Banana leaf tamales are full of flavor and are perfect during the holiday season!
Put all the ingredients for the chicken in a pot and bring to a boil. Skim off the foam that rises to the top. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
When the chicken is done transfer it to a large bowl to cool. Strain and reserve the broth. Shred the chicken.
Put the chilies and tomatoes in a pot and cover with water. Boil for 10 minutes. Then transfer them to a blender and let cool for about 10 minutes. Then add the onion, garlic, whole cloves, oregano, black pepper, cumin, chicken bouillon and 3 cups of the reserved chicken broth. Blend until you have a smooth salsa.
Heat up tablespoon of lard in a pot over medium heat. Once hot strain in the salsa and let cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Add the shredded chicken to the pot. Remove from heat and set aside.
Put the masa in a large bowl and break up into small pieces.
Slowly add in 1 liter of the reserved chicken broth while mixing with your hands.
Continue to mix with your hands breaking up the pieces until you get a smooth consistency.
Put the 2 cups of lard in a pot over medium heat. Once hot add the masa and stir. Add in the hoja santa crushing it with your hands.
Stir the masa continuously for about 10 minutes. The masa will get thicker. Slowly add another liter and a half of chicken broth while continuing to stir for about 15 minutes. Taste the masa for salt and add to your liking. After 15 minutes the masa will have thickened.
Clean the defrosted banana leaves with a paper towel and cut them into 11 inch wide rectangles.
Put 3 tbs of masa on the center of the banana leaf. Then add 2 tbs of the chicken filling on top.
Fold one half of the banana leaf over the masa.
Then fold the other side.
Then fold in both ends to close the tamale.
Repeat the above steps until the masa and filling is gone.
Fill a steamer pot with water and add the tamales to the pot.
Bring the water in the pot to a boil then cover the steamer and reduce heat to medium low.
Cook for 2 hours.
After the tamales have finished steaming let them rest for about 10 minutes to firm up.
Serve and enjoy.
Refrigerate any leftovers after they have cooled down.