½ cup crumbled queso fresco panela OR other Mexican melting cheese
Place 15 to 20 corn husks in a large stock pot; cover with hot water for 30 minutes to soften. Weigh down with a plate to keep husks submerged.
To make salsa, combine all salsa ingredients in a food processor or blender. Pulse for 30 seconds to 1 minute until pureed; scrape down sides if needed.
Combine chicken filling ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. Salsa and chicken filling can be made up to 24 hours ahead and refrigerated.
Stir 2-⅓ cups masa corn flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl until thoroughly combined; make a well in the center. Whisk water adn bouillon powder together; pour into well along with oil. Mix thoroughly with large spoon until dough is formed. Let sit 5 minutes before preparing the tamales.
Remove one corn husk from water; pat dry with paper towling and place on work surface. Place ¼ cup masa dough in center of husk. Pat dough with clean hands into an approximate 4-½-inch by 5-inch rectangle; leaving at least 2 inches clear in the lower part of the husk. The dough should be approxinately ¼-inch thick.
Place 1 heaping tablespoon chicken filling down the center of tamale dough. Encase the filling in dough by rolling the verticle edges together. (You shouldn’t be able to see the filling). Roll husks around the dough. Fold up lower ⅓ to ½ of husk. Tie with a strip of husk torn from any smaller or misshapen husks that are not used for tamale making. Repeat with remaining tamales.
Stove Top Steaming Method for Tamales:
To steam tamales, place 2 to 3 inches of water in a large pot fitted with a vegetable basket, strainer or bamboo steamer. Bring water to a low boil and insert tamales in an upright position making sure they are not touching the water. Pieces of foil may be used to space them evenly and hold them upright. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Steam the tamales for 45 to 60 minutes over lightly boiling water, adding more water as needed. The tamales are done when they are firm to the touch. Carefully remove from the steamer and let stand for 5 minutes prior to serving.
Slow Cooker Steaming Method for Tamales:
Turn slow cooker to LOW. Add about 1-inch water to slow cooker, insert wire rack and cover with lid. Place tamales in an upright position making sure they are not touching the water. Pieces of foil may be used to space them evenly and hold them upright.
Cover slow cooker with a double layer of paper towels, then place lid onto paper towels and seam the tamales for 1 to 2 hours, adding more water if needed. The tamales are done when they are firm to the touch. Using tongs, carefully transfer the tamales from the slow cooker onto a serving plate and let stand for 5 minutes prior to serving.
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