Saturday, July 2, 2011

White Girl Tamales!

Okay, I'm super excited about this recipe.  See?  There's this abuela who rides in a broke down green Chevy Astro around our neighborhood selling tamales out of the backseat.  The problem?  There is no rhyme nor reason to when she'll drive by.  (No, mom, the problem is not that I'm buying food out of a random stranger's van.  Stranger danger only applies to candy.)   Unlike the ice cream trucks that drive by at least once every hour all day long, all year long, the tamale abuela is much more of a rarity.  Unfortunate, because her tamales rock my socks!  So, when I found this recipe, I couldn't wait to try it.  Sure, I'm all for authenticity, but I know my attempts couldn't stack up, so white girl tamales all around!!

The problem with this recipe is that it wanted me to make my cornbread from scratch.  I understand that some people may find this to be a positive, but knowing that I have a box of Jiffy Muffin Mix, or something similar means I plan on being lazy and just adding the ingredients I need.  My surprise?  For once, there's no Jiffy in the pantry.  However, I did have a box of Krusteaz Natural Honey Cornbread .  Double bonus, since you only need to add water to make it a mix!

I started by chopping the pepper, and spreading it throughout the bottom of a well greased pie dish.  Truth?  I used a whole pepper, and I probably should have used two pie plates since mine are small.  However, I figured I was going for the "cram it in" approach, and all is fair in love and tamales!  I then made my taco meat the way I normally would.  I just added taco seasoning instead of many of the other ingredients, since taco mix generally contains all of them anyway.  Plus, we buy McCormick Taco Seasoning Mix in the bulk size, so it only makes sense to keep with what you've got instead of starting from scratch every time.
Speaking of things already in the house, I still had two-thirds of a block of pepper jack cheese. I just shredded the whole thing and added it to the cornbread mix. I didn't measure it - figured it needed to get used, and who hates cheesy cornbread/tamales anyway?   I followed the directions after that, I swear! I put part of the mix over the peppers and tried to spread it out as best I could. Turns out my mix was very thick (what with all the cheese and all), so I had to spread it out with my fingers, otherwise the peppers kept moving with the mix.

I then added the completed taco meat/salsa mixture, and then topped it all off with the rest of the cornbread mix.  I baked it per the recipe, although it did finish up about 3 minutes quicker than expected.  Could be my mix, could be how it was overflowing anyway.  Who knows?  I'm just saying know your oven and watch your food!

Now, the tricky part...  You're supposed to invert this on to a plate.  Now, I can't say that's the scary part.  I make pull apart (monkey bread) rolls and kick butt at inverting that mess, but if you remember back about two paragraphs, this mix was very thick, and it was difficult to spread.  I feared that my tamale pie would be three separate layers, and the taco meat layer would send the bottom (now top) layer flying.  Like any good wife, I connived convinced my husband that he should try the inversion process and I'd supervise take pictures.  Lucky duck - it worked like a charm!
It might not be the prettiest tamale you've ever seen, but I do believe I qualified that this was a white girl tamale and there was no holds barred!  We sliced it up and served it with lettuce - I'm not sure what my shredded lettuce obsession is, just go with it!  Thomas said it could have used something else, maybe more salsa or some guacamole, but I thought for a fake tamale it was pretty darn good (and it held its shape pretty well)!

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