been wrapped in banana leaves, avocado leaves, corn husks, tree bark and even paper. They could be made with corn meal similar to the masa used today, or with ground rice or beans. Fillings have included seafood, meats, vegetables, and even nuts and fruit.

Today, tamales are usually made with corn masa and steamed in corn husks. Typical fillings include chicken, beef and pork with green or red chili sauces, though those are certainly not the only fillings you can use. Learn how to make tamales, and every meal will become a fiesta.

Transcript
-Hey everyone, I'm Judith. Well, if you are throwing a big, big party have I got the recipe for you because today I'm gonna be showing you how to make Green Chili and Cheese Tamales. That's right, really delicious, a little labor intensive, but very fun. So what you'll need for this is 36 to 38 dried corn husks about 8 inches and 6 inches wide at the top. What we've done with them is soak them in hot water for about 30 minutes until they have soft. We've drained them well and we've patted them dry with paper towels. We also have 3 cups of corn tortilla flower; 2 cups of water; 3-1/2 cups of shredded cooked chicken; 12 ounces of chopped cheddar cheese shredded; 1 15-1/4-once can of whole kernel corn drained; 1 8-1/2-ounce can or 1/2 of 15 to 16 ounce can of cream style corn, today, we'll be using 1 8-1/2-ounce can of cream style corn; 1 4-once can of dice green chilli or jalapeno peppers and we'll be using 1 4-ounc can of green chilli; 1/2 cup of bottled green salsa; 2 tablespoons of cooking oil and half teaspoon of salt. So first things first, let's get our harina-water mixture ready. So, we have our flour here and all we gonna do is put in the water with it. So, we're gonna make a sort of dough with this. Let's get a spoon and mix it all in together. This is gonna be our "masa" as they say in Spanish or, you know, our dough to put in to the tamales. It is a little time consuming to make tamales, but is really fun and the out turn is really delicious. So, get all your friends over, get the kids over, get your sleeves rolled up and everyone can do a little bit of the recipe. So, as you can see, that's forming into more or less a though there. If you need a little bit more water, just add it in. That should do it, perfect. So, give that a good stir. Now, let's add in our remaining ingredients into the bowl. So, in goes the chicken, the corn. Make sure you get a nice big mixing bowl for this one, the green chili. I just said we're using green chili today, but if you wanna go even spicier, you can use jalapeno, which gives it even more of a kick. Our salsa is going in there too. Look at that all these wonderful Mexican flavored ingredients, our whole kernel corn is going in there. Don't forget the salts and the cooking oil and the cheese is going in here too. So, with all these fantastic ingredients in a bowl, let's get the mixture of altogether. Now, these various different ways, you can do tamales. Sometimes people just like to get the flour-water mixture and put that on the tamale first and then add the filling, whichever filling they are using. I think this is just a more or less time consuming way by putting all the ingredients in together and spreading that on the tamale for altogether, so get those muscles going, all those ingredients in together and that is looking good. Now, this recipe can make about 36 to 38 tamales. That is a lot of tamales. So, if you're having a big Mexican inspired fiesta, this is exactly the recipe you want. It's gonna serve a lot of people and it's gonna taste really good, really good. Alright, so that is all in there. So, let's deal with out tamales. Okay, so as I say, here we have our corn husks. Now, we've got a wider part of our tamale and a shorter part. Let's just get one that's a little bit more clear for you guys. Okay, we're gonna roll our tamales. So, we'll get a little bit of our mixture. Start with the longer side towards you and we'll put it down there and what we wanna do is spread our mixture into somewhat of a rectangle all the way to the corners as you can see here. So, you don't wanna overpack your tamale of course because then it's gonna. Well, just gonna overpack and split up. So, as you can see here, we've got-- Here we go, we can spread it a little bit more, spread our mixture and our filling onto 1 corner of our tamale right to the edges. Okay, so, the idea is, there are 2 ways of doing it. You can flip. You can see this. Hole the shorter end towards you, so you kind of making a little triangle and then we're gonna fold the rest of the tamale up like that. So, it's basically. We can do it like this, like this, this kind of shape that we want, and most people tie your tamale with a little bit of corn husk, which we can do a or a little bit strength. So, let me just show that again with another one. Try and get a nice big corn husk. So, let's roll up some of our tamales. So, little bit of this mixture, lovely Mexican flavored mixture onto one corner of our tamale. So, we wanna form type of rectangle inside. Remember not to overfill your tamale because when you roll them up you don't want everything squeezing out of there. Little bit more I think should do, good, okay. So, one sits there. Remember, the shortest side is away from. The longest side is towards you. We are going to fold this over like so, then we're gonna get the shorter part of our tamale and fold it in and then we'll continue rolling the tamale, so give it a roll, give it another roll, and that's it, what's great to do is people like to tie up their tamale just so it stays together, and you can just get one of their little bits of corn husk that you're using and tie it up into a little not like so. See if we can do a little double knot there, oh, the corn husk is long enough, there we go. Make sure the filling doesn't fall out and there you go that's your tamale ready to be streamed. So, we can repeat that with the rest of the tamales. The mixture goes in, we roll them up and then they're ready to steam. So after you give rolls all your tamales, we wanna know steam them. So, in a steam basket like this, let's get each tamale and we wanna stand them upright, open and facing the top. SO, we're just gonna place them in our steamer next to each other. We wanna fill the steamer with our tamale side by side. When you fill up the whole steamer and then put that on there for 30 minutes. Don't overpack your steamer too much obviously. They gonna expand slightly. Let them breathe a little, but in there go and they are gonna taste delicious. So, once all your tamales are in your steam basket, then you're gonna put it in your dutch oven or your large pot and you're gonna let it steam there for about 30 minutes, and last but not the least, let's not forget to cover it. So, keep that all that steam in there. Well, our tamales are just about done. We've taken them from the steamer. Let them cool a little bit. So, obviously, you don't wanna eat the husk that we put them in. So, let's just take off that little piece of husk there, unraveled them, and they should be a nice kind hard-ish consistency, beautiful with the filling in there. It might be a little bit tough to get out and you can take them out with a little bit of your spoon there, fantastic. So, we'll just unroll another tamale here. And there are great. Everyone can just a nice individual tamale filled with that beautiful green chilli and cheese dip. There we go. I've got sample of 4 or 5 here. So, we'll just keep unravelling our lovely tamales, there you go, fantastic, full of flavor, really delicious and I'm telling you, these for a party will go down like you won't believe. There you go everyone, that's how you make your Green Chili and Cheese Tamales.s
What You'll Need
  • 36 - 38   dried corn husks (about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide at the top)

  • 3   cups Masa Harina (corn tortilla flour)

  • 2   cups water

  • 3 1/2  cups shredded cooked chicken

  • 12   ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3 cups)

  • 1  15 1/4 ounce can whole kernel corn, drained

  • 1  8 1/2 ounce can  or 1/2 of a 15 to 16-can (scant 1 cup) cream-style corn

  • 1  4  ounce can diced green chile or jalapeno peppers

  • 1/2  cup bottled green salsa

  • 2   tablespoons cooking oil

  • 1/2  teaspoon salt


Step By Step
1
In a large roasting pan, soak corn husks in hot water for 30 minutes or until soft. Drain well. Pat dry with paper towels.
2
Meanwhile, for filling, in a very large bowl stir together masa harina and water until well combined. Stir in chicken, cheese, whole kernel corn, cream-style corn, undrained diced green chile peppers, salsa, cooking oil, and salt.
3
For each tamale, starting about 1-1/2 inches from pointed end, spread 1/4 cup of the filling along one long side of a corn husk into a rectangle about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide. Fold husk over filling. Fold short end of the husk up over filling. Roll up from long side to completely enclose the filling. Tie open end of tamale with strips of corn husk or 100 percent cotton kitchen string.
4
To steam, stand tamales upright in a steamer basket set over at least 1 1/2 inches of boiling water in a very large Dutch oven. Dont pack them in too tightly, but fill the space.* Cover steamer. Reduce heat to medium. Steam for 30 minutes. Carefully remove from steamer. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving. They will get firmer as they cool. Makes 36 to 38 tamales.


Make Ahead Tip
  • Wrap and freeze the cooked tamales in the corn husks. To serve, remove frozen tamales from freezer container. Place tamales in a steamer basket over gently boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through. Wrap and freeze the cooked tamales in the corn husks. To serve, remove frozen tamales from freezer container. Place tamales in a steamer basket over gently boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through.
Once you learn how to make tamales, your usual PB and J might lose its place in your brown bag lunch!
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