Tamales: Perfect for the Holidays

We hope you’ve been thinking about the upcoming Christmas menu, here’s a recipe idea from Teatro Vivo. We wish you a Feliz Navidad and Happy Holidays!

By: Claudia Resendez

In a Hispanic home, everything revolves around the kitchen; food and family go hand-in-hand – especially during the holidays! One of the dishes most commonly seen in Hispanic homes during this time of year is tamales. Beef tamales, cheese and hot peppers (Spanish: rajas) tamales, chicken tamales, cheese tamales – you name it. Although much time and effort go into making the dish, every single bite is proof that it is certainly worth it.

Chicken tamales with Salsa Verde are one of the recipes most seen. The recipe presented today yields about 12 servings and only takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes to complete – it does not get easier than that! 

The ingredients necessary are: four large corn husks, which can be found at Latin markets and many other grocery stores; about 6 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken with the skin removed; 1 cup of shredded Mexican-blend cheese; ½ cup of chopped fresh cilantro; ½ cup of frozen green peas; ½ cup of pimiento-stuffed green olives, drained and halved; 2 cups of bottled green salsa; and 2 cups of self-rising yellow cornmeal mix.

The first step in any tamale recipe is to soak the cornhusks in warm water for about 30 minutes, or until they are soft and pliable. This is to avoid breakage when wrapping the tamales later. While that is taking place, it is the perfect time to prep the rest of the ingredients. Stir together the chicken, cheese, cilantro, peas, olives, salsa and cornmeal mix, and stir until all ingredients are combined.

Take two corn husks from the water and tear them into 12 separate, thin strips. You will need these to tie up the tamales later on.

Now it is time for the not-so-easy part. Unfold a soaked husk and lay flat on a work surface. Starting at the top edge, use a spoon to spread about 2/3 cup of the mix into a rectangle shape, but be sure to leave some room at the bottom for folding. Now, roll the tamale and enclose the filling. Fold up the bottom end of the husk and tie with one of the strips you have set aside from earlier.

Lastly, place the tamales in a steamer (or deep pot filled with about one inch of water), cover and steam for about half-an-hour. Once the filling is fully cooked, remove the tamales from the steamer and let stand for a few minutes. Be sure to untie the corn husks before serving.

There you have it – easy, delicious, chicken tamales with Salsa Verde.

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