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Celebrate National Tamale Day

Feb 24, 2023

Hot tamale! Next month, tamale lovers the world over get to celebrate their favorite food. Established back in 2015, National Tamale Day satisfies appetites every March 23rd, and here at Pueblo Bonito, our chefs promise to serve you the most delicious, seasoned masa pockets you’ve ever tasted.

Tamales have a rich and flavorful history deeply rooted in Mexico. Traditionally, they consist of pillowy, stone-ground corn mingling with delicious fillings like spicy pulled pork in chile sauce or melted cheese all tucked inside a corn husk or banana leaf that’s steamed or boiled before eating. As far back as the 15th century in Central America, a tamale, which means “wrapped” in Nahuatl, were the original takeout meal: filling and convenient quick bites that could easily be packed to go. In modern day Latin America, tamales remain an important part of holidays and special occasion celebrations; family members or small groups often gather to make hundreds of tamales at a time to share or sell. Pulled pork might very well meld with cheese, but beans, chicken, and turkey are common fillings, too, along with vegetables and complementary seasonings. It often depends on where they’re made as to what goes inside. Oaxacan tamales are wrapped with banana leaves and filled with traditional mole, Sonoran and Sinaloan tamales are filled with vegetables, and Chiapas tamales tend to feature corn. It’s most common to indulge in a tamale by simply unwrapping the steaming package and eating it straight from the husk or leaf, but some choose to enhance the meal by adding salsa and crema, hot sauce, or guacamole. Tamales can be served for dessert, too. Most often fruit-filled, these hand pies might be sweetened with caramel or cream, and are usually smaller than the hearty, savory tamales served as a main course.

Today, it is estimated that there are more than 500 tamale recipes in Mexico, depending on the traditions of each region and the customs of each community.

And we’ve decided to share our favorite, and Pueblo Bonito’s most popular tamale recipe with you. We serve it daily at El Mexicano inside the Market at Quivira, a spirited cafe where dinner menus showcase local ingredients prepared fresh to order. Give the recipe a go and then come to Pueblo Bonito so we can make it for you.

The Market at Quivira Tamales
“Receta Tamal Verde de Pollo”
Serves 12 to 15 (1 per person)

This is a five-part recipe. You’ll soak the corn husks, make the cornmeal filling, boil the chicken, and create a flavorful salsa verde before putting it all together. Each part is separated by an ingredient list specific to that part. If you’d like a visual guide, there are a number of videos
available online that can be used as a guide for this recipe.


Masa/Dough Ingredients:
- Corn flour
1 kg/ 8 cups
- Vegetable shortening or butter
250 grams/ 2 cups
- Chicken broth (from chicken prep)
1 cup
- Baking powder
1 teaspoon
- Salt
1 teaspoon
- Corn husks
20 pieces

To Make Tamale Dough/Masa:
1. Fill a large container or deep bowl with hot water. Submerge the corn husks and let them hydrate for 30 minutes. Use a weight on top to keep them under water.
2. While you wait, whisk the corn flour with the vegetable shortening, room temperature chicken broth, baking powder, and salt until everything is combined and you have a uniform mixture.

Chicken Ingredients
- Shredded chicken breast
1 piece (8oz)
- Onion (peeled and halved)
100 gr/ ½ cup
- Carrots (cut in four)
100 gr/ ½ cup
- Leek (cleaned and halved)
200 gr/ 2 cups
- Celery (cut in four)
200 gr/ 2 cups
- Salt
½ teaspoon

To Make the Chicken Breast
Boil the chicken breast in approximately 2 liters of water.
2. Add half an onion, the carrots, 200 grams of leeks, and 200 grams of celery. and salt to taste.
Once the chicken breast is cooked, set aside, and strain the chicken broth. This will be useful to add it to the flour for tamales.

Green Sauce Ingredients
(½ cup):
- Chicken broth 200 ml (¾ cup)
- Onion
100 gr (½ cup)
- Garlic
2 pieces
- Jalapeño pepper
~80 gr
- Tomatillo
1 kg
- Coriander
40 gr (2 tablespoons)
- Vegetable shortening/oil
20 ml (1 tablespoon)
- Salt
1 teaspoon
- Black pepper
1 pinch

To Make the Green Sauce:
1. Fry the onion, garlic, jalapeño pepper, and tomatillo in oil or vegetable shortening.
Add the chicken broth and coriander, until you have a liquid consistency with a slight thickness. At this time, add salt, and a pinch of black pepper.
Let the sauce cool down a little before adding it to a blender to puree.
Once blended, pour it into a pan to finish seasoning.

To Put It All Together:
1. Remove the cornhusks, one at a time, and drop a spoonful of tamale dough/masa on top of each one, followed by a bit of shredded chicken and the verde/green sauce.
Wrap the corn husks around the filling and then fold up from the bottom and tie. (If not tying, simply wrap and fold in both corn husk ends, with the top overlapping the bottom.
Cook the tamales in a steamer basket in a double boiler for one hour or until cooked.

It may seem like a lot of work–and it does require quite a few steps–but it can be fun if you take your time and enjoy a margarita or a frosted beer along the way. Make it yours, spice it as you like, or leave it all to us. Book your stay at Pueblo Bonito for March 23, and celebrate National Tamale Day with us. Unwrap tradition and taste the flavors of Mexico!