Flavorful Green Chile and Cheese Tamales

 

Introduction:

Green chile and cheese tamales are a beloved traditional Mexican dish, cherished for their tantalizing blend of flavors and comforting warmth. These savory tamales are perfect for gatherings, celebrations, or simply as a delightful treat to enjoy any time. Crafting these tamales is not only a culinary experience but also a cultural journey, as they reflect the rich heritage of Mexican cuisine.

Ingredients:

For the masa dough:

  • 2 cups masa harina (corn flour)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening or lard
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt to taste

For the filling:

  • 1 cup roasted green chiles, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (such as Monterey Jack or Cheddar)

For assembly:

  • Dried corn husks, soaked in warm water for at least 30 minutes

Instructions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the masa harina, vegetable broth or water, vegetable shortening or lard, baking powder, and salt. Mix until a smooth dough forms. The dough should be soft and pliable but not sticky. If it’s too dry, add a bit more broth or water.
  2. In another bowl, mix together the chopped green chiles and shredded cheese to create the filling.
  3. Take a soaked corn husk and spread a thin layer of masa dough on the wide end, leaving a border around the edges.
  4. Spoon a small amount of the green chile and cheese filling onto the center of the masa dough.
  5. Fold the sides of the corn husk over the filling, then fold the bottom of the husk up. Secure the tamale by tying it with a thin strip of corn husk.
  6. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients until all the masa dough and filling are used up.
  7. Steam the tamales in a large steamer basket over boiling water for about 1 hour, or until the masa is firm and cooked through.
  8. Allow the tamales to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy them warm with your favorite toppings or sauces.

Serving Tips:

  1. Serve the tamales with a side of salsa verde for an extra burst of flavor.
  2. Garnish each tamale with a sprinkle of chopped fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice before serving.
  3. Accompany the tamales with Mexican rice and refried beans for a complete and satisfying meal.
  4. For a festive touch, serve the tamales on a platter decorated with colorful Mexican textiles or pottery.
  5. Pair the tamales with a refreshing agua fresca, such as horchata or Jamaica, to balance out the heat of the green chiles.
  6. Top the tamales with a dollop of sour cream or Mexican crema for added richness and creaminess.
  7. For a crunchy contrast, serve the tamales with a side of pickled onions or jalapeños.
  8. Make a tamale bar for your guests, offering a variety of toppings and fillings such as shredded chicken, pork, or beans.
  9. Serve the tamales as part of a brunch spread, alongside dishes like huevos rancheros and chilaquiles.
  10. Freeze any leftover tamales for future meals. They can be reheated in the microwave or steamed until heated through.

Storage Tips:

  1. Store leftover tamales in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  2. To freeze the tamales, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. Once frozen, transfer them to a resealable plastic bag or container, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  3. To reheat frozen tamales, steam them for 15-20 minutes, or microwave them on high for 2-3 minutes, until heated through.
  4. For longer storage, vacuum-seal the tamales before freezing to prevent freezer burn.
  5. Label the container or bag with the date to keep track of how long the tamales have been stored.
  6. If reheating a large batch of tamales, consider steaming them in batches to ensure even heating.
  7. Allow the tamales to cool completely before storing them to prevent condensation from forming and making them soggy.
  8. If you plan to store the tamales for an extended period, double-wrap them in plastic wrap before freezing to maintain freshness.
  9. When reheating tamales in the microwave, sprinkle a few drops of water over them to help prevent them from drying out.
  10. To save time, make a double batch of tamales and freeze the extras for future meals or snacks.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) :

  1. Are green chile and cheese tamales spicy? Green chile and cheese tamales can vary in spiciness depending on the type and amount of green chiles used. Typically, they have a mild to moderate level of heat, but this can be adjusted according to personal preference. If you prefer a milder flavor, you can use mild green chiles or remove the seeds, which contain most of the heat.
  2. Can I make green chile and cheese tamales without using lard? Yes, you can make green chile and cheese tamales using vegetable shortening or oil instead of lard. Vegetable shortening is a common substitute for lard in tamale recipes and works well to achieve a similar texture in the masa dough. Additionally, using vegetable shortening makes the tamales suitable for vegetarians and those who avoid animal products.
  3. How do I know when the tamales are done cooking? Tamales are typically done cooking when the masa dough is firm and no longer sticky. You can test for doneness by removing a tamale from the steamer and carefully unwrapping it. The masa should be cooked through and have a tender texture. If the masa is still sticky or doughy, continue steaming the tamales for additional time until they are fully cooked.
  4. Can I freeze green chile and cheese tamales before steaming them? Yes, you can freeze green chile and cheese tamales before steaming them. To freeze uncooked tamales, assemble them as usual and then place them on a baking sheet in a single layer. Once frozen solid, transfer the tamales to a resealable plastic bag or airtight container and store them in the freezer for up to three months. When ready to enjoy, simply steam the frozen tamales for a few extra minutes until heated through.
  5. Can I reheat green chile and cheese tamales in the microwave? Yes, you can reheat green chile and cheese tamales in the microwave for a quick and convenient meal. Simply place the tamale on a microwave-safe plate and cover it with a damp paper towel to prevent it from drying out. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through. Check the tamale halfway through and rotate it if necessary for even heating. Once heated, allow the tamale to cool slightly before serving

Conclusion:

Green chile and cheese tamales are more than just a dish – they’re a celebration of tradition, flavor, and community. Whether enjoyed during a festive occasion or a cozy night in, these tamales never fail to delight with their irresistible combination of tender masa dough, zesty green chiles, and gooey cheese. By following these simple instructions and tips, you can recreate this beloved Mexican delicacy in your own kitchen and savor the magic of authentic homemade tamales anytime you desire.