Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chili Today, Hot Tamale

Thanksgiving for me often meant traveling with my family to North Carolina to spend the holiday with my mother's extended family. One of the memories from that was a game that I played with my brother and sister, trying to be the first one to spot the next South of the Border sign.

Anyone who has traveled I-95 through the Carolinas has seen these signs every 20 miles or so. They count down the miles to a kitschy tourist trap and have punny slogans like......

South of the Border sign 23 - Pedros Weather Report Chilli Today Hot Tamale

Which brings me to this non-recipe post. Until three years ago, I was a tamale virgin. I'd never had a real tamale. I know, criminal right?

Last week I finally made my first tamales from scratch and much to my surprise they turned out great.

I used Alton Brown's Hot Tamale recipe with an assist from Chilebrown at Mad Meat Genius with the following changes:
  • I used Maseca corn flour since I didn't have enough cornmeal.
  • I used bacon fat instead of lard.
  • I used my leftover smoked Jamaican Jerk pork butt, chopped up with chipotle & adobo sauce for the meat filling.
  • I used chicken stock for the "cooking liquid" since I didn't boil the pork.
  • I steamed the tamales instead of the simmering method.
  • I topped them with a quick cheating chili with beans
These might not have been authentic or perfect, but they were damn good and I can't wait to make another batch before making my first ever Christmas tamales.

What is the last dish that you made where you surprised yourself and thought, "Wow...I can make this!"?