Chicken Verde Tamales
(makes approximately 3 dozen tamales)
1 recipe sauce (below)
1 recipe basic fresh masa (below)
3 pounds freshly cooked chicken (below)
2 pounds jack or cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatillos (approximately 18)
8 fresh pasilla or Anaheim chiles, roasted, or
1 large can (26 oz) green chiles
3 fresh jalapeno chiles or more (to taste), stems removed
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 medium onions, quartered
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Husk and wash tomatillos. Place the tomatillos, onions,
jalapenos and garlic in a large pot, cover with water and boil for 15
minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Place all ingredients,
including liquid, in food processor or blender and process until smooth.
Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.
Basic Fresh Masa Recipe:
Purchase unprepared* masa and prepare it as follows for a perfectly
light, flavorful dough.
5 pounds fresh masa dough (unprepared)
1 pound butter (or margarine if preferred)
2-3 cups meat (chicken, pork, beef) or vegetable stock (chicken stock
2 tablespoons (or less) of salt
Place the butter into a bowl and ship until fluffy, 2 minutes. Add
the fresh masa alternately with the stock and add the salt. Beat until
well mixed and turn mixer to high and beat for approximately 3-5 minutes
or until masa resembles spackling paste.
Take a small piece (1/2 teaspoon) and drop it into a cup of cold water.
If it floats it is ready, if it sinks, whip for another minute and test
it again. Repeat this process until the masa floats.
Note: The fresher the masa, the faster it will become light and fluffy
enough for use. Using 1/2 cup of masa per tamale, one pound of unprepared
masa will yield approximately one dozen tamales so this recipe will
make approximately 60 tamales.
The Chicken and Stock:
Using whole chickens is necessary to extract all the flavors from every
important part of the chicken. DO NOT USE BREASTS ONLY. You may use
whole leg quarters, but the best stock will come from a whole chicken.
A large quantity of celery also adds to the richness. Of course, you
may use your own chicken stock recipe if you prefer, as long as it is
good and rich to punch up the flavor of the masa.
3 whole chickens - 3 1/2 pounds each
1 large whole celery
3 large whole cloves of garlic
1 large onion
3 quarts (at least) water
1 tablespoon seasoned salt.
Wash the chickens and pull off all fat and anything that looks as though
it should not have been left on. Wash the celery separately and cut
off the very bottom. Cut the top end off the onion (approx. 1/4 inch)
and discard. Cut onion in half. Peel the garlic. Put everything in an
8-12 quart pot, cover with water, add seasoned salt, cover and bring
to a very high boil you can't stir down. Then reduce to medium high
and let cook for one hour.
When done, turn off heat, take chickens out, and set on a large plate
to cool. You may cover with a kitchen towel if you wish. When chickens
are cool enough to handle, remove all meat and set aside, discarding
skin and fat.
Strain stock from the pot into a large bowl or other pot, saving it
to use in the masa preparation. Taste stock and adjust if necessary.
Choose the larger corn husks. Put a husk in the palm of your hand
and evenly spread 1/2 cup (an ice cream scoop is a good tool for this
step) masa across the middle (width) of the husk with a spatula or the
back of a large spoon. In the center of the masa, place 1 heaping tablespoon
of the chicken, 1 tablespoon of the cheese, and 2 tablespoons of the
sauce on top. Fold both sides, one over the other, of the husk tightly
over the filling. Hold firmly in your hand and tie at both ends with
the strips of the husk.
Place all the tamales in a large steamer pot with a steamer basket
with 3 to 4 inches of hot water on the bottom. Layer the tamales in
a cross-cross pattern with the tied ends supporting the layer on top
to allow them to steam uniformly and prevent crushing. Bring to a high
boil and start timing the steaming process when the steam is rising
out of the pot. Cover the tamales with leftover corn husks or a clean
damp kitchen towel and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to medium high
and steam for one hour.