Shopmade Tamales


I love having a kitchen in my woodshop, especially during the rainy season when I often have something bubbling away on the stove while I make things in the shop. As I was making my prototype Windsor Longboard over the weekend, I prepared tamales for about twenty people coming over for our monthly ‘dinner club’. Here is a simple recipe for shop-made chicken tamales, plenty for twenty:

Gently boil two whole chickens in just enough water to cover, about two hours or until tender but not too soft, occasionally skimming the fat. Remove chickens and allow to cool. Save the broth, keeping it warm and removing any remaining fat (I like to use smallish, lean chickens for better flavor, which produce less fat. If you use a fatty chicken, you may need to strain the broth through cheese cloth). Meanwhile, place about 3 pounds masa de harina in a large bow, and thoroughly mix in about a half cup each of ground cumin, chili powder, and sea salt, breaking up any clusters of spice. Mix by hand. Use your hands to mix in about 3 cups corn oil until the texture is like wet sand. Slowly mix in the warm chicken broth, cup by cup until the dough has the texture of thick peanut butter. Allow to sit for several hours while flavors infuse the dough.

Remove all meat from the chicken carcasses and shred by hand into bite size portions. Place the meat in a large bowl and thoroughly coat with mole sauce, about 2-3 cups (use your favorite recipe- Ene makes a mean mole!). Allow the chicken to marinate for at least several hours before building the tamales. Meanwhile, soak the dried corn husks in water to make them pliable.

Fill each corn husk with some combination of the masa de harina, chicken, poblano chilis, queso fresco and fresh pineapple. Keeping one end open, tie the tamales with a piece of string if necessary, or stack them tightly in a large steamer, with the open ends up. Steam the tamales for about 2 hours, then serve with your favorite salsa and side dishes. I made a fresh salsa with cherry tomatoes, onion, fresh cilantro, jalapeno pepper and lime juice. For our ‘dinner club’, friends brought Mexican Rice, Black Beans, a salad of fresh garden greens, lemon tart and brownies for dessert.  Enjoy!


We served fresh meyer lemonade and Mexican beer.

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