Make delicious moist and flavorful Chicken Tamales faster using a pressure cooker.
I found this recipe in a file of my mother’s after she passed away. It is from her younger brother Clark Smith. Since I had a bag of masa mix that my brother bought when he visited and made fried catfish, I knew I had to make it. I altered the directions to make them in my Instant Pot because I didn’t want to wait as long. I love tamales!
The pressure cooker does a great job of speeding up the cooking of both the filling and the tamales themselves. But it doesn’t do anything to spread up the rolling process. The best way to handle that is to recruit help.
The key to a good tamale is the right ratio of masa to filling. The masa does not expand much as it steams, so you want about a 50 to 50 ratio. Enough masa to go all the way around the filling but not so much that is feels like all masa. Of course adding the cooking liquid to the masa does make it incredible tasting.
You can also buy prepared masa at a Mexican specialty market, or at most mainstream grocery stores around holiday time. At least here in California.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs (cut into quarters)
- 1 cup celery (diced)
- 1/2 cup onion (diced)
- 1 tablespoon cilantro
- 1 teaspoon chipotle
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 quart water or chicken broth
- 4 cups instant masa mix
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/3 cup lard or vegetable shortening
- corn husks
- Add olive oil to the pressure cooker and turn to saute (or medium high heat if using stove top). Brown the chicken pieces on both sides.
- Add celery, onion, cilantro, chipotle and chili powder. Cover the ingredients with water or broth. Close pressure cooker and switch to high pressure for 10 minutes. Let pressure release naturally.
- Coarsely chop the chicken. Remove 3 cups of cooking liquid and set aside. Add chicken back to remaining liquid.
- Soak corn husks in warm water for at least 15 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, combine masa mix, baking powder and salt. Add the reserved cooking liquid to make a soft dough.
- In another bowl, whip lard or shortening with a beater until fluffy. Beat into the masa dough until smooth.
- Spread masa mix on the corn husks. Add a tablespoon of chicken to the middle. Close the husks folding toward the inside.
- Place tamales in a steamer basket that will fit in the pressure cooker open side up.
- Add 2 cups of hot water to the bottom of the pressure cooker. Add steamer basket. Pressure cook for 20 minutes on high. Let pressure release naturally.
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