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Mexican Independence Day: Green Chile Chicken Tamales!

For tonight’s Mexican Independence Day festivities we’ll be dining on tamales. Green chili chicken tamales (or tamales con salsa verde y pollo) are one of my favorites, right under Oaxaca style made with mole.

As the Mexicans celebrate their independence today with parades and street food, I’ll be cheering right along with a plate full of tamales for dinner. I may even throw together fire-roasted salsa and a few empanadas that I shared yesterday.


Tamales are a time-consuming meal, but make a large batch and freeze them for dinners. These tamales for tonight were made two months ago when I went on a tamale-making spree, rolling up more than 100 of them to pass out to neighbors and friends and stash away for occasions such as Mexican Independence Day this 16th of September, 2010.

Green Chile Chicken Tamales

Tamale Dough:
3 cups masa flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup salsa verde
1/2 cup lard, melted (can substitute vegetable oil, but it just wouldn’t be the same)

Mix together flour, salt and baking powder in a large boil. Add the water, chicken broth, salsa and melted lard. Mix together to form a soft paste-like dough. Taste and add salt if necessary.

Green Chile Chicken Tamale Filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeños or 3-4 serrano chilies, diced
3 cups salsa verde
3 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 cups chicken broth
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add in peppers, salsa and chicken. Continue to cook for 4 minutes until chicken is heated through. Add chicken broth and simmer until liquid is reduced down to a sauce-like consistency, about 30-35 minutes. Stir in cilantro.

Putting it together:
1 package corn husks soaked in water
Tamale Dough (above)
Green Chile Chicken Filling (above)

Take one corn husk at a time and spread with about 1/4 cup of masa dough into a 4″x4″ square with some corn husk overhang on one side. Add two tablespoons of filling or so in the center of the tamale and spread into a line. Fold the edge of the tamale so that both ends of the masa meet. Fold the extra tail of the corn husk up and finish rolling the overlapped corn husk. Secure with corn husk ties.

Add water on the bottom of a large stockpot, a steamer basket at the bottom so the tamales are above the water. Line with a tea towel and then fill the pot with tamales standing up. When the pot is full, cover and place over medium heat, and allow to steam for one hour. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly and serve.

Tamales can be frozen or refrigerated and reheated when ready to eat.

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