Peruvian Coastal Tamales
4 pounds Dried and peeled corn (maiz)
2 pounds Instant corn masa flour (powdered corn especially for tortillas, tamales, etc) (2 lbs)
4 medium-sized onions (purple, white or yellow)
1/2 pound Crisco (or lard)
1 head of garlic
1/2 pound of dried red chiles (see aji colorado preparation)
6 dried yellow chiles (see aji colorado preparation)
4 pounds chicken or pork
2 tablespoons salt (one tbsp when cooking the meat)
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
6 hard boiled eggs (optional—although this is Lima-style)
1 small jar of pitted olives (optional)
Foil (optional—to wrap the tamales)
String (optional—to tie the tamales)
1 ounce large 8 package of corn husks
This recipe may require large and deep pots, depending on how many tamales you want to make.
White corn preparation (It is recommended to do this the night before): Take the dried white corn and soak (2 hours). When the corn is soft, remove the “nose” or hard part of the tip of the corn kernel. Drain and towel-dry the corn, then grind the corn using a blender. The corn will emerge pulverized in powder-form. Put the now powdered corn into a large pot. Set aside.
Aji colorado preparation: Soak dried red chiles and dried yellow chiles for 1 hour or until very soft. Make sure to remove all seeds. Remove any hard particles, like tough or discolored skin. Some cooks prefer to completely remove all skin. This will be your preference. Then liquefy. Set aside.
Corn husks preparation: Soak the corn husks until softened. It does not take long for this to occur. It is recommended that you use the entire package since some husks may be smaller than others and you may have to use two or three husks for one tamale. Set aside.
Chicken/meat preparation: Cut the chicken into large bite size chunks. Boil the chicken in about 6 cups or more of water with one tbsp of salt, as if making chicken soup. You can also add chicken stock cubes if you like once the “soup” starts boiling. Do not discard the broth. You want to make sure you have about 5 or 6 cups of broth that will be added to the tamale mixture for additional flavor. Set aside.
To make the tamale filling using all ingredients:
Chop the onions into blendable pieces, add the entire head of garlic and place into a blender to be liquefied until smooth.
Heat a saucepan on medium-high heat, coat with a little cooking oil and then add the onion/garlic mixture. Add the white pepper and cumin. Cook for at least 30 minutes or until the mixture becomes more solid and not watery. The mixture will darken in color. Stir, until much of the water is evaporated from the mixture and it is more creamy in texture rather than watery. Slowly pour in the chile mixture and stir. Cook, stirring the total mixture together, for 15 minutes. This is called aji colorado.
In the meanwhile, take the powdered corn in the large pot that you’ve set aside and add to it the instant corn masa. Stir the dry mixture together. Then, add the chicken broth that you’ve saved from boiling the chicken, to the dry mixture. Stir. Add in the majority of the cooked aji colorado and stir. Make sure to save some of the mixture to add together with your cooked chicken—enough to produce a chile coating of the chicken. Set the chicken aside once again.
The entire corn/aji colorado mixture is then put to simmer on the stove over medium heat. The heat will thicken the mixture towards the final product, which is a thick, gooey (not watery) consistency. When the mixture reaches this consistency, let it cool and set aside. When it cools, it will thicken even more into a final paste-like product that we will use to slather on the corn husks.
Now it’s time for the corn husks! Drain the water that the husks have been soaking in and pat them dry. Slather on one or two husks some of the corn mixture, add in pieces of the chicken and if desired, one or two pitted olives and one or two sliced pieces of the hard-boiled eggs, and then slather with the corn mixture again. You can either tie the corn husks together with corn husk strips that you tear off yourself or wrap in foil and then tie with string.
In a large pot(s) of boiling water, immerse the foil-covered tamales, making sure no filling is coming out of the foil or the corn husks. Boil for one hour to one hour and half, depending on the size of tamale you’ve made.
Drain all water and allow the tamales to cool. Do not unwrap until cooled or else the tamales will be soggy.