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Tamales with Red Chili and Chicken Filling

Prep Time:20 Minutes
Cook Time:150 Minutes

Nutritional Information

These tamales are flavored with chicken and a red chile sauce.


  • 3 medium guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 1/2 medium ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 1/2 chiles de arbol, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup reserved liquid
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup homemade chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • basic tamale dough, see recipe
  • 1 1/2 dozen dried corn husks, soaked in water for at least 1 hour


  • 1. Combine all the dried chiles in a large Dutch oven or cast iron skillet and cook over medium-high heat, flipping chiles frequently, until slightly darkened and aromatic, about 3 minutes.
  • 2. Transfer chiles to a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer until chiles are very soft, about 20 minutes. Strain chiles through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl. Transfer chilies and reserved steeping liquid to the jar of a blender.
  • 3. Add garlic and cumin and puree until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, push sauce through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl. Discard solids in strainer.
  • 4. Preheat the Egg to 425º using direct heat and a cast iron grate. Grill the chicken thighs until just barely done, about 4 minutes. Remove from the grill and shred.
  • 5. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add red chili sauce and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 5 minutes. Stir in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add shredded chicken thighs to sauce, reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until thickest part of thigh registers between 175-185°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate and let stand until cool enough to handle, then shred by hand or using two forks.
  • 6. While chicken is cooling, increase heat to medium-high and let sauce boil until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, then season with salt and pepper. Add shredded chicken to sauce and stir to combine. Set aside.
  • 7. Working one at a time, place a corn husk on work surface. Place 2-3 tablespoons of tamale dough on larger end of husk and spread into a rectangle approximately 1/4 inch thick, leaving a 1-inch border around edges of husk. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in a line down center of dough. Fold over sides of husk so dough surrounds filling, then fold bottom of husk up and secure closed by tying a thin strip pulled from another husk around tamale. Repeat with remaining husks, dough, and filling.
  • 8. Fill a large pot with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Rest tamales upright in a steamer insert or on rack above the water level. Cover and steam until dough is cooked through and pulls away easily from the husk, about 1 hour. Remove tamales from steamer and let rest until dough firms up, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Chef JJ’s is a unique, personal and hands-on culinary experience with a focus on kamado style cooking, corporate team building, private events and grilling classes. Indy's large party restaurant. Indianapolis, Indiana 317.602.3828