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SNewman004

Mississippi Delta Tamales

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What is the best way to execute tamales as an appetizer in a restaurant? I'm looking at 7-10 minute ticket time. I can only think of pre-steaming the tamales and steaming or simmering in sauce to order. Does anyone have any experience with these in the professional kitchen?


Edited by SNewman004 adding tags (log)

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When I catered, we just made them and kept them in a perforated hotel pan set in a warming unit that had water in the bottom. We'd place a clean, wet side towel on top of the tamales to help keep them moist. The trick was making sure the temperature was as low as possible, while still being in the safe zone. -And making sure they were not overcooked when initially cooked. Carryover cooking can be a big issue here, with a large mass of food. Use a thermometer.

 

Some places buy the tamales cold and then heat and store on a steam table for service.

 

Sauce can be held in a warmer and ladled out as needed, you can always mix it up with a cold sauce (crema or queso based) squirted on top of the warm sauce.

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Not in the professional kitchen world, but I often buy Delta tamales in bulk when I'm visiting Helena, AR, or Clarksdale, MS, two places where I can get some of my favorites. I freeze them in batches of three in plastic bags, and microwave them from frozen to the warm point. Then I cover them with chili (to be authentic, it should be the cheap grocery store canned variety), microwave until hot, add grated cheese and a stack of Saltines, and go to it.

 

I think I have three left. Must make a Helena run soon. Only because it's closer than Clarksdale.

 

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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Hi folks. I'm new to this forum and unsure of the community attitude toward bumping old threads. Lived most my life in the West and the South. After moving to Memphis twenty-odd years ago was surprised to discover the delta tamale tradition. I was mainly accustomed to the kind made in California according to elaborate holiday traditions or by a talented semi-pro artesans, usually called "The Tamale Lady," apparently a very successful franchise operating in every So. Ca. community with a genuine abuelita, or within reasonable distance of a barrio worthy of the name. Found a beautiful 15-year-old eG thread about these here.

 

 

The Delta tamales that Robert Johnson and his musical tutors (no, not the devil) knew and loved were typically simmered, not steamed, and rooted in workingman lunches and Juke Joint fare. It seems to be a dying art. The ones I've seen Memphis are either based on la abuela's recipes described above or, hearbreakingly sad,  doctored up Hormel Tamales from a can.

 

Thinking about this is making my mouth water. ... I do have some corn husks...

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I confess to growing up on Hormel's.  My family ended up in the Washington DC area, but came from the Delta.  We were the only folks I knew who ate these.  My first taste of Mexican tamales was when we lived in LA when the year I was 10.  Those tamales were completely different from Hormel - not just the quality or flavor.  I never got the connection between tamales and Mississippi until I got into food as an adult.  I finally tasted my first Delta tamale when we visited Memphis last year.  They were a LOT spicier than Hormel!  xD  But I got the connection between them and what I'd grown up on.  Since I am not a fan of spice, I'll stick with my Hormel!:blush:

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Don't know where to find them in Memphis...I would try a soul food place, maybe ask at Alcenia's on South Main or the Four Way Grill, whose address I disremember. Or you could head south to Helena, AR and visit the food truck in the parking lot if the Sears store on 49 N and get a batch of Pasquale's. Or go on down to Clarksdale, Miss., to Larry's or Abe's, or if you're staying on the west side of the river, my personal favorite, Rhoda's in Lake Village (get pie, too). If you go that far, do NOT fail to cross the river and have the tamales as an app for your steak at Doe's.


Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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1 hour ago, kayb said:

Don't know where to find them in Memphis...I would try a soul food place, maybe ask at Alcenia's on South Main or the Four Way Grill, whose address I disremember. Or you could head south to Helena, AR and visit the food truck in the parking lot if the Sears store on 49 N and get a batch of Pasquale's. Or go on down to Clarksdale, Miss., to Larry's or Abe's, or if you're staying on the west side of the river, my personal favorite, Rhoda's in Lake Village (get pie, too). If you go that far, do NOT fail to cross the river and have the tamales as an app for your steak at Doe's.

1

Thanks for the advice kayb. The local paper recently reported Larry's in Clarksdale closed but they reopened on N. Getwell in Memphis. Haven't been there yet though. There are a number of food trucks, one within walking distance, that do Mexican food very well. Haven't sampled the tamales. I'll probably make a small batch in the next week or so. 


Edited by OldHobo correct grammar (log)

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52 minutes ago, Kim Shook said:

The one that I ate in Memphis was at Payne's.  On another note, I just realized that I never added my Memphis food report - it was back in June 2016.  A little late now.

In Memphis, BBQ is either pork shoulder or pork ribs. The chopped pork sandwiches at Payne's BBQ are among the best in town and the only thing I've had there.  Here is the menu. Nowadays I eat out on average less than once a month. So for the most part, if I can't make it at home I don't eat it.


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2 minutes ago, OldHobo said:

In Memphis, BBQ is either pork shoulder or pork ribs. The chopped pork sandwiches at Payne's BBQ is among the best in town and the only thing I've had there.  Here is the menu. Nowadays I eat out on average less than once a month. So for the most part, if I can't make it at home I don't eat it.

I meant that the tamale I ate in Memphis was at Payne's.  We loved Payne's BBQ.  Also, they sell one of the best cookies I've ever tasted: "Eric's Momma Homemade Butter Cookies".  Amazing.

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6 minutes ago, Kim Shook said:

Eric's Momma Homemade Butter Cookies

They're very popular. I've gotten them at mom n pop gas station/convenience/grocery/lunch counter type places of which there are many in Memphis. Here is more about them.

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On 10/26/2017 at 5:04 PM, OldHobo said:

Thanks for the advice kayb. The local paper recently reported Larry's in Clarksdale closed but they reopened on N. Getwell in Memphis. Haven't been there yet though. There are a number of food trucks, one within walking distance, that do Mexican food very well. Haven't sampled the tamales. I'll probably make a small batch in the next week or so. 

 

 

Did not know Larry's had moved to Memphis. Will have to make that trek and look next time I'm over that way. Thanks for the link. Used to hang in that area some, back in my younger and more foolish days, when it wasn't the 'hood.

 


Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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1 hour ago, Steve Irby said:

Here's a few photo's from a recent trip through the MS Delta following the Tamale Trail -https://www.southernfoodways.org/interview/hot-tamales-the-mississippi-delta/

 

 

 

 

Beautiful post, Steve. Thanks.

Last Thursday I posted a link to Robert Johnson on "They're Red Hot." For those boomers who can't imagine music before they were born, here's Eric Clapton covering him note for note. Too bad some redneck kept parking his bike in front of your camera though. :D

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