Friday, June 12, 2009

Mississippi Delta Hot Tamales

I love Mexican style tamales, I feasted on them during my time in the South West. It upsets me that it is kind of hard to find them around here. Goya makes an anemic frozen product and a decent place to get them prepared is at Pancho's on Central Ave (see here for some particularly good ones I had there some time back), but other than that we are in a tamale wasteland. I recently learned about another variety of the hot tamale during my research into the Mother in Law Sandwich. Read all about the Mississipi Delta Hot tamale and its history on the Greetings from the Tamale Trail blog. In preparation for assembling the Mother in Law sandwich I prepared some corn-roll style tamales by loosely following the recipe found there.

I began by soaking some corn husks in warm water for a couple of hours.

My favorite Mexican tamales always had pork filling, but it seems that this style generally uses beef. As much as I am loathe to buy meat from Walmart, I let my curiosity about a product sway me to make a purchase. I had been seeing this "Carne Picada" at very reasonable prices.

It is pretty much just stew meat cut thinner, perfect for this application. I dumped the beef (about 2.75 lbs) into a pot of boiling water and let it go for a little over an hour. After this I reserved the liquid and pulsed the meat in a food processor with an onion until finely chopped, but not obliterated. You don't want a paste. Next step is to throw it in a pan with some oil, 2 tablespoons chili powder, tablespoon cumin, tablespoon hot paprika, tablespoon garlic powder, teaspoon cayenne, and plenty of salt and pepper. Only really need to cook the mixture for a couple minutes to let the spices cook a little.

I strained the cooking liquid through some cheese cloth and was left with a nice amount of good stock.

I added about three and a half cups of this stock to 4 cups of yellow cornmeal. Mix in about a cup of lard and season. It should be a nice stiff consistency, not at all soupy.

Now it is time to assemble the tamales. This is fairly simple, just spread a quarter cup of the corn mixture on a husk and spoon some of the meat down the middle. Roll the husk around the filling into a shape about the size of a cigar, fold up the smaller end, and secure with some kitchen ties or string.

To cook the tamales place them closed end down in a large pot. If there is a lot of open space prop them up (I used a bowl) so they don't fall over.

Pour in the remaining stock and then add water until the level is just short of the tamale tops. Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour. You will be left with firm and deliciously tender tamales that fall easily away from the husk.

These came out spectacular. They were the perfect consistency and the meat filling had just the right amount of spice. At this point, I can not wait for tomorrow's project which is to prepare some hot-dog style chili (not chili made from hot dogs, but the kind of chili used as a hot dog topping) and construct the Mother in Law sandwich. I have high hopes for this, I love carb on carb combinations and this is right up my alley.

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  1. agreed pancho's makes a damn good tamale

  2. I was never much of a tamale man, but I'm coming around to them.

    These look delicious, except my mispent youth in georgia makes me want all my mexican food covered in cheese.

  3. Wait for tomorrow Humungus! I thoroughly plan on covering these guys with chili and cheese.

  4. Those look great - I'm going to have to give that a try (I've never made tamales at home.)

    About being loathe to buy meat at Walmart: Take a look at the fine print at the top of the price label. "Enhanced with up to ten % solution." That's why I won't buy Walmart meat (of any kind), Hormel "Always Tender" pork (which is up to 12% "solution") or any other so-called enhanced meat. I'll be damned if I'm going to pay meat prices for salt water.

  5. La Familia that used to be on Madison made very good oaxacan style tamales. I think they're under new ownership though now so I'm not sure how they are anymore. I look forward to trying this though because I miss these.

  6. Salsa Latina on Central Ave. has great beef and chicken tamales.


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