Cuban Tamales

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  • 24 dried corn husks (hojas)
  • 2 cups corn kernels (may use frozen sweet corn kernels, defrosted)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter (at room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup cornmeal

Chicken Sofrito Filling

  • 1/2 to 1 habanero chile, stemmed, seeded
  • 1 red or green jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 10 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
  • 1/2 cup peeled, seeded, diced tomato
  • 1 small cooked potato, diced
  • 1/4 cup raisins (plumped in hot water)
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. Tamales: Soak the corn husks in hot water for 1 hour.
  2. Puree the corn kernels with the milk and butter in food processor; then add the sugar, salt and 1/3 cup cornmeal; blend quickly. Add more cornmeal only if the batter seems too liquid. Transfer to a bowl. Wash and dry the processor bowl.
  3. Chicken Sofrito Filling: With the food processor running, drop the chiles and garlic through the feed tube; they should be finely minced. Set aside.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a nonstick sauté pan. Add the onions and cook until softened; push to one side and add the chicken. Sauté until lightly browned.
  5. Add the garlic-chile mixture; sauté 1 minute. Add the tomato, potato, raisins and capers. Season with the cumin, salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
  6. Combine the filling and the corn batter. Place about 1/2 cup of the mixture in the middle of a corn husk. Wrap the husk around the mixture and tie on both ends with string. Continue with remaining tamale mixture and corn husks.
  7. Steam the tamales over barely simmering water for 1 hour. Check on the water level from time to time; add boiling water, if necessary.

Yield: 10 tamales