Friday, July 2, 2010

Cold Coconut Chicken Tamales

This is a primal recipe-- no grain (masa) used! The texture of coconut flour lends itself perfectly to cornmeal/masa recipes. I needed a car/finger food for my 20 hour drive to Georgia and tamales sounded so, so good. I worked hard to develop this recipe. They're GREAT cold and the texture is just dreamy. However, the process is VERY involved, as tamales are famous for. So, set aside a few days and get the big kitchenware out. Be prepared to be amazed.

Note: I hardly ever add salt, but it was needed in certain areas of this recipe. I used fine himalayan pink salt for this one.

Butter ... for browning
Garlic ... 4 or 5 cloves
Onion ... 1/2 of a huge one or 1 whole regular
Whole chicken ... Just one
Brown a whole chicken in a large stock pot with butter. Add Garlic and onion.

Boil the buggah for like 2 hours, maybe more. It should faaaall apart when you grab it with tongs. Let it cool right there in the stock, after you turn off the stove. When it is cool enough, put the whole thing in the fridge. Take it out the next day and skim off the fat, then remove the chicken. Shred the meat, you don't need the skin or bones anymore (but you can save them for soup and whatnot. I don't know, you have freedom to do whatever you like, I don't mind)
Put that chicken meat in a biiig mixing bowl and shred it like mad!
Coconut oil ... 1/2 Cup
Chili Powder ... 3 TB
Cumin ... 3 TB
Garlic Powder ... 3 TB
Black Pepper ... 1.5 TB
White Pepper ... 1.5 TB
Salt ... 2 TSP
Red Bell Pepper ... 1/2 of one, diced EXTRA tiny
Green Onions ... 2 stalks, thinly sliced (including white)
Unsweet Coconut Shreds 1/2 cup

Warm the first set of ingredients in a pot on the stove simply to wake up the spices with the oil and then add Red Bell Pepper and Green Onions until the green onions are JUST softening, then turn it off and add salt. Add this to the shredded chicken and knead with your hands (Uh, make sure its cool enough, dude). Knead it some more. It should be brilliantly colored and taste AWESOME. But it should be REALLY well mixed. Don't do anything with the coconut shreds yet.

Coconut Flour ... 2 Cups
Eggs ... 3
Paprika ... 1.5 TB
Salt ... 2 TSP
Cumin ... 1 TB
Chili Powder ... 1.5 TB
Garlic Powder ... 1.5 TB
Coconut Oil ... As Needed (I started with 3/4 cup and went from there)
Chicken Stock ... Some

Knead all together. Add chicken stock if you need to, I believe I ended up using about 1/2 a cup. Knead it like mad! Knead it more than you did the chicken. This is going to take a while, and also be kind of an organic process, by which I mean you'll add more coconut flour, more coconut oil, a bit more chicken stock, until you believe it is JUST right and enough. It should be doughey-sticky. This didn't work at ALL for me until I added my 3rd egg (I started with 2) so don't be afraid to add more eggs, either.


Originally, I was using Ti Leaves to wrap these guys, but my plant didn't produce enough large ones. I'm sure you'd be OK using corn husks (though, they need soaking in advance, I think) but I used FOIL and it worked just fine. I may have felt less cool, but they worked great. Just lay a little rectangle of foil down, greased (I used coconut oil spray... mmm). Then, spoon the dough down and spread it with the back of the spoon. I had never done this before, but I grew up making sushi and stuffs, so I used a sushi roller under the foil and that method. Lay a beautiful layer of chicken down (not all the way to the edges) and-- hey, remember the coconut shreds from up the page?-- Add a line of coconut shreds to the center of the chicken! Now, roll this up and peek in to make sure the dough seals all around, then fold it up and set it aside! Everyone will probably catch on to their own method of rolling these guys after 3 or 4 tamals. Thats it! I made lots of tiny ones and a couple big ones.

When you are done, steam them. They're "supposed" to all be on end in a big steamer, but I didn't have that kind of space, so I just laid mine in my chinese steamer inside of a huge pot. They were a magnificent mound. Steaming takes far longer than I thought it one-- I think it was an hour or more-- but I just kept checking the tamales. They're done when you can peel the foil away from the tamale without it crumbling.

I froze these and took them on my trip-- they worked magnificently! Eat them nice and cold (but thawed) a dipped in Greek Yogurt and Guacamole! ENJOY!


Ke Keiki's Primal Adventure said...

Best road food ever, I am dreaming of them now. Broke da mouth.

Stephanie said...

So glad to have found your blog - This sounds so good! I don't have a Chinese steaming basket, what do you think would be the best way to approach cooking these as an alternative?

Shaleah said...

Oh-- I've steamed things in a big stock pot with a lid before with a colander simply set in a couple inches of water! Just make sure that you keep checking the water level so it doesn't boil dry. It takes a while!

Robin said...

I am trying to make my own tamales and have been met with a little disappointment because the dough doesn't set up. I started searching for help and ran across your recipe. The only difference is that I'm not using egg in my dough because that's not how my family makes traditional tamales. So my question is, did your tamales set up? Will adding egg make all the difference? Do you have a pic of the cooked tamale? Thanks for any feedback you can give me.

Shaleah said...

Hi Robin! You're right--- they're definitely not traditional tamales. Using my ingredients (which avoid using corn and corn oil) I did use eggs and they did set. The trick was using ENOUGH eggs and steaming them for long enough time. If they crumble when you peel back the foil/cornhusk, they haven't steamed long enough! They should come clean. You can find a picture (and several others) here on my flickr. Happy eating-- and let me know how it goes!

Rebecca Friedman, Your Personal Chef! said...

THANK YOU for doing this. I figured it would work and have used coconut flour in place of corn flour for many things, but I so much appreciate not having to do the trial and error work! You ROCK.

Anonymous said...

Do you think parchment paper could be used instead of the aluminum foil? Very interested in trying this recipe as tamales were one of my favorite foods before going on the GAPS Diet.

Starlene @ GAPS Diet Journey said...

I didn't hit send or anything, my comment just went through - I'm "anonymous" asking about the parchment paper. :-)

Shaleah said...

Yes, I do think parchment paper would work! I used parchment paper to make a sort of "steamed bun" using many of the same ingredients (when making Bao the little bun is traditionally set on little squares of paper to steam).

What I think works EVEN BETTER is real corn husks like actual tamales. I don't eat corn at all but I don't feel that any malice came from the actual husks (unless one might have an allergy, but then, I don't believe any sort of corn proteins/sugars would transfer). I like them because they're biodegradable, soft and breathable, yet won't fall apart. Plus, they're cheap and like 'real' tamales!

Starlene @ GAPS Diet Journey said...

Shaleah, thank you for your reply. I am trying the "masa" part of your recipe today. We already have a traditional meat recipe that we love and oh what heaven to taste it again. :-) I think you're right the corn husks might be okay unless a person has an allergy - I might try that next time. Thanks!