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Low-Fat Chicken Tamales

About 30 large dried cornhusks, at least 8 inches long
Masa Dough
Green salsa

Separate husks under running water. Large long husks work best
for tamales; smaller husks can be spliced or used for ties. Soak
husks in warm water until pliable, about 15 minutes. To use, lift
out 1 husk at a time and blot dry.

For each tamale, you need a husk that makes a rectangle at least
8 by 10 inches. (A large husk may do, or you can glue two smaller
husks together with masa dough). Scoop 1/3 cup masa onto husk
close to a long edge. Evenly spread masa flush to one long edge
of husk, making a rectangle that is 4 1/2 inches long at husk edge
and 6 inches wide.

Mound 1/3 cup filling onto masa coated husk. Lift husk edge with
masa over filling and butt it against opposite masa edge. Wrap
plain husk around tamale. Set tamale seam side down; securely tie
ends with thin husk strips. Repeat to make remaining tamales. [I
find this kind of an odd way to assemble tamales. The way I've
always seen it done is the tamale is wrapped long edge to long
edge, with the plain edge going over the one with the filling, then
the ends are tucked in over the seams and the tamale is placed seam
side down.]

In an 8 to 10 quart pan, position a rack at least 1 inch above one
inch of water; bring water to boiling on high heat. Stack tamales
on rack so air can circulate. Cover pan and adjust heat to keep
water gently boiling; occasionally add more boiling wter to maintain
1-inch depth. Steam tamales until masa is firm and peels easily
from husk, 40 to 50 minutes; to test masa, remove 1 tamale from
pan and gently open. Let tamales stand at least 10 minutes; serve
hot. Freeze tamales to store up to 6 weeks. [It says resteam them
but I'd microwave to reheat.] Serve with salsa. Makes 14.

Masa dough. Mix 4 cups masa harina, 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder,
1/2 teaspoon salt and 3 3/4 cups warm water or chicken broth until
moistened. Makes about 4 1/2 cups.

Filling. Place 4 large dried ancho or pasilla chiles on a baking
sheet. Bake in a 300F oven until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes; let
cool. Discard stems, seeds and veins. Place chilies in a bowl,
cover with boiling water, and let stand until pliable, about 30

In a 20 to 12 inch frying pan, combine 2 large onions, chopped, 2
cloves garlic, minced, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon
allspice and 1/4 cup chicken broth. Stir occasionally over high
heat until onions start to brown, about 6 minutes. Add another
1/4 cup broth; stir until liquid boils away. Repeat, ading broth
and cooking pan dry until mixture is well browned, about 4 times

Drain chilies, discarding liquid. In a blender smoothly puree
chilies and 1 can tomatoes and the liquid. Add chile mixture to
onion mixture; simmer uncovered until slightly thickened, about 10
minutes. Mix sauce with 3 cups shredded cooked chicken and salt
to taste. Makes 4 2/3 cups.

Green salsa. Husk 3/4 pound tomatillos, rinse and core. Rinse
and stem 2 or 3 fresh serrano chilies. In a 10 inch skillet,
combine tomatillos and chilies. Shake pan often over high heat
until vegetables are charred all over, about 8 minutes. Remove
from pan as vegetables char. Let cool slightly. In a blender,
puree 1/2 the tomatillos, all the chilies, 1/2 cup lightly packed
fresh cilantro and 3 cloves garlic. Chop the remaining 1/2 of the
tomatillos; stir into puree along with 1/4 cup chopped onion and
salt to taste. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.


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