If you live in Southern California, Christmas is time for tamales. Your sweet Mexican friends and neighbors will bring you plastic bags, filled with tasty meat fillings encased in tender corn dough. Muchas Gracias, you will say, and Feliz Navidad. Then when your friends turn their backs, you will devour your tamales, all of them. You will want more, and you might get another bagfull, but you surely will only get them in December for Christmas. But if you move away from Southern California, there's a good chance (sniffle) that no one will ever bring you a tamale again. People might even think that you should go and buy your own tamales, because they are available at every movie theatre.Ay caramba, amigos. Hot tamales are good too, but not for Christmas.
So you will have to resort to making your own tamales.
Warning: Making tamales is messy and time-consuming. Proof: My friend Denise and I turned out a cool six dozen in my kitchen; it took all morning to make them and all afternoon to clean them up.
Warning: Tamales are outrageously delicious and terribly addictive. Proof: West has eaten NOTHING but tamales since I made them-lunch, dinner, breakfast, lunch, dinner. If this keeps up, I'm going to rename him Westito and buy him a sombrero.
Last year I gave you the in-depth tamale making guide. You've got to click here to get it. This year, I'm giving you the fillings. I make red chile beef, cheese and green chile, and I usually make tomatillo chicken. But this year, I used my sweet and spicy chicken and it's been the run-away favorite. Here's my new three favorite fillings below, and if you give up before you get them made into tamales, they make super-fantastic tacos, too. Feliz Navidad, either way.
Tamales with Sweet and Spicy Chicken
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken (frozen is fine)
1/3 to 1/2 cup brown sugar (use the higher amount for tamales)
1 14 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
generous pinch of crushed red pepper
Place everything in the crockpot and cook on high for about three hours. Shred with fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chicken will absorb extra juices when shredded.
Tamales with Red Chile Beef
1 3 lb. beef roast, any cut
3 garlic cloves
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 (14 ounce) can Mexican style diced tomatoes with green chilies or jalapenos
2-4 tablespoons chile powder
Place all ingredients in crock pot on high for about 5 hours. Shred with fork and carefully discard fat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Tamales with Cheese and Green Chilies
shredded cheddar cheese and green chilies
optional: chopped olives, green onions, minced jalapeno
My friend Denise brought over some cans and we made some tamales in there too. Haven't steamed them yet, but I'm anxious to find out how they turn out.
I can't get enough of English Toffee Popcorn
Be Back this weekend with the recipe....