If you’re thinking about serving tamales at your holiday gathering, there are plenty of places around town you can rustle up a dozen or two, including Barrio Queen. But if you’d like to try making them yourself, Barrio Queen’s executive chef Julio Mata says they aren’t that hard to make. “It’s just a little time consuming,” he says.
Mata shares Barrio Queen’s recipe with a couple of suggestions: 1. Make the sauce first so you can mix it with the chicken after it’s cooked. 2. Make sure the masa is smooth, using an electric mixer or mix by hand. 3. It’s better to have a couple of people to help assemble the tamales because it goes faster. 4. You can use Crisco if you’re lard averse and will get the same results.
Barrio Queen green chile chicken tamales
Yields: 2 dozen
Green tomatillo sauce
2 lbs. green tomatillo
1 seeded jalapeno (jalapenos this time of year tend to be hotter so don’t blend all of it at once until you taste the sauce)
1 poblano pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 medium yellow onion cut into large dice
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
Roast everything together at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes until slightly browned on the skin.
Place all the roasted ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth, adding 1 Tbsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper or to taste.
1 tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. granulated garlic
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. crushed oregano
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. mild chili powder
2 lbs. dark chicken meat (thigh and leg meat, which is more moist and flavorful than breast meat)
1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
½ medium white or yellow onion finely diced
Mix the raw chicken with the garlic, onions and spice mix. Place evenly on a large baking sheet and place in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Check doneness using a thermometer. Once the chicken is cooked to 165 degrees, remove from the oven. Let cool slightly so you can chop or dice the chicken into small pieces.
In a large sauté pan on medium-low heat, add a little oil to the pan and combine the diced chicken with the green tomatillo sauce and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Mixture is now ready for the tamale.
Prepared: Masa with lard
Not prepared: Add lard or vegetable shortening (Crisco)
Prepared tamale masa can be procured from any Hispanic grocery store, such as Ranch Market, Food City, La Fiesta or El Super.
Soak in hot water until really soft and pliable
Take out of the water when ready to wrap
1. Arrange one husk on a work surface with narrow end pointing away from you. On the wide end, spread 3 tablespoons (about 4 oz.) of the masa in a 5x3 in rectangle, leaving a ½ inch border of husk at the bottom.
2. Spoon 2 Tbsp. of the chicken filling in the center of the tamale dough. It's really important to be fairly accurate in the filling and dough. If you make them too big, they will take quite a while to steam.
3. Fold in the long sides of the husk, overlapping them to enclose the filling.
4. Fold the bottom up. The goal is that you have dough completely covering the filling, which is in a little pocket in the center.
5. Roll all the way up.
6. You can use kitchen twine to tie them closed or place them in the steamer, folded side down.
1. Using a large stockpot and a steamer basket, fill with enough water to fall just below the steamer basket.
2. Heat water to start steaming.
3. Loosely arrange tamales in steamer.
4. If you have cheesecloth or a small towel you can lay that right on top. It's OK if you don't. It makes the tamales toward the top steam a bit more evenly like the tamales at the bottom.
4. Cover and let steam on medium low heat for 90-120 minutes.
5. Be sure to check the water level periodically so it does not run dry or your pot will be ruined.
6. Tamales are done when dough is firm to touch.
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