Red Chile Chicken & Cotija Tamales
WHAT YOU NEED
- 1 package Cacique Cotija, finely grated
- 5 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 white onion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 30 Dried corn husks
- Cacique Crema Mexicana, for garnish
- 3 1/4 cups instant corn masa flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 1/4 cups chicken broth
- Large capacity double boiler or tamale steamer
HOW TO MAKE IT
- CORN HUSK PREPARATION: Place corn husks in a large bowl, cover with boiling water, and soak for at least 1 hour, remove excess water and pat each husk dry.
- MASA PREPARATION:: In a large bowl, add the instant corn masa flour, salt and baking powder. Mix together with a fork. Add in the oil and broth. Mix everything together using your hands until the mixture forms a wet dough. Cover the dough with paper towel and set aside to rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the filling.
- FILLING PREPARATION: Toast the chiles on both sides in a dry skillet over medium heat until pliable, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cover with boiling water; let stand until soft, about 30 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the soaking water and drain the rest. Puree the chiles, reserved water, garlic, onion, oregano and cumin in a blender until smooth. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat until hot. Add the chile puree and fry, stirring until very thick and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth and 1 teaspoon of salt, then add the chicken. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, partially covered, turning the chicken occasionally, until cooked through, about 35 minutes.
- TAMALE PREPARATION: Prepare one husk at a time by placing the husk on your open palm with the pointy side facing away from you, smear a heaping spoonful of masa on the husk, from side to side and all the way to the edges, leaving about 3 inches of the bottom of the husk untouched for folding. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the chicken mixture onto the masa and add ½ tablespoon of grated Cotija. Fold 1/3 of the husk to the left, fold 1/3 to the right, overlapping, and gently fold the pointy edge over the top to create a small rectangle. Repeat this process until you have 30 tamales.
- TAMALE STEAMING: If using a tamale steamer, add adequate room temperature water, set the steamer grate. Place the formed tamales, vertically and upside down, tightly packed. Once you complete the first layer of tightly packed tamales you may begin a second layer of tamales placed horizontally. Cover and steam over medium high heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, check water level at 45 minutes (note: in a tamale steamer you will hear water boiling, if water is low gently add additional hot water on the side of the pot, trying to not add water over the tamales). Remove one of the tamale to check for doneness. Tamale is cooked when dough separates from the husk when unwrapping. Warm the reserved sauce, serve on the side and garnish with Crema Mexicana.