This tamales verdes recipe brings together shredded chicken and sautéed onions in a flavorful green sauce made with tangy tomatillos and mildly spicy Poblano chili, surrounded by a corn flour dough — all wrapped in a corn husk for steaming.
Course: Main Dish
Author: Eugenia Cárdenas
Stand Mixer with Whisk Attachment
Steamer with Basket
For the Tamales
1Package of corn husks
1cupVegetable shorteningRoom temperature
½cupChicken brothMade in this recipe
½cupVegetable brothMade in this recipe
2cupsCorn flour (also called masa harina, masa flour, or Maseca brand)
For the Tamale Filling
1Chicken breast, cooked and shredded
Soak the Corn Husks
First you’ll soak the corn husks so they soften up and will be easier to fold. Place the corn husks in a large pot of hot water.
Press the husks into the water to ensure they’re completely covered.
Soak the husks for 20 minutes, drain and set aside to dry.
Prepare Chicken and Broth
Thinly slice the white onion. Stack a few slices at a time, cut slices into quarters and set aside.
Slice and dice the garlic.
Cut the chicken breast into 1-inch chunks.
Heat a pot over medium-high heat and pour in the olive oil.
Add the onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Add salt, then the garlic and cook until onions are soft.
Sprinkle the chicken with salt. Stir and cook over medium heat until the chicken has browned.
Next, pour in the water to cover the chicken and vegetables completely. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. The broth will darken as the chicken cooks.
Drain the chicken and vegetables and reserve the chicken broth for use in the masa.
Separate the chicken and the vegetables into different plates and finely shred the chicken with your hands.
Set aside the chicken and onions for the filling.
Make the Salsa
Slice and quarter the tomatillos.
Slice the Poblano chili lengthwise, remove the veins and seeds, and cut into 1-inch slices.
Place the tomatillo quarters and the Poblano chili slices into a pot of water and add salt.
Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables change color.
Once cooked, drain the veggies by pressing into the strainer to be sure you remove all the broth. Reserve the broth to use in the Make the Masa step below.
Pour the drained vegetables into your blender and blend until smooth.
Prepare the Filling
Pour the shredded chicken into a large bowl and add the onions.
Next, pour the salsa over the chicken and onion mixture and stir to combine. Your filling is now ready!
Make the Masa
Place your room-temperature vegetable shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Alternatively you could use a hand mixer or beat by hand.
Beat until light and fluffy.
Pour the baking powder into the bowl with the shortening.
Then add the corn flour.
Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of salt and mix until combined.
Pour in about ½ cup of the reserved vegetable broth from the Make the Salsa step above and mix until combined. Note that the liquid measurements are just a guide. Keep an eye on the dough to ensure it’s not too wet or crumbly.
Pour in ½ cup of the chicken broth little by little, being careful not to add too much liquid.
Mix until combined. The dough should be spongy, not wet. Follow the next step to test the texture of your masa. If you’ve added too much liquid, you can balance out the dough with more corn flour.
Test the Masa
Fill a glass with warm water and take a small chunk of the masa from the mixing bowl.
Drop the masa into the glass of water. If it floats, your masa is perfect! If not, beat in a little more shortening for about a minute and then test again.
Assemble Your Tamales
Take your corn husks and cut straight across the top or bottom edge.
When you unfold the husk, the top edge should be wide and straight, and the bottom edge longer.
Lay a corn husk flat in your hand with the straight, wide edge facing toward you. With the other hand, scoop about 2 to 3 tablespoons of masa into the husk.
Spread the masa evenly about ⅔ across the straight edge of the husk and halfway down. You’ll need the empty space to fold the tamales over.
Scoop about a tablespoon of chicken filling and place on top of the masa in the husk. Spread evenly in the center of the dough.
Fold over one half of the corn husk toward the center to cover the filling, then fold over the other half.
Fold the bottom of the corn husk under your tamale. You now have a perfectly folded tamale!
Place your folded tamale in a plate and repeat with the remaining corn husks.
Steam Your Tamales
Add a few cups of water to a steamer pot and heat until the water is hot.
Tip: Once the water is hot, drop a few coins in. If you hear the coins rattling as you heat your tamales, that means there’s enough water in the pot. Once the coins stop rattling, it’s time to add more water to the pot.
You’re now ready to place the steamer rack in the pot and heat your tamales. Alternatively you could use a stockpot with a steamer basket as long as you can get a good seal when you cover your pot.
Place your tamales into the steamer upright with the open part of the husk at the top, being careful not to crush them.
Once you’ve added all of your tamales to the steamer, cover and steam over medium heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until cooked. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Serve and Eat Your Tamales!
Your tamales are now ready to eat! Serve with a side of white rice or beans, or eat them as they are. Enjoy!
You can freeze your uncooked tamales in freezer bag to eat later for up to six months. When ready to eat, thaw and steam as directed in the recipe.