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Tamales, again

Posted by Jeanne on February 2, 2010

I have heard of people that wake up on Saturday morning and do things like savor their coffee and read newspapers, and who do not force their spouses into cooking projects before 9 AM.  Orangette has apparently also heard of these people.

I am not one of these people.  I am the kind of person who forces their spouse to help assemble a million tamales before heading to a birthday party for my awesome grandmother (who is apparently reading.  Hi Rosie!) on a Saturday morning.

Roasted butternut squash and chicken mole tamales


1 large or two very small butternut squash, cut into 0.5″ squares

Meat from one chicken breast, one chicken leg, and one chicken thigh, cooked and shredded

Half a container of mole sauce (premade), thinned out with about a cup of very hot water

Two chipotle peppers in adobo, finely diced (optional)

6 to 8 oz. queso fresco or other mild cheese (optional)

The dough recipe can be found in this post, along with assembly instructions.  I will repeat most of it here because I actually took some pictures this time!


4 cups masa mix (if you get the kind labeled “for tamales” follow the instructions on the package – it’ll already have leavening and likely salt)

2 tsp salt

1 TB baking powder

4 cups stock or water, warmed (I just used water this time)

1 cup vegetable shortening


3 or 4 dozen corn husks

One large slow cooker, or an extremely large pot with a steamer basket

Filling instructions:

Roast your cut-up squash on a large baking sheet with olive oil and salt & pepper about 40 minutes, until tender but not mushy.  Stir once during the cooking process.  I did this on Friday night while I was making dinner, and then let the squash hang out in the fridge until Saturday morning.

I made a whole chicken in the slow cooker overnight on Friday – this is the easiest thing ever.

1.  Place a whole chicken (giblets and neck removed) in a slow cooker.

2.  Add half a cup of chicken stock or water.

3.  Turn on low and go to bed.

On Saturday morning I shredded the meat and used half for this and the other half for this soup.

Chicken & squash, no sauce yet

Mix the squash, shredded chicken, mole sauce, and chipotles/cheese if you are using them until well combined.  Set aside until ready to assemble.

Dough Instructions:

Soak your corn husks in warm water until pliable – about 15 to 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix masa, salt and baking powder.  Add liquid and stir to combine (mixture will foam a bit and is quite thick).  Add vegetable shortening and mix until completely blended – I used a fork for this step.  Dough will be light and almost spongy in texture.

To assemble, gather dough, chicken, mole, soaked corn husks, and your cooking vessel – I used the slow cooker.

Lay a corn husk flat on the counter.  Take a handful of dough – about the size of a tennis ball, maybe a bit smaller – and spread on just one end of the corn husk.  The dough should be about 1/4 inch thick.

Add about one to two tablespoons of filling.

Fold the edges of the corn husk over so the dough wraps all the way around the filling, and fold up the end (the one without the filling in it!).

It’ll be open on the one end – stand up in the bottom of your cooking vessel on the folded end.

Repeat approximately one billion times (or 32 times for this batch) until all your filling is gone.

For the slow cooker, cook on high for 4 to 6 hours until done.  If you’re using a steamer, cook for about 2 hours.  You can tell they’re done when the corn begins to pull away from the husk.

Some of this batch got a little over-done around the edges – I think next time I would try and sneak about a cup of water into the bottom of the crock pot to keep this from happening. They still taste good, and now I have five bags (each with six tamales in it – we had to try some of them!) in the freezer for a later date.

It is a good thing we like tamales.

5 Responses to “Tamales, again”

  1. […] Tamales, again […]

  2. […] Once the beans are tender, you can use however you’d like – we’ll turn these black beans into a side to have with the last of the tamales. […]

  3. […] pork tamales + pintos and brown […]

  4. […] tamales, from freezer.  Black beans, tortilla chips, lots of […]

  5. […] followed this recipe for the dough, and we used cooked spiced chicken and cheddar cheese for the […]

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