Chile Verde, or green chile, chicken tamales are one of the most popular kinds of tamales that Mexican and Mexican American families like mine serve during the holidays, especially on Christmas Eve. Most of the time, the tamales are served with rice, beans, crema to cut the heat, and a warm mug of creamy champurrado. It’s a classic holiday meal!
The best thing about these chicken tamales is that the filling can be used in many ways and is easy to make. All you need is time to put the tamales together and a little patience while the tamales steam.
The best tip for making Tamales taste the best
The tamales’ wonderful flavor comes from the chile Verde. To make it, finely cut tomatillos, serrano and jalapeno peppers, cilantro, and onions. To remove some liquid, strain the salsa through a fine mesh screen. The residual pulp is only used in the filling. This prevents the tamales from becoming soggy. They’ll be precisely seasoned and cooked evenly.
Dried Corn Husks for Tamales: Where to Buy and Store
Dried maize husks are often sold in bags containing 50 husks. That will make 20 to 24 tamales. The remaining husks are used to line the steamer and tamales while they are cooking, as well as to pull strips for tying the tamales. Look for husks that are clean and devoid of debris, with no holes.
Unused husks can be stored in a dry area for up to a year, so only wash the husks you intend to use—there is no need to soak the entire bag. You must use it once it is wet.
How to Prepare Tamales with Pork or Chicken
This is a recipe for chicken tamales, but you can also use a pig. I suggest using pork shoulder diced into big chunks. According to the instructions, boil the pork for 1 hour and 45 minutes with the onion and salt, but add a bay leaf, a few cloves of garlic, and six black peppercorns. The pork must be soft enough to shred easily. The remaining instructions are identical!
Best Method for Reheating Tamales
I suggest reheating leftovers in the microwave, with or without the husk, until thoroughly warm. This is certainly the easiest method for reheating tamales. How do I reheat tamales most frequently? On a comal or pan, cook until the husk is gently browned. Crispy edges will form on the tamale. Afterward, a fried egg is added. It is THE finest!
How to Plan in Advance for a Big Party
Do you need to make tamales ahead of time, or are you making a lot of them for a party? Assemble the tamales up to three months in advance, wrap each one in parchment paper, and freeze them uncooked in zip-top freezer bags. Steam the tamales a day before you want to serve them, cooking them straight from the freezer with the parchment paper wrap still on. Simply add an hour to the cooking time.
- 1 package of corn husks (8 ounces)
- 2 1/2 pounds of chicken breasts without bones or skin
- 1 medium white onion, peeled and cut in half, split
- 10 cups of water
- 3 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1 1/2 pounds of tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed, and roughly chopped
- 7 serrano peppers with the stems removed and chopped roughly
- 1 jalapeno pepper, stems removed and roughly chopped
- 3 peeled cloves of garlic
- Small bunch of cilantro, which is about 1 1/2 cups packed in tightly.
- 6 cups masa for tamales
- Crema or souring cream
- Crumbled Cotija cheese
- Cilantro, chopped roughly
Recipe: Chicken Tamales with Chile Verde
1. Soak the husks of corn:
Rinse the corn husks well under running warm water to get rid of any dirt, but be careful not to tear them. Put the washed husks in a large bowl and cover them with warm water. Use a heavy bowl or plate to press down on the husks so they stay under the water. I use my molcajete’s tejolote. Soak the husks for at least 2 hours to make them soft and easy to work with.
2. Prepare the chicken:
In a medium pot or Dutch oven over high heat, mix the chicken, half of the onion (save the other half for the green chile), 10 cups of water, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium and cook the chicken, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Use a big spoon to remove any foam that rises to the top. Take the pot off the burner.
Put the chicken on a large plate with tongs, and when it’s cool enough to handle, shred it with your hands. Cover it and put it away.
Pour the chicken stock through a colander into a bowl or jar, and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Throw away the onion. Masa can be made with chicken stock.
3. Make the chile Verde:
While the chicken is cooking, you can make green chile. Add the tomatillos, serrano, and jalapeno peppers, garlic, cilantro, the other half of the chopped onion, and 2 teaspoons of salt to a blender or food processor. Blend or pulse it until it’s finely chopped. You don’t want big chunks or a smoothie-like consistency. Depending on how big your blender or food processor is, you may need to do this in two batches.
Pour the salsa through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and throw away the liquid. Using a spoon, you can push the liquid through the sieve. Keep only the pulp; this is your green chile.
4. Put the tamales together:
Get ready to put the tamales together: You’ll need the husks that have been soaked (keep them in the water), the masa, the chicken that has been pulled apart, and the chile Verde.
Put a husk on a flat surface, smooth side up and pointy side away from you. Take about 1/3 cup of masa and use a spoon to spread it on the wider bottom half of the husk, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the bottom and side edges. In the middle of the masa, put about a third of a cup of shredded chicken and two tablespoons of green chile. If your husk is small, you might have to use less masa, chicken, and green chile.
The tamale can be folded in two ways:
- First, you can fold the husk in half lengthwise. Then fold it in half lengthwise again. Fold the pointy end towards the wider end, and tie a strip of corn husk around the tamale to keep it folded.
- The other option is to fold one of the long sides over the filling, but not all the way to the other side. Then fold the other long side over it and fold the pointy end toward the wider end. Wrap a strip of corn husk around the tamale to secure it.
I like the first choice because it’s simpler. Also, the cooked tamale is easier to unwrap. Both ways are fine; it just depends on what you prefer.
Repeat until you’ve used all of the masa and filling. About 24 tamales will be made.
5. Get the steamer ready:
Fill a large steamer pot with water up to the fill line, or about 3 inches up the sides. On top, put the steamer basket. This is the steamer I own, but you can use any large pot that can be used to steam food.
Stack husks in the bottom of the steamer basket. If your steamer is big like mine, put a heat-safe bowl in the middle and turn it upside down. This will help make sure that the tamales don’t fall over. Put the tamales in the steamer basket so that they are standing up and leaning against each other, the bowl (if you are using one), and the pot. Cover the tamales with any leftover corn husks and then a clean kitchen towel. Put the lid on the pot on tight.
6. Prepare the tamales:
Use medium-high heat to cook the tamales. Set the timer for 90 minutes when the water boils. Every 15 minutes, check on the water to make sure it hasn’t all evaporated. You may need to add more hot water.
Turn off the heat after 90 minutes and let the tamales rest in the steamer for 20 minutes.
To see if a tamale is ready, carefully take it out of the pot with tongs and unwrap it. The husk should come off the masa easily.
Serve the tamales with a dollop of crema, a sprinkle of cotija cheese, and chopped cilantro.
Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to four days. The best way to warm up tamales is in the microwave.
Tamales that have been cooked can be frozen for about 6 months. Let the tamales cool down completely after cooking. Then, put them in freezer bags with zip-tops to store them.