Serves 8-10 people
For the Tamales
1 bag corn husks, re-hydrated in warm water
6 cups masa harina
3-4 cups chicken stock, recipe is below
1 cup lard or vegetable shortening
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
For the Filling
2 large chickens
1 yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
8 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ cup cilantro, stems and leaves
6 dried ancho chiles, re-hydrated in hot water
6 dried pasilla chiles, re-hydrated in hot water
1 cup roasted tomatoes
For the Accompaniments
2 red onions, sliced and grilled
1 cup corn, shaved off the cob and sautéed
1 cup sour cream
Steamer insert for pot
Blender with glass pitcher so chilies don’t stain
Soak the corn husks in warm water, placing a heavy plate or bowl on them to keep submerged. Let stand until husks soften, turning occasionally, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
In a large stock pot place chickens, 4 garlic cloves, onion and cilantro. Add enough cold water to cover the chickens. Bring pot to a slight boil over medium high heat, then cover pot and lower to simmer for about 30 minutes over medium heat or until chicken is cooked through but still moist.
Remove chickens from the pot and set aside to cool. Strain out the chicken stock and reserve for use in masa dough.
In a medium bowl add dried chiles and cover with hot water. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let chiles steep for 30 minutes or until soft. Once chiles are soft, drain off the liquid. Remove the stems and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl fitted with a paddle beat lard or vegetable shortening on high speed until light and fluffy. Turn mixer off. Add 2 cups of masa harina and then mix on low speed until a small dough ball forms. Turn dough ball out into a large mixing bowl. Add remaining masa harina, baking powder, salt and about 3 cups of the warm chicken stock. Mix well. The dough should be soft, but not runny. If the dough appears dry add more stock.In a blender combine tomatoes, dried chiles, 4 cloves of garlic and ¼ cup of chicken stock. Blend until a smooth paste forms.
When chickens have cooled, pull the meat of the bones by hand and shred the meat using your hands, into a bowl. Add the chili paste to the bowl with the chicken. Season with salt and mix well.
For the Tamale Assembly
Spread about a ¼ cup of masa dough in the center of the corn husk. Leave at least a 1 ½ inch border at the tapered bottom end of the husk and about a ¾ inch border on the top end. Spoon about 1 ½ tablespoons of the chicken filling in the center of the dough square.
Pick up the two long sides of the husks and fold them around the masa and chicken.
Allow the flaps to overlap, to form a little bundle.
Now, fold the tapered end of the husks up towards the top of the tamale. With a thin strip of corn husks, tie a ribbon around the bottom flap of the tamale to secure the flap in place.
Do not tie it too tight; leave room for tamale to expand.
When all tamales are assembled place them upright (open end up) into the steamer. Allow room in the pot for the tamales to cook evenly.
If there is extra room in the pot, form a ball with foil and fill in the gaps of the pot, this will prevent the tamales from falling over.
Place any remaining corn husks loosely on the top of the tamales. Cover tightly with a lid and set steamer to cook on the stove on high heat. Make sure there is enough hot water in the steamer at all times. A little trick is to use a penny in the bottom of the pot. If you hear it rattle, you are out of hot water. Tamales take 45 minutes to one hour to cook.
For the Accompaniments
Peel and slice the onions into ¼ thick round slices. Lightly coat the slices with oil and grill over medium high heat until slightly charred and tender.
Shave corn kernels from the cob. Sauté corn in oil until golden brown and tender. Combine onions and corn in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper.
Open corn husk and top with corn, onions and sour cream. Yum!