Tamale Filling and Sauce
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cans (14oz ea) plain tomato sauce
juice of 1 lemon
1 small onion, cut in half then sliced into half-circles
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c golden raisins
1 c Thompson seedless raisins
1t chili powder
3t ground cinnamon
3t sweet Hungarian paprika
1t ground cumin
½ t ground cloves
1 ½ t unsweetened cocoa powder
½ t cayenne pepper
1c shredded Monterey jack
1/2c spicy pumpkin seeds
2t corn oil
12 large corn husks
6c masa harina
1t kosher salt
1t freshly ground black pepper
1t baking powder
4c chicken broth (low sodium canned is fine)
2t white wine vinegar
2t olive oil
corn oil for brushing
Briefly rinse the corn husks under running water, then place in a large bowl and cover with water to soak.
Place the chicken and tomato sauce in a medium pot over medium heat.
In a separate, small sauté pan, toast the cinnamon, chili powder, paprika, and cumin, until their aroma is released and their color has darkened slightly. Remove immediately from heat and stir into the pot with the chicken. Add cayenne, chocolate, and lemon juice to the pot, season with salt and pepper. Add ½ c golden raisins and ½ c Thompson seedless raisins and simmer for approximately 45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and flavors are well blended.
While chicken is simmering, prepare the masa. Combine masa harina, salt, pepper, and baking powder in the bowl of a large mixer. Combine chicken broth, vinegar, and olive oil in another bowl. Using the paddle attachment on the lowest setting, mix the wet ingredients into the dry, being very careful not to overmix. The resulting batter should be the consistency of thick peanut butter. You may need to adjust the masa by adding more masa harina or water until the appropriate consistency is achieved.
Set aside until chicken mixture is finished.
When chicken is well cooked, you will want to separate the chicken from the sauce by straining the chicken mixture in a medium colander over a bowl. Return the sauce to a pot to keep warm. Shred the chicken into small, stringy pieces with two forks. Taste chicken and adjust seasoning as needed.
Place a large steamer pot on the stove to boil. Remove a large corn husk from the water. Hold it in your open palm so that the tapered end hangs over your fingers and the bottom edge hangs over the bottom of your palm. Brush the husk with just a touch of corn oil. Place ½ - 2/3 cup of masa on the husk and spread with an icing spatula or the back of a spoon. You will want to only cover the areas of the husk that are sitting on your palm. The tapered end and the dangling edge should be left bare. Spoon ¼-1/3 c of the chicken mixture onto the masa, along the top edge of the tamale. Place the tamale on the counter and roll edge to edge, top to bottom. Then fold the dangling tapered end up. Repeat until you have made 12 tamales. Place the tamales, folded end down, vertically into the steamer and cover. Cook over slowly boiling water for a half hour, checking frequently and adding more water as needed. Once the tamales are cooked, let them sit for approximately ten minutes in the pot with the water off.
While the tamales are cooking, prepare the sauce. Place 2t oil into a small sauté pan and cook onion and garlic over medium heat until translucent. Add to sauce with reserved 1/2c golden and 1/2 c Thompson seedless raisins. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Keep warm until tamales are finished.
To serve, place two tamales on each plate, top with sauce and cheese (for an extra touch, melt the cheese in the broiler). Garnish with sour cream and spicy pumpkin seeds
Note on Masa: You know what is fantastic? Prepared Masa. You go to the Mexican market, it's usually in one of the big fridges in the back of the store. You grab a giant bag, tell them how many pounds you want, and they scoop it out for you. Make sure that you confirm you're getting the masa for tamales and not torillas. This stuff is great!!!! Sure, it's not lowfat, but neither are we, n'est pas?