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Tamale How-To

Posted By Andi Bidwell
When someone retires from our staff, we usually ask them to turn in files to their manager, for the projects they have been working on. But when Livia (a beloved kitchen technician) retired after 36 ½ years of service, we asked her to teach our staff how to make her recipe for Chicken Tamales with Adobo Sauce.

On the morning of her retirement party, Livia arranged the ingredients to make her tamales on trays, and brought them to a large room where she could conduct a class for us. What began as a demonstration class turned into a participation class for around 25 staff members.

We learned how to spread a small amount of tamale dough on a corn husk, place a bit of the chicken filling in the center over the dough and fold up and tie the corn husk around the chicken-filled tamale dough.  It was a good thing there were so many interested in taking Livia’s class because in the end, we wanted to make enough to serve at her retirement party at the end of the day.

I found Livia in the test kitchens, soaking corn husks in water, which she does for at least 30 minutes before using them. She made “strings” by shredding a few of the husks and soaked those too.  She places torn-up corn husks at the bottom of a Dutch oven to prevent the tamales from burning while they are steaming.  Doesn’t she look happy to be retiring?!

Learn How to make Chicken Tamales

She showed us how to make the tamale dough using instant corn masa, shortening, salt, chicken bouillon granules, baking powder and chicken broth.

Next, Livia made a chicken filling seasoned with: onion, chipotle chiles, garlic, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and oregano leaves.

Place about 3 tablespoons of the tamale dough on a corn husk and make an indentation in the center of it.

Chicken Tamales

Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the chicken filling into the indentation.

Chicken Tamales

Roll dough around filling.

Chicken Tamales

Fold bottom 1/3 of corn husk over filling; fold sides in towards center. Twist the top slightly; tie with corn husk strings.

Chicken Tamales

Place tamales on the shredding husks at the bottom of the Dutch oven.

Chicken Tamales

After watching Livia making a couple of tamales, we all got to “try our hand” at making some tamales too. You know what they say about practice……… and now I must confess that our first attempts at rolling the filling around the dough and folding and tying the husks weren’t perfect. But the more we made, the better each one looked. Here are Adriana and Kathy, getting some help from Livia.

Chicken Tamales

Look at how many tamales fit into one 5-quart Dutch oven.

Chicken Tamales

After steaming the tamales for about an hour, let them stand for 20 minutes before serving. To serve, unfold each tamale by removing the string and opening the husk. Spoon reserved sauce over each tamale. (Please note: in the Spanish language, a “tamal” is the singular spelling but since we are sharing this recipe in a U.S. market, we have chosen to use the more familiar Americanized spelling of “tamale”.)

Livia

Livia, we will miss you! But thanks to you, we will enjoy making your tamales.


The authentic flavor in these tamales comes from the corn masa in the dough and the corn husks they are steamed in. The chipotle chiles in adobo sauce give the chicken filling a slightly smoky taste.
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Filled with cheese from Oaxaca Mexico, sautéed onion and sliced jalapeño chiles , these vegetarian tamales have lots of flavor.
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Tamale How-To 

Livia Calvo from the Betty Crocker Kitchens shares her favorite family recipe from her native Peru: Chicken Tamales with Adobo Sauce.

Watch the Full Size Video 


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