New Orleans-Style Hot Tamales
Hot tamales have been sold for decades on street corners all over New Orleans– usually late at night, from pushcarts, the backs of vans, or from small windows in nondescript buildings. For reasons not clear to me, the last year or two has seen an awakening of interest in hot tamales. Hardly a day goes by when someone doesn’t call into my radio show to ask me where to get those old-time Manuel’s tamales. Those had in common a style that is almost nothing like the tamales from Latin America. And they tend to be on the greasy side, but nobody seems to care.
Warning: These things take forever to make. But the process is calming, and fun to do with friends or kids.
- 1 lb. ground round
- 3 Tbs. corn meal
- 1 tsp. granulated garlic
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne
- 1/4 tsp. white pepper
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1/4 tsp. turmeric
- 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
- Pinch nutmeg
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 large onion, chopped very fine
- 3 cups Maseca (or corn meal)
1. Break up the ground round into a bowl. Add all the other filling ingredients and mix together well with a fork or a heavy whisk.
2. With a tablespoon, scoop out the mixture and roll it out into a cigar shape. Then roll it through the corn meal to stick a thick layer of meal onto the meat mixture.
3. Soak paper tamale wrappers in warm water. Lay a paper out and sprinkle corn meal over it. Place a coated filling “cigar” onto the paper and roll it up, folding in the ends of the papers to completely enclose the tamale.
4. Put the tamales on their sides in a large saucepan or Dutch oven, alternating direction of layers. Pour water enough to cover all the tamales, plus about an inch. Place on medium fire until the water boils. Lower heat to maintain a simmer and cook, with cover on, for an hour and a half to two hours.
Makes about three dozen tamales.