Mexican Chicken Tamales/ Tamales De Pollo Recipe

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Mexican Chicken Tamales/ Tamales de Pollo

Juliann Esquivel


These tamales originate from Mexico City. A dear co-madre, of mine Estella Garcia, my 3rd child's Godmother shared her wonderful family recipe with me. She was from the D.F./Mexico City. This recipe is an old recipe of her great gandmothers time. This recipe will make about 30 to 35 tamales. They are delicious. On the day of my babies christening Estella arrived with two gifts a beautiful white christening outfit from Mexico for my baby and her wonderful chicken tamales. I fell in love with them. I am truly privileged to have her recipe. She is back in Mexico Gracias mi Co-madre Estella. Enjoy

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A Crowd


8 Hr


1 Hr 20 Min




5 lb
whole chicken cut into pieces, incl giblets skin & bone
2 & 1/2 gal
1 large
onion peeled and quartered
1 & 1/2 Tbsp
4 clove
fresh garlic smashed
4 sprig(s)
fresh cilantro
2 clove
only 2 spice cloves
1 large
bay leaf
1/2 tsp
cumin powder
~~~sauce with chicken~~~
4 to 5 lb
very large tomatoes broiled or roasted
3 clove
fresh garlic crushed through a garlic press
1 tsp
make sure it's a leval tsp. of cumin powder
6 Tbsp
chicken fat rendered from the chicken skin
2 large
sliced onions
3 large
green poblano peppers chared or roasted, remove chared skin, seeds, & core. cut each pepper into 8 strips after removing peel
1 tsp
freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp
salt and 1 teaspoonfull garlic powder
1 lb
lard or rendered chicken fat if you can find it. note: i have purchased chiken fat at a jewish deli
3 to 4 c
rich chicken broth
1 Tbsp
salt or a little more and black pepper to taste
3 lb
ground masa dough or maseca instant dough
~~~corn husks & making the tamales~~~
30 to 40 large
dried corn husks cleaned of corn silk and opened
3 gal
hot water to soak corn husks to soften them. this should be done at least 30 minutes prior to making the tamales. wring out and towel blot to get out excess moisture. keep covered so they do not dry out

Directions Step-By-Step

If you are planning to make these tamales it is a good idea a month or two in advance to start collecting all the skin from the chicken that you purchase and freeze in baggies. The flavor from the the fat of the rendered chicken skin is amazing ask any Jewish delicatessen. Delicious...When you have a sizeable amount about a pound or two take out defrost put into a large fry pan and slowely fry on medium until all of the fat has rendered out. Save the fat in a jar and store in a cool dry place until ready to use prefably in the fridge. The little cracklins or fried up chicken skin are super delish. If you are lucky enough to live in New York City you can find the chicken fat in jars ready to cook with.

On to the chicken. Put the giblets, and chicken parts into a very large soup pot add the water, onion, spice cloves, (2 only) bay leaf, cilantro, garlic and salt bring to a gentle boil. When boiling reduce heat and cook for 2 hours until chicken if falling of the bone. Shut off heat and let cool this should be done the day before. When cool enough to handle remove chicken from bone discard skin and bones and livers. Shredd chicken and dice giblets store in a large container and set aside in the refrigerator. When the chicken broth is cool enough to handle strain and store in the fridge as well there should be enough for at least 6 to 8 cups. If you are going to be short you can add store bought broth such as college Inn or Swanson. Note: If you are planning to make your tamales today then clean and remove all the corn silk from the corn husks now and put into a deep pot with very hot water to soak. weight them down with a heavy object so the will be under water. Leave saoking until ready fore use. About forty to fifty large corn husks should be enough soaking. If you will be making the tamales tomorrow then do this step firt before anything else. soaking the husks first & leave in the water until ready for use.
The Sauce, rinse and dry tomatoes. Take a large cookie sheet spray pam or spread a little canola oil on the cookie sheet. Rub tomatoes with a little canola oil and put under the broiler. I know I did not mention this in the ingredients but sometimes I take one medium seeded jalapeno and char with the tomatoes just for a little kick (only one)You can also char your 3 large poblano peppers at this time with the tomatoes. Sometimes depending on the weather i will char everything out on my grill. Turning until I have an even char on all the veggies. when done seperate the tomatoes from the poblanos cover the poblanos and let them sweat for a while like 30 minutes. Take your tomatoes skin and all and put into a blender with the garlic and the spices and jalapeno if using, and blend until you have a nice semi smooth sauce. Now into a deep fry pan or deep pot heat your chicken fat and add your sliced onions saute until translucent about 4 minutes. Next add the blended sauce and saute on medium high heat until somewhat reduced. Season again after tasting the sauce salt and pepper and add your shredded chicken. I like to add a little more cumin powder, and garlic powder to this just a sprinkle for added flavor even though i do not have the extra spice sprinkle in the above ingredients recipe. Thats just the way I cook. After the 30 minutes have passed take out the sweated poblanos carefully remove the chared skin and slice open remove the seeds and the core. Slice each poblano into 8 strips and set aside. To make the removal of the charred skin a little easier use a paper towel and wipe the skin away ferom the pepper. Do not rinse under water. you will wash away the delicious grilled flavor of the pepper. Save for the assemble of the tamales.
Mixing the Masa. If you have a heavy duty electric mixer such as an artisan mixer by Kitchen Aide use your dough hook. First beat the lard or chicken fat fora about 4 or 5 minutes it is good to beat enough air into the fat.(It makes for a fluffier tamale) The lard will turn an off white when this happens begin to add the masa or maseca alternately with very warm cupfulls of the strained chicken broth do this until your masa is of a thick creamy consistency like a thick creamy polenta. The masa or Maseca corn mixture should be tasted to see if it has enough salt. Set aside you are now eady to assemble your tamales.
Making the tamales. Remove your husks from the soaking water and towel blot dry. Cover with dish towels so they do not dry out. Take a butter knife and spread a fairly good tablespoon and a half of masa on a corn husk. spread to the bottom half of the husk leaving the the top half that looks like a triangle clean. Spread as if spreading a little less than a 1/4 inch of masa on the corn husk. Do not spread all the way to the ends leave a little space on each side. Next take a nice size heaping tablespoon of warm chicken sauce with chicken and lay down the middle of the or center of the husk be generous putting enough chicken and sauce in the tamale. Now take one slice of you prepaired poblano stips and lay across the chicken. Fold one side of the husk over the other so that the masea is completely coverd then take the top part (the pointed end and fold back down behind the back of the tamale. This will secure the tamale and less chance of it opening. lay seam down until you have done all of them this way. Stack the tamales in a tamle steamer or a pot fitted with an inverted bowl on the botton and a multi preforated pie tin or circular preforated screen to stack your tamales on. I remeber my grandmother improvising and setting a large mug in the middle of the screen and stacking the tamales open end always standing up and leaning a little to a slant against the mug and positioning all her tamales in a cicular position around the mug. She always made sure the water was very hot water almost boiling in the bottom of the pot or steamer. Remember these tamales never touch the water they steam and never get emersed in water. Steam for about an hour and 15 minutes Test to see if the tamales are done if the dough seperates easy from the husk the tamles are done.

Freeze in bags of 6 or 12. They freeze well. To re heat frozen tamales steam again in a steamer for 15 to 20 minutes or heat in the microwave. Enjoy.
PS I have no photo of these at this time. I have not made since last year. When I make I will upload a picture of them. They look almost exactly as the pork tamales i have posted only these are made with chicken and the sauce is not as dark as the pork tamales. ood luck everyone. Enjoy.

About this Recipe

Main Ingredient: Chicken
Regional Style: Mexican