Chicken Tamales with Roasted Tomato-and-Dried Chile Sauce
Time to throw a tamalada.
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"For many Southerners of Latin American heritage, Christmas means tamales: tender dumplings wrapped in leaves, like little presents," writes Sandra A. Gutierrez, author of four cookbooks, including The New Southern-Latino Table. Gutierrez spent childhood holidays at her grandmother Mita's estate, firmly planted in her spot on the tamale assembly line; now, Gutierrez hosts her very own tamaladas in her North Carolina home.
If you have never attended a tamalada, an event centered around communal tamale-making, Gutierrez is here to help you create an authentic experience in your home. These rich, fiery chicken tamales are absolutely worth the effort required to make them from scratch. The masa is moist and tender, with a burst of succulent flavor from the lard. The sauce is deep and rich with a touch of heat from the guajillo chiles—by the time the heat resides, you're ready for another bite. For the complete package, top each tamale with more sauce, crumbled queso fresco, and chopped parsley. Eat them for lunch, dinner, or as a snack any time in the day.
As a bonus, we've got a tamale troubleshooting tip from the Test Kitchen to ensure that your tamalada runs smoothly. If your corn husks are too small to hold all the dough, you have two options: Make the tamales smaller (you will end up with a double batch), or overlap two corn husks (with their wide ends joined toward the middle) to secure the filling inside.
After the tamales have been cooked and cooled, they can be frozen in their husks. To freeze: Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet, and freeze until solid. Transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container, and store in the freezer up to 4 months. To reheat frozen tamales, don't thaw them. Simply fit a large pot with a steamer basket, and fill the pot with 2 to 3 inches of water. Layer the frozen tamales inside. Cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, and steam the tamales until hot, about 30 minutes.