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Hallacas Guajiras De Pollo (Chicken Tamales)

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“This is a recipe for Venezuelan or Colombian style chicken tamales. These are unlike Mexican tamales since they are wrapped in banana leaves rather than corn husks. If you absolutely cannot find banana leaves (I buy them frozen sometimes and always find them in a Latino market) you can just use aluminum foil to make the packets. That would be a pity, though, because the banana leaves impart their flavor to these in a most appealing way. These are really easy, but a little tedious to make. The tendency is to make them too big, so curb your enthusiasm! Pun intended.”
2hrs 30mins
30 packets

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. In a large saucepan, combine chicken, onion, garlic, chopped red and green peppers, green onions, cumin, sazon, salt and water; bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and cook until the chicken is very tender, about an hour (most of the water will have cooked out).
  2. Let cool a bit, then shred chicken, discarding bones and skin.
  3. Place chicken back in the sauce pan and add in the peas and carrots, green beans, capers, minced red bell pepper, and raisins.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the alinos by placing all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and processing to form a paste; you will only use 1/2 cup of this, but the rest can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or frozen for longer storage (it is fantastic in rice, soups, or stews).
  5. Now place the masarepa in a large bowl; add water, salt, 1/2 cup of the alinos, and achiote oil.
  6. Mix with your hands until smooth.
  7. To assemble: On a clean work surface, place a banana leaf, then place another one perpendicular to sort of form a cross.
  8. Spread out about 5 tablespoons (not rounded) in the center and top with 3 tablespoons of the filling.
  9. Make a package by folding up the inner banana leaf, then the other; tie with kitchen string.
  10. Repeat with remaining masa and filling.
  11. Place water under the steamer basket, bring to a boil, reduce heat and steam, covered, until the masa is tender and cooked through, about 45 minutes.

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