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Start your own tasty tamale tradition this season

While they all might look the same, tamales can vary greatly on the inside. It’s all up to the chef, and almost every family that makes this a holiday tradition has its own secret recipe.

Nothing says the holidays in Texas like a steaming basket of tamales. Pull apart the corn husks to reveal a delightful mix of corn, meats and sauces; then enjoy.

Tamales originated in Mesoamerica about 10,000 years ago. The delicious filling wrapped in resilient corn husks made them portable, so they were useful for ancient civilizations. Tamales were often made in bulk and sent to feed armies, hunters and travelers alike.

Tamales come in a variety of flavors, though they all look the same. Traditional tamales are filled with a corn dough base, mixed pork or chicken and red or green salsa. Sugar, raisins, olives, refried beans, chocolate or dried fruit are sometimes thrown in as well. The range of spiciness fluctuates according to the chef’s preference.

It takes time and hard work to make a great tamale, so while they can be enjoyed year-round, the preparation is typically reserved for feasts and festivals. Thus, the popularity of tamales at yuletide.

Making tamales together as a family is a Hispanic tradition that goes back for generations. It’s not just about the tamale; it’s about connecting with a culture, bonding with loved ones and creating lasting memories.

Ready to try it out yourself? Here’s a recipe for basic chicken tamales from HEB.com.

INGREDIENTS

(Serves 24 people)

1 package of Azteca corn husks

4 cup(s) H‑E‑B reduced‑sodium chicken broth, hot

1¼ cup canola oil

1 tbsp. of baking powder

7 cups of corn masa mix

1/8 tsp. kosher salt

1/8 tsp pepper

4 12-ounce containers of H‑E‑B fully cooked shredded chicken

PREPARATON

• Soak corn shucks in hot water for 30 minutes; drain and set aside.

• Combine broth, oil, baking powder, masa mix, salt and pepper with an electric mixer; mix for 2‑3 minutes to thicken; set aside.

• Prepare filling of choice (i.e. H‑E‑B fully cooked shredded chicken); set aside.

• To assemble, spread 2‑3 tablespoons of masa on smooth side of corn husk.

• Place 1‑2 tablespoons of filling in the center of the masa.

• Fold sides of husks in toward the center; fold tail toward center.

• Place tamales tail side down on a sheet pan until ready to steam.

• To steam tamales, place 2 inches of water in a steamer pot.

• Place tamales, tail side down in basket. Don't overcrowd tamales. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 2 hours or until the corn shuck pulls away from the masa.

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