I hope everyone had a great Cinco de Mayo yesterday! Mmmmmmm, Mexican food – my favorite of all cuisines, yet I still don’t cook that much of it because here in Los Angeles, great Mexican food at a great price is so easy to come by. Yesterday, though, I was inspired by the fresh corn that is now in season, so I decided to try my hand at tamale making – starting with an easy non-filled tamale: the Sweet Corn Tamale! I used Rick Bayless’ recipe from his website – click here for the recipe. Chef Bayless won on Top Chef Masters with this recipe.
I was not disappointed with these tamales. I opted not to fill with cheese and poblanos because I just wanted to get the tamale part down first. I used some fresh corn husks, but mostly dried husks since they were larger pieces – they both tasted the same to me. The only mistake I made was that I overcooked the tamales just a bit. The recipe says to steam them until the tamales come free from the husks – I checked after about 50 minutes and they were coming free from the husks, but still seemed mushy – this is when I should have removed them from the heat. As they cool, they firm up quite a bit – mine weren’t dry, but they could have been more moist – the flavor though, was delicious. I used a collapsible steamer in my dutch oven to steam these babies – you can also steam them standing upright in a large stockpot. Do not be intimidated by the process of tamale making – these were not that labor intensive at all! Also, these can easily be a vegan dish with the use of Spectrum in place of the butter!
And for a condiment: grilled tomatillo salsa – – grilled tomatillos, grilled jalapeno, some onions, cilantro, and salt – the spiciness of the salsa went great with the sweet tamales. And for a new side dish to try…..how about Arroz Verde from Fine Cooking.com. This recipe got such rave reviews that I had to try it. It was incredibly flavorful and a nice change from the standard red rice. This is the first time in over a year that I have cooked rice outside of a rice cooker and that was a mistake, because the texture was a bit mushy for me. Next time I will make this in the rice cooker. All in all, a great Cinco de Mayo meal. Now I can’t wait to make filled tamales!