Tamales de rajas con queso are tamales filled with roasted poblano peppers and cheese. These make a great meatless and affordable filling option for tamales.
Every year my family looks forward to tamale season, which is around the holidays. This makes sense because tamales are like a present you unwrap to eat.
If you’ve made tamales before, then you’ll understand they can be a labor of love. But if you are making tamales for the first time, this recipe is for you!
This recipe for tamales de rajas con queso, or poblanos and cheese is perfect for a beginner. Here’s why:
- This recipe is for a small batch, it makes 14-16 tamales. If it doesn’t turn out right the first time, you didn’t waste a lot of ingredients.
- The masa is made in a stand mixer, which is easier and faster.
- The tamales are cooked in the instant pot in 30 minutes instead of an hour plus on the stove.
You can find the ingredients to make tamales at a Hispanic or Latin market. Large chain grocery stores will also have corn husks during the holiday months.
The filling is just 2 ingredients:
- Roasted Poblanos
- Oaxaca cheese (or substitute mozzarella or Monterrey jack)
Roast whole poblano peppers under the broiler or over a gas flame until they become blistered. Place the peppers in a heat safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap to allow them to steam.
After a few minutes, remove the plastic wrap and peel off the outer skin of the poblano. Remove the stem and all the seeds from the pepper. Slice or tear into strips.
Oaxaca cheese will come either in strips or a ball. If using the ball of Oaxaca, shred the cheese. If using the strips, slice them into small strips like pictured above.
How to Make the Masa
If you don’t have a mixer, then use the traditional method of needing the masa with your hands. Fair warning, this will take you a good 20 minutes of mixing with your hands.
For the mixer method, combine the masa flour, salt, and baking powder. Then add the oil and mix again. With the mixer on low speed, start slowly adding the warm broth.
Once all the broth is added continue mixing for about 10 minutes and scraping down the sides as needed. The masa should be light and fluffy, but still have some structure. It should not be runny.
Taste a little of the masa and add additional salt if needed. The salt addition will depend if you are using a low sodium or regular chicken broth.
Prepping the Corn Husks
Corn husks or hojas, come dried and need to be cleaned and rehydrated before using. Start by picking out any husks that have a lot of spots, and toss those.
Rinse the remaining good husks to remove any dirt or debris. Heat water in a large pot. Once the water is warm, turn off the heat and place the husks in the water.
Push the corn husks down and rotate them to rehydrate. Allow the husks to soak in the water for 10-20 minutes or until they are soft and pliable.
Remove the corn husks from the pot and allow them to dry before assembling the tamales.
How to Assemble the Tamales
Now for the fun part, assembling the tamales. If you’re planning on making a larger batch, gather some kitchen helpers to make an assembly line. This is what we do during the holidays to make several dozen tamales.
Get a clean and dried corn husk, or overlap 2 small ones together. Spread an even layer of masa on the top half of the husk.
Add a piece of cheese or layer shredded cheese, and 2 pieces of poblanos.
Fold one side over, then the other side, and fold the bottom part up. Smooth the tamale to distribute the masa evenly.
If the tamale won’t stay closed, use a strip of husk to tie around the tamale and hold it in place.
The tamales can be steamed right away, or they can be kept covered in the refrigerator overnight.
How to Cook Tamales in the Instant Pot
Add 1 cup of water to the instant pot, then place the steam basket inside. Layer the tamales upright with the opening on top.
I placed the larger tamales around the edge and the smaller ones inside.
Place the lid on and the valve to sealing. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. Allow the pressure to release for 10 minutes, then release the remaining pressure.
(Note: In my first recipe I did 20 minutes, but after some feedback and testing additional recipes, 30 minutes seemed better.)
Remove the tamales from the instant pot, and allow them to rest for at least 15 minutes. Very important! The masa needs time to cool and set.
Once the tamales have cooled, the husks should remove easily from the tamal. If the masa is still doughy, then place them back in the instant pot and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can make the masa a day ahead of time and keep it refrigerated. Just remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before making the tamales.
Yes, and since these tamales do not contain a meat filling, they can be assembled and stored in the refrigerator for 4 days. I don’t recommend freezing uncooked tamales, but you can freeze cooked tamales.
Another option would be banana leaves. If you can’t find either of these then you can use parchment paper as a last resort.
How to Serve and Store
Remove the husks before eating the tamal. These tamales de rajas con queso are delicious on their own, or can be served with crema and salsa verde.
I enjoy eating tamales for breakfast with a fried egg on top, so good!
Cooked/Cooled tamales can be stored in a container or zip top bag in the refrigerator for 5 days or in the freezer for a couple of months.
To reheat refrigerated tamales, place a damp paper towel over them and microwave for 1-2 minutes until heated through.
Keep the corn husk on the tamale while you reheat them to prevent them from drying out, then remove husk before eating.
Tamales de Rajas con Queso Recipe
- Rinse corn husks and remove any dirt or debris. Toss any husks that have black spots on them. Smaller husks can be used by overlapping 2 together.
- Heat a large pot of water, once warm turn off the heat and add the corn husks into the water. Rotate them to ensure they all get rehydrated. Allow the husks to soak for 20 minutes or until they are soft and pliable.
- Remove the husks from the pot and allow to dry on a kitchen towel
- Place poblanos over a flame or under a broiler until blistered on all sides. Add them to a heat-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 5 minutes to soften.
- Remove the outer skin of the poblanos, along with the stem and all the seeds. Shred the poblano into strips and set aside.
- In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add corn flour, salt, baking powder, and avocado oil. Begin mixing on low speed to incorporate.
- Gradually add in warm chicken broth as the mixer is still going on low speed. Once all the broth is added increase the speed to medium. Keep mixing and scraping down the sides of the bowl every few minutes until a soft smooth dough forms.
- Taste a little bit of masa for seasoning. If more salt is needed, add salt and mix the dough again. Since the filling is simple, the masa needs to have good flavor. If making tamales right away then set aside, otherwise cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Take one dried corn husk and place on a work surface. If the husk is too small then overlap 2 together.
- Spread an even layer of masa in the Top half of the husk. Add cheese and roasted poblanos. Fold one side over, then the other, and bring the bottom half up. If the tamale doesn't stay folded, tear a piece of husk and tie it around the tamale.
Cooking the Tamales
- Instant Pot Method: Add 1 cup of water to the instant pot and the steamer basket inside. If cooking multiple batches, add 1 cup of water each time. Layer the tamales standing up, with the opening on top.
- Set the timer to high pressure for 30 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes then release the remaining pressure.
- Remove the steamer basket and allow the tamales to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. The husk should easily remove from the tamal.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate only and depends on ingredients and amounts used. Thai Caliente makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.