Mexican Tamales

This is on my bucket list of things I’d like to make before I die. I seem to get intimidated with recipes my family makes because they already make it so tasty, could I actually recreate the dish and have it taste as good if not better than my family. These tamales were originally done by my grandmother and then by my aunt, so you can see how this can make me intimidated. Over the years though, my family has started buying the masa pre made. It’s a lot of work to make your own masa, you have to work the dough by hand for a long time in order to get it to the right consistency. So now you understand why they purchase the masa already made, I tried to get a precise recipe for the masa they make but that was a crap shoot. The people from the old country don’t measure anything, they mainly go by feel. So I had to get help for the masa, I found this recipe from genius kitchen. The tamales came out great and they tasted like what my family has been making for years! Everyone loved it and said the same, FYI my family is brutally honest about what they don’t dislike so I am 100% sure they enjoyed them. Give these a try, Super Bowl is coming soon and these will feed a crowd! Hasta la proxima!

Place your boneless skinless chicken thighs in a pot of water, you want the water to cover the chicken completely. Then you are going to add the onion, garlic, cumin, oregano and cook for 45 minutes over medium high heat.

Now you are going to want to remove the seeds from the chile peppers, normally I make this with just chile ancho but I could not find any! I went to 3 grocery stores and they were all out. So I researched a little and found that New mexico chiles are also used to make tamales, so I had to improvise.

You are going to have to reconstitute these chiles so you are going to want to add them to some boiling water and submerge the chiles in the water. I like to put the lid on it and I let them hang out until the chicken is ready.

Once the chicken is ready you’re going to remove the chicken, onion and garlic out with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Now you have chicken stock, this is what we are going to use for the masa and the chile sauce.

Remove the chile peppers with a slotted spoon and place in your blender. Add your red onion, garlic, cumin, oregano and salt. You’re also going to add 2 ladle fulls of chicken broth. Blend until it is a very smooth puree.

You are going to add the puree with 1 tsp oil and cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes. If you have left over puree in your blender rinse it out with some water, you want all the goodness. Another thing to add is, I would cook this outside if you can, the sauce is very strong and the first time I made them irritated sophias eyes and mine. So I now make mine on the grill stove top outside.

When your sauce is done shred your chicken, reserve 1 TBS of chile sauce aside, you’re going to use this for your masa, add the rest of the sauce to the chicken.

Now melt your shortening and measure out your chicken stock, masa harina, baking powder and salt. I mix all of this in the kitchen aid, once it is all combined I add in the reserved chile sauce. I mixed this for along time, the longer you mix the more tender your dough will turn out. I mixed mine a good 15 minutes.

Now in a bowl of warm water add your dried corn husks, I like to put a plate over the corn husks. They tend to just stay on the surface of the water and I wanted them to reconstitute quickly.

I found that slightly drying your corn husks with a paper towel helped the masa adhere better. So I just added about 3 tablespoons of masa to the corn husk and spread it out with my hand. Then I added about 1 tablespoon of chicken filling and fold the ends and so that the corn husk  covers all of the filling. You will come to find that some of the corn husks are to small or they are ugly, those are the ones I use to tie around the tamale. You simply rip a little piece from the corn husk you aren’t going to use and wrap it around the tamale and I tied them into bows. This is an extra step, you don’t have to do this but I feel more secure that the tamale is sealed up nicely with this method.

Once you are done filling all of your tamales, place your steamer attachment in the bottom of your dutch oven. I also ball a some aluminum foil in a ball and place it in the middle of the steamer.

Then fill the dutch oven slightly with water, you want to see the water just start to peek over the steamer.

Layer your tamales standing up like soldiers, fill it to the top. Just make sure you can actually close the pot with the lid. Then I put a wet paper towel over the top of the tamales. I steamed mine for 1 hour. Enjoy!

Mexican Tamales

Masa recipe was used from Genius Kitchen



  • 1 LB boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • water for boiling

Chile Sauce

  • 6 ancho chiles
  • 4 New Mexico Chiles
  • water to reconstitue chiles
  • 1 red onion quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 TBS salt
  • 2 ladels of chicken broth reserved from cooked chicken
  • water for rinsing the inside of your blender
  • 1 tsp olive oil


  • cups masa harina flour
  • teaspoonbaking powder
  • teaspoon salt
  • cup vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
  • 1 tablespoon of reserved chile sauce
  • cups chicken broth reserved from your boiled chicken thighs


  1. In a pot of water over medium high heat place chicken thighs, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano , bring to a boil and cook  for 45 minutes until the chicken is cooked completely.
  2. Remove the seeds and tops from the chile ancho and new mexico chiles. Fill a small pot with water almost coming to the top and bring to a boil. Then turn off the heat and add the dried chiles to the bottle, with a lid cover the chiles for at least 10 minutes to reconstitute them.
  3. Once the chicken is ready, remove the chicken, onion and garlic out with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl.
  4. Shred the chicken and smash the garlic and onion to form a paste and add it back to the chicken.
  5. Drain the chiles and add to a blender, add red onion, garlic, cumin, oregano and salt, plus two ladle fulls of chicken stock from the boiled chicken.
  6. Blend until it becomes a smooth sauce. In a pot over medium high heat, add oil and pour your sauce into the hot pot. Add a splash of water into your blender and swirl it around to make sure you get all of the saucy goodness out. Cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Reserve 1 tablespoon of chile sauce to add to the masa, add the remainder of the sauce to the chicken and mix until combined.
  8. Melt you shortening. Mix all the ingredients of tamale dough in a kitchen aid mixer. I leave this mixing as long as I can, the longer you mix the more tender it will be. I recommend minimum 15 minutes.
  9. In a pot of warm tap water add your corn husks with a small plate over the corn husks, so that they reconstitute faster.
  10. I like to dry the corn husks slightly before adding the masa (3 tablespoons) then 1 tablespoon of chicken filling.
  11.  Fold the ends, so that the corn husk  covers all of the filling, then I like to cut off a piece length wise from a corn husk too small to use and I like to tie it to secure that the tamale is sealed correctly, continue doing this until you run out of masa.
  12. Place your steamer into a dutch oven and fill with water, you want the water slightly peaking through the steamer. Then roll up some foil and place in the center of the steamer basket.
  13. Crumble up some foil into a ball and place in the center of the steamer basket.
  14. Line up your tamales like soldiers, fill it to the top. Just be sure that you can cover the tamales with the lid.
  15. Place a damp paper towel over the top of the tamales and cook over medium high heat for 1 hour. Enjoy!

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