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Cheese with Roasted Chile Tamales

My mom came up with this tangy cheese-filled tamale. It’s one of the recipes in the cookbook our family published, Muy Bueno: Three Generations of Authentic Mexican Flavor.—Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack, Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds lard, divided (Note: if you are using rendered lard, you will need to use less broth)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder, divided
  • 2 tablespoons salt, divided
  • 5 pounds fresh ground masa (unprepared) for tamales, divided
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken broth, divided
  • FILLING:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups diced, roasted and peeled Anaheim chiles
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup suero (whey) or buttermilk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4-1/2 cups shredded asadero, quesadilla or Muenster cheese, divided
  • About 60 corn husks (ojas)

Directions

  • MAKE TAMALE MASA:
  • Place 1 pound of lard in a large stand mixer with a flat beater and mix until fluffy; scraping sides so the lard stays in the center of the mixing bowl. Add half the baking powder and half the salt and mix all together.
  • Add half the masa and mix together. Slowly add half the broth to the masa and mix until combined. The mixture should be about the consistency of smooth peanut butter. If not, add more broth as necessary. Test the masa by taking a small piece (1/2 teaspoon) and dropping it into a cup of warm water. If it floats, it is ready. If it sinks, add a little more lard, beat for another minute, and test again. Repeat this process until the masa floats. Pour the masa mixture into a bigger bowl. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients.
  • Cover the masa and set aside while you prepare filling.
  • For filling, heat olive oil, add flour and stir for 3 minutes. Add diced green chiles and garlic powder and stir for 5 minutes.
  • Add suero, salt, and ½ cup of shredded cheese, and simmer for 7 minutes, stirring until cheese melts and mixture thickens. Let mixture cool before filling tamales.
  • PREPARE OJAS (CORN HUSKS):
  • Soak corn husks in water for an hour before using, rinse well with running water to take off any dust or corn husk fibers. To keep corn husks pliable and easy to work with, keep in water while filling tamales. Place a handful of wet corn husks in a colander to drain before using.
  • SPREAD MASA:
  • Place the wide end of the husk on the palm of your hand. The narrow end is at the top. Starting at the middle of the husk, with the back of a spoon, spread 2 tablespoons of the masa in a rectangle or oval shape, using a downward motion towards the wide-bottom edge. Do not spread the masa to the ends; leave about a 2-inch border on the left and right sides of the husk.
  • FILL CORN HUSKS:
  • Spoon 1½ tablespoons of filling down the center of the masa, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cheese. Fold both sides to the center; finish off by bringing the pointed end of the husk toward the filled end. Make sure it’s a snug closure so the tamale will not open during steaming. Secure by tying a thin strip of corn husk around the tamale. This will keep the tamale from unwrapping during the steaming process, especially if the husk is too thick and will not stay folded.
  • STEAM TAMALES:
  • Use a deep pot or tamale steamer to steam tamales. If using a tamale steamer, fill with water up to the fill line. Set the tamale rack over the water. Place tamales upright with fold against the sides of the other tamales to keep them from unfolding. Cover pot with a tight fitting lid. Set heat on high and bring to a boil, about 15 minutes. Lower heat and simmer for 2½ to 3 hours. Keep lid on tightly. To test if done, place one tamale on a plate and take off the corn husk. If it comes off without sticking to the tamale, they’re done.

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