Did you know that tamales are a Christmas tradition in many countries? Assembling a mass of tamales for easy holiday dining is usually a family affair. From Argentina to the American southwest, this holiday tradition gets everyone involved in the kitchen.. I like to serve this variation of tamales because it has all the flavors of tamales without all the extra dough. This recipe is for four individual tamales servings
One half breast per person
2/3 C chopped fresh peppers (use a bell or combo of Anaheim and 1 jalapeno) You can substitute canned chili’s with medium heat
3/4 C sliced thin onion
cheese of your choice (jack, cheddar or quesa fresca – a white mexican cheese)
**chicken base or bullion
**cumin - check the mexican spices – they sell soft packages of spices for much less than the regular spice aisle
**Eliminate these if you are buying canned enchilada sauce equal to two cups**
Cabbage and any “topping options”
The layers of the open face tamales consist of:
A bed of masa, about 1/2″ think
Layer of cooked onions and peppers
Large chunks of shredded chicken mixed with the “rojo” or red chili sauce
1 C Shredded Cheese
cilantro sprigs (*optional)
avocado slices or guacamole (*optional)
sour cream (*optional)
olive slices – green or black (*optional)
Have your chicken breast defrosted and de-boned. In a 2qt (or larger) pot with a tight fitting lid – Bring water to a roiling boil, add a Tbsp of chicken base or bullion. When boiling hard drop in your chicken breast halves and cover tightly. As soon as it comes back to a boil (*which should be less than a minute or two) – turn off the heat and let sit undisturbed for 30 minutes. This is a great way to “poach” chicken for dishes where you want the meat precooked or shredded. Eventually pull each breast out and shred the meat – two forks will do this if you do not want to use your hands. *Shortcut, do this while you are making dinner the night before and store the chicken ready to shred for use tomorrow.
Prepare the Masa – check the package for directions – its easy to make, for four open face in I use 1.5 C of masa with 1+1/3 C of chicken broth and 1/3 C of vegetable shortening. Usually the package will call for lard, but crisco works quite nicely – set aside.5
If you are using fresh peppers, slice finely and brown quickly over high heat with the sliced onion -set aside. If you use canned chilis, just brown the onions.
Make the Rojo sauce – *Shortcut – you can substitute canned red enchilada sauce – the real red chili sauce is worth the small effort to make it!
Chop 1/2 onion, fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp butter (oleo)
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp chili powder
2 C chicken stock
To make the sauce:
In a sauce pan, cook the onion in the oleo, then add the garlic – cook 1 more minute. Add the flour, chili powder and cumin. This forms a rue – allow this to cook for a couple of minutes (this takes the flour taste out). Add 2C of stock slowly & stir until sauce is smooth. Let this come to a simmer, thin with additional broth or water if it gets too thick.
****This is an awesome, all around red chili sauce for tamales, enchiladas, eggs, over rice or beans. ***
To assemble the open face tamales; spread a1/2″ layer of masa in your baking containers. Top the masa with the layer of cooked onions and peppers, spread evenly. Mix 1 Cup of chili sauce with the shredded chicken and spread on top of the onion and pepper layer in a thick chunky layer. Top this with shredded cheese – Bake for 25 minutes in oven at 325. For individual servings; top with some of the shredded cabbage, and any other toppings you opted for. Serve the additional rojo tableside.
Served with beans, and my chopped guacamole salad – this is a hearty and savory meal.