I’ve been wanting to make my own tamales for quite a while now. This is another one of those foods that I miss a lot from my years living in Texas.
They are very difficult to come by here in Wisconsin. You pretty much have to go to a Mexican restaurant to get them, unlike in Texas, you can get them just about anywhere by the dozens.
After reading many different recipes online, I soon discovered that traditional tamale recipes are full of either lard or a large quantity of vegetable oil, and typically uses a fatty cut of meat. Typically, 1 tamale is anywhere from 250 to 400 calories. By using canola oil, and a leaner cut of meat, this recipe will be closer to about 100 to 150 calories per tamale.
So, enjoy, because these tamales are delicious, and just what I’ve been craving!
A Healthier Chicken Tamale Recipe
- 18 corn husks
- 3 1/2 cups boiled and shredded chicken
- 1/3 onion (finely chopped)
- 1 1/3 cup water (from boiling the chicken)
- 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 4 Tablespoons Taco seasoning
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons corn starch
- 1 Tablespoon cold water
- 4 cups masa (no salt added)
- 6 teaspoons canola oil
- 4 cups hot water
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Before starting, place your corn husks in water and allow them to soak for about 2 hours. Once they are completely soaked and pliable, completely rinse and tear them into even widths of about 7 to 8 inches wide.
- Boil enough chicken breasts (about 5) to render 3 1/2 cups of shredded chicken. (You can shred it with a fork, or chop it in a food processor for smaller pieces).
- Add in the finely chopped onion and mix well.
- In a small saucepan, put the 1 cup of water from the boiled chicken, the bouillon, lime juice and the taco seasoning together and stir over a low heat.
- Dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water, then add that to the saucepan and stir until it thickens to the consistency you want. Note: It needs to be thick enough to make a thin gravy to mix with the chicken.
- Pour the sauce together with the shredded chicken and thoroughly mix. Set this aside.
- Mix the masa, garlic powder, salt and pepper together. Add in the canola oil and mix completely. Note: This will still be very dry.
- Mix the hot water in 1 cup at a time. Mix by hand. It should end up as a very moldable and pliable consistency.
Assembling the Tamales
- Rather than trying to explain in words how to spread the masa, fill it, and roll it, I found an awesome short video that shows a great way to do this. How to Wrap a Tamale
A few notes to add to the video:
- Wax paper will work well as the sheet for laying over the masa. Spreading with just your fingers works very well too once you get the feel for it.
- I recommend that you spread the masa as thin as you can. A little thinner than the video shows.
- I pulled strips from one of the husks to use as a tie to hold the fold together. This helps if you aren't completely filling your steamer.
- Once you've loaded the tamales in the steamer, (opened end facing up), pour enough water in the pan to come just below the the bottom of the tamales, but not too much that the tamales are getting wet. Watch the water level so it doesn't boil away. (Not a good thing!)
- Steam the tamales for 1 to 1 1/2 hours checking regularly.
- Note: To check for doneness, remove a tamale and let it sit for 5 minutes. The masa should no longer be sticky, and it should easily pull away from the husk.