Sin maíz no hay país. A Mexican proverb that notes that without corn there would be no country, no Mexico. Corn is a pivotal ingredient to Mexican cuisine which transcends states, regions and especially time. Corn has been present in the Mexcian diet for thousands of years. Literally the root and power of ancient Aztec, Zapotec, Mayan and Olmec cultures, empires were built and managed off the power of nutrition that corn offered. In recent history, however, corn has been the victim of modern genetic modification. The very value and variety of corn is at risk of disappearing entirely, only to be replaced by generic white and yellow corn, devoid of flavor, nutrition and tradition. At Pancho’s Creations, we have decided to source our corn responsibly. Our corn is heirloom Bolita Blue Corn from the state of Oaxaca in the south of Mexico. Farmed and harvested by one family in the foothills of the Oaxacan mountains, this corn strain has been passed down from generation to generation for the use of tortillas, tlayudas and tamales. We boil and nixtamalize (the process of changing the pH value of corn in order to release important nutrients and by doing so strengthens the corn starch) our corn, then grind it by hand. We form our corn masa and add pork fat to bind the dough, fill it in traditional banana leaves and finish with roasted chicken and salsa verde. We wrap it up and steam. After 20 minutes we are treated to little pillows of heaven.
Serves: 4 – 6
Estimated Prep Time: 2 Hours
- 1 lb organic blue corn masa flour
- 4 oz pork fat
- 1 cup salsa verde
- 1 cup additional salsa verde
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 fresh banana tree leaves
- 3 organic chicken breasts
- 1 tsp Ancho chile powder
- 1 tsp chipotle chile powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups cooked black beans
- For the masa, prepare or purchase blue corn masa. In a KitchenAid mixer and using the paddle attachment, mix the masa, 1 tsp salt and pork fat until it is mixed well.
- Place the chicken breasts and a baking sheet and season with the chile powders, garlic powder, 1 tsp salt and olive oil, and bake in an oven at 350° F until cooked through. About 25 minutes. Allow the chicken breasts to cool down then shred the chicken using gloves hands. Once the chicken is shredded, mix well with the salsa verde and set aside.
- Prepare the banana leaves by first cutting the leaves into 12” x 12” inch squares, and cutting off the spine from the edge of the leaves. Then using a gas burning stove or individual burner by turning the flame to high and toasting both sides of the leaves. You will notice that the leaves turn color and become more vivid green. Make sure that the entire leaf has changed color. This is an important step that ensures the leaf is strong and flexible.
- Toast a leaf that is at least 18” inches long and tear off thin ¼” strips that you will use to tie the tamales shut
- Place a toasted 12×12 leaf on a flat surface, add about ¼ cup of prepared masa, top with about 2 tbsp of shredded chicken, finish with ½ tsbp salsa verde.
- Fold the leaf into thirds top to bottom and then thirds left to right again. Tuck one side of the tamal into the leaves of the other side then using a teared off strip, tie a bow around the tamal in order to secure the leaves shut. Follow suit until you have made as many tamales as possible.
- Prepare a large stock pot with water and a steamer rack. Make sure the water does not pass above the steamer rack. Place the tamales on top of the rack, cover with a lid and place over medium-low heat and steam for 35 minutes.
- Serve with black beans and additional salsa as necessary.