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Hot Tamales [Authentic Mexican Chicken Tamales]

January 5th, 2008

Authentic Chicken Mexican Tamales

Now that the business of the Christmas season is winding down I have found more time for the things I enjoy like: running/jogging, baking, spending quality time with my wife, and most importantly to you, writing on my blog! I’ve just finished baking some cupcakes [I’ll post about this later] but first I want to tell you about my tamales I cooked up just before Christmas.

My work has a potluck once a year right before we head off on our Christmas vacation. Last year I brought some cookies (I think?) but I had remembered that there were way too many sweets. I did some thinking and after attending an authentic Mexican Christmas party at my friend’s place and eating Tamales there I decided that would be the thing to do.

So I was off, determined to find the best recipe on the web and make my first-ever batch of home-made hot tamales! WOW were they good!!!! I found the recipe online and followed the advice to spread this out over a few days. Here’s what I did:

Brief Overview:

  1. Day 1: Make the Meat
  2. Day 2: Make the masa, prepare corn husks, and fill with meat
  3. Day 3: Steam the tamales

Now, you can do all of this in one day, but you’ll probably have to start in the morning or early afternoon to finish all the steps. Be advised.
Day 1:


  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1/4 cup Corn oil [ I used olive oil for less fat ]
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1.5 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground pepper
  • Salt to your preference (I used about 1 or 2 teaspoons)

Before we start cooking I’m going to remind you to save the chicken broth when you are done!


  1. Insert whole chicken (rinsed in cold water and fat cut off) into a pot large enough to hold the whole chicken and cover with water.
  2. Fill pot with cold water to an inch or two above the chicken [although the original recipe didn’t call for it I added some (no more than 1 tablespoon each) pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and chili powder to the water for extra flavor]
  3. Bring water to boil then reduce to simmering for 2 hours.
  4. Prepare an ice bath to cool chicken when done cooking
  5. Cool the chicken in the ice bath when it is done (saving the broth for day 2)
  6. When the chicken is cool, using an immaculately clean work area and hands, remove all meat from the chicken with your hands and discard the bones (or make weapons from them 😉 ).
  7. Heat up a pan and the corn oil with enough room to hold the chicken meat.
  8. Add the seasonings and mix well for about a minute over medium heat
  9. Pull the chicken meat apart with your hands and add it to the pan.
  10. Cook it all together until it combines and gets heated through again.
  11. Taste it and add more seasoning as you see fit.
  12. Put it in a container and save for Day 2.

Chicken cookingFinished Seasoned Chicken The Chicken Broth [ Save it for day 2!!! ]

Day 2:


  • 2 lbs “Ma Se Ca” Instant Corn Masa Mix (1/2 of the 4 lb bag)
  • 3 Tablespoons paprika (weird — at least to me –, I know, but it’s good)
  • 1.5 Tablespoons of salt (less or more to your taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 3 Tablespoons of chili powder
  • 3 Tablespoons of garlic powder
  • 2 cups of corn oil [ again I used olive oil for less fat ]
  • 2 quarts Chicken Broth from Day 1 [ reheated on the stove ]
  • Chicken mix from Day 1 [ reheat on the stove for easier spreading ]
  • About 30 dried corn shucks (I found mine near the masa mix in the grocery store)


  1. Place the corn shucks in a large bowl full of scalding hot water to soften.
  2. Mix all the spices and masa together until combined
  3. Add the oil and mix
  4. Slowly mix and add the chicken broth 1 cup at a time working it in with your hands.
  5. Add more masa if too thin or more chicken broth if too thick.
  6. Work the dough to a peanut butter consistency.
  7. After the corn shucks are softened peel them apart one by one
  8. Hold one in your hand and spread a thin layer of masa over the shuck leaving 1/3 masa free on one side and the bottom of the shuck.
  9. Add a little bit (1 tablespoon or so) of spicy chicken to the top of the spread masa
  10. Now roll up from side to side and then fold the bottom up and place in the steaming basket.
  11. Keep doing this until you run out of either the chicken, masa or both. I had to make more masa, but I also used more than I should have and they were really thick.

Wow, now you have a steam pot full of tamales. You can steam them now or wait till the morning like I did. Refrigerate them if you decide to wait until day 3.

Preparing the tamale

Day 3:


  • Your steam pot full of tamales
  • Oven.


  1. Fill the bottom of the steam pot full of water — do not let the water touch the tamales.
  2. Heat the water to boiling, then reduce it to simmer so it steams the tamales.
  3. Cover the tamales and let them steam.
  4. Check the water — OR ELSE your house will seriously burn down, trust me on this one I had smoke detectors going off!
  5. After about 2 hours take one tamale out and unwrap it to see if it’s done. The masa should be cooked thoroughly.

Corn ShucksMasa MixTamales in the steamer

Now, enjoy a tamale FRESH and DELICIOUS! Let me know what you think in the comments!

I hope you enjoy!

Posted in Chicken, Dinner, Mexican | Leave/read a comment (10)

  » By Keith Prickett