The Daring Cooks January 2012 Challenge

I am terribly late posting this challenge. Actually couple of weeks late. I bought all the ingredients for the challenge quite early but had a very hectic couple of weeks at work. But then I had to ultimately make the Tamales. I am actually surprised that I haven’t eaten tamales at a restaurant before. I actually loved the end result of this challenge and though it seems like a lot of effort, it isn’t a lot of work. Once the filling is prepared, the dough hardly takes any time. In fact Amit helped with the final putting together of the tamales. This recipe makes about 24 tamales.

Maranda of Jolts & Jollies was our January 2012 Daring Cooks hostess with the mostess! Maranda challenged us to make traditional Mexican Tamales as our first challenge of the year!

Note: If you use a traditional masa mixture (white corn flour, not to be confused with corn starch) you will need to add baking powder and salt for the Green Chile Chicken Tamales. Some masa mixtures can be purchased with the baking powder and salt already included.

If you cannot find corn husks, you can use parchment paper or plastic wrap.

Preparation Time:

Soaking the corn husks: 3 hours or up to 1 day
For the filling: 50-60 mins
For the masa: 10 minutes
Preparation and cooking: 2 hours (depending on how quickly you become at pressing and rolling the dough + steaming time)


  1. 1 – 8 ounce (225 gram) package dried corn husks (If you cannot find corn husks, you can use parchment paper or plastic wrap.)
For filling:
  1. 1 pound (455 gram) tomatillos (can sub mild green chilies – canned or fresh)
  2. 4 – 3 inch (7½ cm) serrano chiles, stemmed and chopped (can sub jalapeno)
  3. 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  4. 1 ½ tablespoons (22½ ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  5. 2 cups (480 ml) low sodium chicken broth
  6. 4 cups (960 ml) (400 gm/14 oz) cooked and shredded chicken
  7. 2/3 cup (160 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) roughly chopped fresh cilantro (also known as coriander)
For the masa dough:
  1. 1 1/3 cups (320 ml) (265 gm/9⅓ oz) lard or vegetable shortening
  2. 1 ½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (10 gm/1/3 oz) salt (omit if already in masa mixture)
  3. 1 ½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (8 gm/¼ oz) baking powder (omit if already in masa mixture)
  4. 4 cups (960 ml) (480 gm/17 oz) masa harina (corn tortilla mix), I used instant masa mix
  5. 1 ½-2 cups (360 ml – 480 ml) low sodium chicken broth


For the Filling
  • Place the dried corn husks in a large pot and cover with water.
  • Place a heavy plate or a smaller pot full of water on top of husks to keep them in the water. Let soak for 3 hours or up to 1 day, flipping occasionally until husks are softened.
  • Once husks are softened, boil chicken about 20 minutes or until fully cooked.
  • Immediately place hot chicken into the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Turn mixer on high to shred chicken (this takes about 3-5 seconds).
  • Place an oven rack on the top setting. Turn the oven on broil. Peel and rinse the tomatillos.
  • Line a heavy baking sheet with foil. Place tomatillos on baking sheet and place under broiler.
  • Broil (grill) until black spots form on tomatillos, then flip and broil (grill) other side. This takes about 5-10 minutes per side depending on the strength of the broiler.
  • Place roasted tomatillos and juices from the pan into a food processor and allow to cool about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chopped Serrano chiles and process until smooth.
  • Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat.
  • Add the tomatillo puree and boil, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes (it should turn thick like a paste).
  • Add in the chicken broth, stir to mix well. Reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until mixture coats the back of a spoon and is reduced to about a cup (240 ml).
  • Stir in the chicken and cilantro. Salt to taste.
  • Prepare the dough. In the bowl of an electric mixer, on medium high heat, cream together the lard or vegetable shortening, baking powder and salt.

For the Dough
  • Mix in the masa harina, one cup (240 ml) at a time.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low, gradually add in 1 ½ cups (360 ml) of the chicken broth.
  • If the mixture seems too thick (you can taste it for moistness) add up to ½ cup (120 ml) more of the broth 2 tablespoons (30 ml) at a time. (The dough should be a cookie dough like texture).
  • Take 3 large corn husks and tear them into ¼ inch (6 mm) strips. (I would suggest you put these back in the water until use because they dry out and start breaking when you try to work with them.
  • Take a large pot with a steamer attachment. Pour about 2 inches (5 cm) of water into the bottom of the pot, or enough to touch the bottom of the steamer. Line the bottom of the steamer with corn husks.
  • Unfold 2 corn husks onto a work surface. Take ¼ cup (60 ml) of dough and, starting near the top of the husk, press it out into a 4 inch (10 cm) square, leaving 2-3 inches (5 -7½ cm) at the bottom of the husk. Place a heaping tablespoon (15 ml) of the filling in a line down the center of the dough square.
  • Fold the dough into the corn husk.
  • And wrap the husk around the dough.
  • Fold up the skinny bottom part of the husk.
  • And secure it with one of the corn husk ties.
  • Stand them up in the steamer. If there aren’t enough tamales to tightly pack the steamer, place crumpled aluminum foil in the excess space.
  • Steam the tamales for about 40 minutes or until the dough deepens in color and easily pulls away from the husk.

I was very wary about whether we would like Tamales. Specially since we have never eaten them before. But I am going to make these pretty often at home. We loved it. And I am definitely going to try some tamales at a authentic Mexican restaurant so that I know how it is supposed to taste. I am pretty sure this is pretty close to the real deal, after all it’s a daring cooks challenge recipe! I hope you do try it too. I am very sure you will love it too.


    • shilpamshinde says:

      Oh n they are real easy to make… Did not think so before I started making them…. They are delicious and my head is spinning thinking about the innumerable fillings I can try out…

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