Tamalitos de Chipilín
September is here, and just like last year, we wanted to share with you our typical Guatemalan dishes. This recipe is for “Tamalitos de Chipilín”.
A tamal is a traditional Latin American dish made of masa (corn dough) which is wrapped in corn husks or plantain leaves. This wrapping is discarded to enjoy the tamal. They can be filled with chicken or pork meat, loroco, chipilín, and they are seasoned with a delicious red sauce called “recado”.
This variation does not have any meat in them, you can prepare the plain kind which is just made out of masa, or mix in chipilín leaves. These leaves are commonly used in Central American cooking and impart a special flavor in certain dishes, even though I am asking that you use 2 bunches of chipilín leaves which you will think is a lot, trust me. Use them all. I am aware that you will probably not be able to find these leaves abroad, so as a variation of the plain tamal, just before you wrap it I recommend you put in a thin slice of white cheese (queso fresco).
To enjoy your tamal, you can eat it just as it is, served warm with a little cream. Another way is to slice it up and heat them in your toaster oven and spread some cream cheese on top.
Now, regarding this recipe and its procedure. It seems like a very long procedure but that’s just because I wanted to describe each part of the process well. Essentially, you just have to mix all the ingredients, grab a small portion with you hand to make a little “mud pie” with it, place in on the leaf and wrap it up. The wrapping is very easy too, so don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe.
This recipe was given to me by Sandra, she helped me out last year by showing me how to make Kaq-ik, which we posted last September.
- Mix the corn flour with water a little bit at a time, alternating them.
- When you’ve used up half of the flour and water, mix in the margarine.
These will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, if you won’t serve them all, it is best if you freeze them. If frozen, you can heat them up in a pot with about 2 inches of water for about 12 minutes. If you’re just pulling them from the fridge, pop them in the microwave.
I hope you try it!
Tamalitos de Chipilín
Yields approx. 20 units
1 package corn flour, 2lb (Maseca)
1 ½ sticks of margarine
2 ½ cups of water
2 ½ cups of chicken broth (consomé)
1 tablespoon salt
2 bunches chipilin leaves
2 bunches of corn husks (tuza)
- Wash your hands.
- In a large bowl which you will use for mixing, put about ¼ of the flour in and add some of the water (maybe 1 cup). Start mixing it in using your hands.
- Add some more flour, add about another cup of water. Mix it in.
- Add the margarine. Mix it in. More flour, then add the chicken broth. Mix it in.
- Add more flour and more water or chicken broth until you have finished the Maseca package.
- Add the chipilin leaves, a handful at a time.
- Mix, mix, mix.
- This mix should feel moist, but not wet. Try to get an idea of the texture through our photographs
- Take a couple of individual corn husks, and cut strips out of them, which you will use to tie up your tamal. Make about 24 strips.
- Place a corn husk on the counter. Open it up
- Place about a handful of “masa” in your hand, try to give it an oval shape.
- Put it in the middle of your corn husk, leaving a space of about 2 inches on the top (this is the part you’ll tie up).
- Fold the sides in.
- Fold the bottom up.
- Gather the top together by sort of crunching it
- Tie it tightly with a strip of corn husk. (Go around a couple of times and then tie it up)
- Set aside. You have your tamalito!
- Repeat all the assembly steps until you have used up all your masa.
- Get a large, deep pot. (see picture)
- Place a few corn husks on the bottom of the pot.
- Start arranging all your tamalitos, tied side up. Side by side.
- Fill the pot with water until you have just covered them.
- Place a wet cloth on top, to cover them.
- Cover your pot with the lid.
- Turn the heat to Medium and wait for it to start boiling, about 15 min
- Set your timer to 1 1/2 hours.
- When the time is up, remove the cloth carefully so you don’t burn yourself and drain out any liquid.
- Serve warm!
- You can leave them in the pot if you will serve them within a few hours. Otherwise, lift them out of the pot using thongs and let them cool. Then refrigerate them.
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