Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Fresh Corn Tamales with Cheese & Jalapeño

Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 10 servings

Although we know tamales are a typical Christmas food, at Hispanic Kitchen, we know they are a divine snack that we crave all year long.

This recipe with fresh corn in the tamale dough has given us delicious results, especially if you use queso fresco!


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  1. Place a clean kitchen towel on the counter. Using a sharp knife, remove the kernels from the ear of corn. Transfer the corn to the food processor and process until coarsely chopped. If you like it a little smoother, you can process it a little longer and set it aside.
  2. Combine masa harina, chile ancho powder, garlic powder, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Gradually add warm chicken broth, and using your hand, work into a soft dough.
  3. In another glass bowl, melt the shortening or Manteca in the microwave for a minute or so. Add the shortening and the reserved corn to the masa and work with hands until mixed well. If masa seems too thick, add a bit of chicken broth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. While the masa chills, add the corn husk to a large pot or storage container. Cover entirely with boiling water. Use a heavy bowl to weigh down the husk to make sure they stay immersed in the water. Let them soak for a good hour, rotating them halfway through soaking time.
  5. Slice the cheese (both kinds) into 2-inch x 1/4 inch strips, and set aside. Remove the stems and seeds from the jalapeños and slice each pepper into eight equal strips, set aside.
  6. When ready, take a few of the husks and shake off excess water; if they are more than 4 inches wide, just tear off the side a little. Place the corn husk, smooth side up, in the palm of your hand with the wide side closest to you. With a spoon, spread about 3 to 4 tablespoons of masa all over the bottom half of the husk. Add a strip of each kind of cheese and one strip of jalapeño lengthwise down the center of the tamale. Fold one side first, then the other side (it should overlap a little on the first fold). Fold down the empty top section down and lay the tamale seam side down until ready to cook. Repeat until all is done.
  7. Prepare a large pot to steam tamales. Take a metal steamer that expands out, and place it in the pot. Fill the bottom of the pot with about 5 cups of water. Arrange all of your tamales around the metal steamer standing up (open side up). Insert a smaller, heat-proof bowl in the center of the pot to keep the tamales upright. Cover with foil paper, add a lid, and turn the heat to high to get a quick boil going. Reduce heat and steam tamales for 1 hour. Set the timer for 30 minutes, at which time you will add another 2 cups of hot water to the pot. Remove from heat and let them sit, covered, until ready to serve. As they cool, they will become more firm. Serve with your favorite salsas and toppings for garnish.

Chef Notes

To check if tamales are done, after steaming for an hour pull one tamale out and let it cool. If the corn husk pulls away easily from the masa, your tamales are done. Whenever I prepare tamales filled with cheese, I like to wrap them in deli paper or foil paper individually as I fill them. This will prevent the cheese from running into the pot. It’s optional, but it works well for me. This makes a big batch, but the tamales freeze well. Just make sure they cool completely before wrapping in foil paper and storing in freezer bag. I bundle only 6 tamales per bunch. It Makes for easy defrosting.

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