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Quick Chicken-and-Cheese Tamales

Inspiring Idea To make his tamales, Guillermo Pernot of Cuba Libre in Philadelphia mashes masa dough and a slow-braised pork filling together in a saucepan instead of assembling the tamales one by one. He also steams the tamales in aluminum foil instead of the traditional corn husks.

Quick Take Grace Parisi mixes store-bought rotisserie chicken and cheddar cheese into a quick dough, then she wraps the tamales in plastic before steaming them.


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  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6

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  • 2 cups masa harina

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 1/4 cups cool water

  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening (3 ounces), softened

  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth

  • 2 1/2 cups shredded chicken (from 1 rotisserie chicken)

  • 1/4 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 packed cup)

  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

  • 2 scallions, finely chopped

  • Hot sauce, for serving


  1. In a food processor, pulse the masa harina with the baking powder and salt. Add the water and pulse to moisten the masa harina. Add the vegetable shortening in clumps and drizzle with the chicken stock. Process until smooth and evenly blended, scraping the side of the bowl occasionally. Transfer the dough to a large bowl and stir in the shredded chicken, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro and scallions.
  2. Tear twelve 12-inch-square sheets of plastic wrap. Working with 6 at a time, spoon a scant 1/2 cup of the tamale mixture onto the center of each sheet. With lightly moistened hands, press the tamales into 4-by-2-inch rectangles, about 1/2 inch thick. Fold up the squares of plastic around the tamales, twist the ends securely and then fold them under to make packets. Repeat to form the remaining tamales.
  3. Arrange the tamales seam side down in the bottom of a large bamboo (or other) steamer. Steam over 2 inches of boiling water for 25 minutes. Let the tamales cool slightly, then carefully transfer them to a large platter: Cut the ends of the plastic-wrapped packets and slide the tamales out onto the platter. Serve the tamales with hot sauce.

Make Ahead

The tamales can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Suggested Pairing

Juicy Merlot.

Contributed By Photo © Tina Rupp Published July 2008

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