Friday, January 25

Tamales: Rajas (Green Chile & Cheese)

OK! I hope you guys are excited.. we're making tamales!!! Yay!
First things first, buy a bag of corn husks, soak your corn husks in hot water, & completely submerge. If you do this the day ahead even better... they should soak for at least 5 hrs.
(Remember to remove any corn hairs from the husks)
 The water should remain hot the entire time, even if it means changing it.

 So guess what? (I've helped make them for many years).. BUT..This was actually my first time making tamales by myself, I resisted all help, in order to see if I could make them alone.  Yes, I succeed. A very exhausted me succeeded. 
Will I make 10 lbs of tamales alone again? Probably not!
I made 3 different kinds, Rajas, Green Chile Chicken & Chicken & veggies (for the kids). I'm showing you the Rajas (green chile & cheese) tamales... my favorite!

Note: Apply some weight to the husks, like I did. Soaking them makes them more pliable
 (kinda brings them back to life)

Prepared Masa (from your fav. market) Lets be easy on ourselves!
I bought it from a small market & they prepare it in front of me.
5-6 poblano 
6 Jalapeno
6 Serranos
1- 2 onions
Lots of cheese, Monterrey, Chihuahua cheese (this is a stronger mexican cheese & melts great), queso ranchero (or fresco).. use equal portions of each. The varieties of cheeses is what makes these tamales unique! Use about 1/2 lb. of each, maybe more.

I used 3 types of chiles & 3 types of cheeses... the more variety the more tasty. In my opinion!
Gather up your fresh peppers, 4-5 poblano, 6 jalapeno & 6 serrano (for heat). Begin to thinly slice all of these lengthwise. Use 1 extra large onion (or 2 regular size) .. thinly sliced. Lets talk masa!! I bought 10 lbs. But I made 3 different kinds. For this recipe about 4 lbs with be plenty. 

Note: Don't skimp on your chiles & buy canned.. not the same!

Heat up your largest skillet with a bit of oil. Saute your onion first until slightly tender. Add all your chiles & saute until tender. Remembering they will continue to cook in the tamales. 

They have slightly changed color. Season when a bit of salt. (Remember the cheese has a good salt content)

Note: These Rajas for the most part turn out spicy, if your a heat seeker... this recipe is for you!

 Add all your cheese... It should look something like this! Lots of cheese!
Turn the heat off & your ready to start!!

Note: By melting the cheese into the peppers, less work later, melts better & flavors combine.

Take your corn husks out of the water & allow to somewhat dry. 
Place the masa on a flat baking sheet with edges. 
Flatten it & place a dry corn husk on top (smooth side up). Grab a spoon!

Note: If you apply the masa on the rough side, later when the tamales are fully cooked.. they won't release as easily.

Rub masa on 3/4 (bottom portion of the husk) a good layer. 
Not to thin & not to thick. We want the filling to shine, not the masa.

Grab some filling & place in the center! 

How to fold: Overlap both sides on to eachother closing the tamale. 
Fold the top over & voila!!! You just made your first tamale.

Note: Pinch the bottom opening, to insure nothing drips out.

This made about 25- 30 Tamales... I forget. 

Here's the secret.. you need a large pot with a rack on the bottom. (If you don't have a rack, arrange forks on the bottom to give you some height.) Giving you about half to an inch or so of height. First you will need to boil enough water to almost submerge the rack. The water must be boiling! 
Arrange your tamales like so... Leaving a gap in the center for the steam.

Note: If the water isn't boiling.. 
according the professional (my mom) the tamale will lose it's shape.

Once all the tamales are in your pot. Carefully pour the water in the center

Soak a cloth & cover the top of your tamales & place the lid on. Set the heat on medium-high for 45 mins to 1 hour! (If at any point your water has evaporated, boil more & pour it in.. if you don't your tamales will burn) Checking after the 45 mins. If the top tamales easily releases from the husk, they are done. 
If they don't, cover them up & cook a little longer.

Note: The warm cloth insures all the steam stays put & the tamales will cook more evenly.

We all have our own family recipes..Hope you enjoyed this how to & try this recipe out. If at any moment you feel lost or confused, leave me a comment.

 Reflections: These are very time consuming, not too difficult. The cooking process is definitely the key to successful tamales. 


  1. i like how you made the chile and cheese together seems easier!

  2. Girl, it's less work later, melts better & flavore combine ;)

  3. I grew up eating these, but I could never make them until I found this recipe!

  4. I like the technique and easy method of the mixture of peppers and cheese. Will try soon. Thanks!!!