Traditionally, Mexican and Latin women gather over the holiday seasons and make tamales. The tradition has carried over in the West and SouthWest USA, including Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.
Share this wonderful tradition with all your friends and family by giving a DIY tamale and enchilada sauce gift kit.
It’s the Day 6 Simple Sophisticated Cooking’s 13-Day Holiday Challenge DIY food gift kit.
Canned and jarred sauce is not even remotely the same. Nor do they taste as good.
Everyone will enjoy these delicious easy to make authentic latin flavors.
And don’t forget, part of the tradition of making tamales is the coming together of people. The more help the merrier because it’s all about family, food and laughter.
Everyone has their own recipes for an authentic tamale and enchilada sauce. Many recipes use dried hatch or ancho chilies. I like to use a mixture of hatch, negro, pasquale and ancho. It deepens the flavors and offers different levels of heat.
Not only can you make tamale and enchilada sauce with these chilies but you can add a few more ingredients and turn it into a mole sauce. Include the ingredients for one or all three sauces in your holiday gifts.
As for making the tamales, here’s a very informative video that I used when first learning to make them.
This is one of the easiest gift kits to make out of the 13 because it’s quite literally tossing together a combination of dried chilies, chicken bouillon and garlic.
Personally, I like to make my own chicken stock but the traditional way is to use chicken bouillon, which is an easy addition to your kits.
Add some nice corn tortillas to complete an enchilada kit or a bag of masa, corn husks and lard for tamales kit.
Like I said, this really is an easy and versatile gift kit for the Mexican lover on your list.
Braised chicken and dried chilies come together with sweet corn masa in these tasty chicken tamales.
In a large skillet or casserole, oven medium-high heat, toast the chilies until fragrant.
Place the chilies in a blender and pour in the hot stock. Pulse to a couple of seconds to roughly break up the chilies.
Let the mixture stand for about 20 minutes, then add the chipotle chilies, garlic, pepper, cinnamon and oregano and purée.
While sauce is setting, return the large skillet* to the medium-high heat and add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot, almost to the point of smoking, add the cut up chicken to the pan and brown each side. Leave the chicken cooking in the pan and turn heat down to medium.
Using a strainer, strain the sauce into the large skillet or casserole, pressing on the solids to get all the sauce out. To make it easier, slowly add one cup of the hot water at a time to the strainer to gain more of the flavor and sauce. Bring the chicken and sauce to a boil and partly cover the pan with a lid. Turn heat down to low.
Simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes or until chicken is tender and falling off the bone.
Using tongs, remove the chicken from the pan to a large bowl and allow to cool.
Turn the heat back to medium on the sauce and boil until the sauce is reduced to about 4 cups.
Shred the chicken with a fork, removed the skin, bones and any tendon or fat pieces.
Add the shredded chicken the reduced sauce and continue to reduce until the sauce is thick and coats the chicken.
Season with salt and allow the chicken mix to cool.
*You can also cook the meat in a crock pot until done, just handle the sauce the same, expect strain it into the crock pot. Cover meat with water and cook until tender. You will need to reduce the sauce in the pan on the stove.
About the time, you add the chicken to the sauce to reduce, start making your masa dough.
Add the masa harina and hot water to a large bowl, mix well and set aside to cool.
Using an electric mixer (if using a stand mixer, fit with the paddle) beat the lard, baking powder and salt until fluffy.
Add the masa slowly to the lard, mixing well and then slowly pour in the stock and beat the masa until smooth.
Continue to beat until the masa becomes fluffy, about 3 minutes. The texture of your masa should look like soft hummus. Add more stock if needed.
Tamale Assembly and Cooking
Start soaking the corn husks in hot water in a large bowl at the same time you start cooking the chicken, so they will be soft and pliable by the time the dough and meat is finished.
Once the masa and the meat are ready, drain the corn husks and get ready to assemble your tamales.
You’ll want to lay things out in a convenient way with your masa dough one side, where it’s easy to get to. Your filling on the other and a steamer pot close by to add the finished tamales to (check out my picture above to see how I do it). You’ll also need a butter knife, large spoon or spatula to spread the masa (use what works best for you, I use the back of a large spoon).
Line the bottom of the pot with small corn husks or ones that won’t work for the tamales.
Lay several wide husks out on your work surface. Drop a large spoonful of masa on the husks and spread to about 1/4″ thick, leaving about 1 inch on each end of the husk free of dough.
Add about 2 tablespoons of filling down the middle of the dough, leaving about 1/2″ of masa at each end with no filling.
Roll up the sides of the husks until the overlap and then fold up the bottom of the husk to make a packet. Press the top of the masa edges together and lean the tamales against the side of the steamer insert with the top up.
Repeat until finished. Do not over crowd the tamales in the steamer, leave a little room in between for the steam to get in around them.
If you have leftover tamale filling, you can freeze it for later or use to make tamale pie or another dish.
Place about 1 1/2 inches of water in the bottom of the steamer pot, add the insert and cover tightly with the lid. Bring to a boil.
Turn down the heat to medium to keep the water steaming and cook the tamales for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
To tell if the tamales are done, you can take one out of the pan and gently pull the husk open. If the masa dough is still sticking to the husk, they need more time in the steamer. If it lets go cleanly, remove the pot from the heat. Take off the lid and allow the tamales to cool to edible temperature.
Serve warm plain or with salsa, sour cream, green or red chili or the toppings of your choice.
Use your tamale and enchilada sauce for these recipes:
Chicken Tamales from Simply Sophisticated Cooking
Green and Red Shredded Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas from Quinn’s Place
Authentic Homemade Tamales from How to Feed a Loon
Cheese Enchiladas from Tastes Better from Scratch
Pumpkin and Chorizo Tamales from Let’s Taco Bout It
Vegan Enchiladas with Lentils and Black Beans from Vegan Richa