Magazine article Sunset

The Low-Fat Cook

Magazine article Sunset

The Low-Fat Cook

Article excerpt

Tamale pie gets real, slims down

Tamale pie, although inspired by Mexican tamales, is a Western invention. We've traced it back a century in old Los Angeles cookbooks. At Sunset, we published our first tamale pie recipe in 1920. Dozens of versions, usually based on cornmeal, have followed.

So what else is there to say? Well, long after the fact, at least one Mexican chef we met in the Yucatan in 1980 generated her own concept of tamale pie. To serve a hotel full of guests, she layered authentic tamale ingredients-lard-rich masa (corn) dough and chicken filling-in a big pan to bake. Because the pie tasted like tamales and was easy to make, this recipe quickly became one of our favorites. But times demand this lighter touch.

Trim Tamale Pie

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 11/4 hours MAKES: S Or or Servings

8 to 10 dried cornhusks, each 5 to

7 inches wide and long (optional)

1 pound boned, skinned chicken breasts, fat trimmed

1 firm tomato (2 lb.), cored

1 onion (1/2 lb.)

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons dehydrated masa flour (corn tortilla flour)

3 1/4 cups fat-skimmed chicken broth

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

1/8 teaspoon anise seed

1/3 cup raisins

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

Sliced green onions

Guacasalsa (recipe follows)

1. Separate husks, discarding silks and debris. Rinse husks, then soak in warm water until pliable, at least 15 minutes.

2. Cut chicken into 1-inch chunks. Cut tomato and onion into slender wedges.

3. In a 3- to 4-quart pan, smoothly blend 2 tablespoons masa with 1/4 cup broth. …

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