New Year’s Tamales

January 9, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Posted in Dinner | 11 Comments

Woooooot. How was that first Monday of work for ya’ll? Mine was a doozy. I have a feeling this year is going to be full of hard work and lots of hard exercising. But I am up for the challenge!!!! And this is evident by the 5 hour long cooking challenge I took on last Monday. I made tamales people!!!!!! And I took two of them to Abuelita’s this past Saturday and she proclaimed them very good.


How bout that skill??? I am fully turning into the future awesome Mexican grandma that I want to become someday.  So my roommate, her sister, and friends from church all settled down in our cozy family room to spend the day watching Jim Carrey movies. It was great and so was our meal. So go for the jump to see more of this process and the delicious poblano, spinach and queso fresco rice dish I made to accompany our meal.

I started the cooking pretty early in the morning. Roasted 5 poblanos on the stove… very much fun.


Got the corn husks reconstituting in warm water…


I set out the ingredients for some of the tamale fixins…


Then I peeled the charred flesh off of said poblanos… This part is pretty yucky, but necessary.


Oh and the whole time I was doing all of these things? I boiled a chicken, with some chunks of onion, bay leaves, garlic cloves, celery, fresh thyme, and peppercorns. Boiled for 1 hour, then let it rest in the liquid for 30 minutes and then let it rest on a cutting board for another 30 minutes. Then I had the fun task of pulling all of that chicken apart. This is where I was really channeling my future abuelita self. That chicken really produced a lot of meat! After I pulled, I cooked a whole minced onion with some raisins and diced up can of green olives until soft and then mixed that with the pulled chicken until all was flavorful and ready.


Oh and another thing I was doing in the meantime?? Getting the tamale masa ready to go. I boiled 20 guajillo peppers (previously de-seeded) in 2 cups of chicken broth and then pulverized that in the blender. I took about 5 cups of tamale masa with 2 tsp of baking powder and slowly incorporated it into 2 cups of lard and about 2 cups of broth. The texture should get to a slightly wet kind of cookie dough consistency… add more masa or more water depending… My trusty Rick Bayless cookbook said that a teaspoon of dough should float in a cup of cold water. Mine never floated. :/ But grandma didn’t say anything about the texture, so I figured I was good!

So to construct these I smeared a good 1/4 cup of dough on a corn husk, then topped it with another 1/4 cup of chicken mixture and topped it with fresh cilantro and some canned jalapeno slices. Then I rolled it all up and secured the ends with thin strips of corn husk so it resembled a candy.


And candy it was!! I made about 20 of these and set them in the fridge to keep until it was close to dinnertime.  When that time came, I got my tamale cooker (really a big pot with a “holey-shelf” about 3 inches up. I put some pennies in the bottom so I could hear if the boiling water was ever getting too low. I boiled my tamales for an hour. Could have gone 1 hr and 15 minutes, but I was too impatient!

So oh yeah the other thing we ate! Beautiful fresh queso fresco that I had shredded up.


My weekly purchase of Club Saver Wegmans spinach. Love me some spinach! It’s the only green that will keep more than 2 days in my fridge!


And then boom the rice was done! Psych… See below for the recipe. It was the perfect filling thing to serve a group of people. The spinach and poblanos upped the healthiness factor and the queso fresco helped with the flavor portion.


Ingredients: (I bumped mine up by a third)
3 medium fresh poblano chiles
2 cups chicken broth or water (I used broth)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
1.5 cups white rice, preferably medium grain
1 small white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
3 cups loosely packed sliced stemmed spinach leaves
1.5 cups coarsely crumbled Mexican queso fresco

1) Roast the chiles over a gas flame. Once all the skin is charred, approximately 5 minutes, transfer to a bowl and cover for 10 minutes. Remove the skins, seeds, and stems, rinse, and chop into 1/4 inch pieces.
2) Heat broth in a small saucepan. (I did it in the microwave)
3) In a separate 3-qt saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. At onions and raw rice; stir regularly for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for a few seconds. Make sure the grains of rice do not brown.
4) Add the warm liquid and chopped roasted chiles. Stir, cover, and cook on the lowest heat setting for about 15 minutes.
5) Remove the pot from the heat and add spinach, distributing it over the rice, but not stirring. Cover the pot and let is stand for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, test the rice. Mine was done and all of the liquid was absorbed, but if this isn’t the case for you, Rick suggests sprinkling 2 tbsp water on top of the rice and returning it to low heat, covered, for 5 minutes.
6) Uncover the rice, sprinkle with cheese, and fluff everything together with a fork.

Stay tuned this week for some more Spanish food and the first meal of the year that I shared with Bethany Kelly and Laurita!



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  1. These look amazing! I seriously have a craving now. Thanks!

    • You are so welcome!! Ha. My friend Becca just called up and said the same thing after reading my post. 😀

  2. Looks like you got the year off to a delicious start.

  3. Wow, quite impressive!

  4. OOOOH that looks wunderbar. I knew I should have made the drive. That rice may be my dinner tonight, I have some hatch chiles frozen from last summer that would be awesome in it.

    • Yes you should have!!! Oh well. I will make them again. They aren’t thatttt bad. Yes that will be a good dinner!

  5. Wow, you’re quite the accomplished Mexican! My roomie Jacky (also Mexican!) just got Rick Bayless cookbook for Xmas. Her fiancee made the chipotle black beans and they are SO good. Inspiring. And I’ve never had tamales, save for once way back in college- I think I gotta ask Jacky for some!

    Oh, most importantly, which movies did you watch??

    • Yeah get her to make them!!!! So we watched Ace Ventura, Dumb & Dumber and Liar Liar!

  6. […] make tamales!!! We had a great poblano & chorizo appetizer, asado de plaza with frijoles, the tamales, and green cupcakes and brownies and ice cream for dessert. Did I ever tell you my familia likes to […]

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