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Cornmeal Tamales?

DCRIII

Contributor
So, I've been unable to get my hands on corn masa to make tamales due to the current state of things, but I do have plenty of cornmeal.
With no luck in my search for a tamale recipe that aloe for corneal instead of masa, I now turn to the fine members of B&B for help. Does any have a recipe for, and or made, tamales that use cornmeal in the place of masa?
Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 
Impossible. However, white cornmeal might be used to make Venezuelan arepas.

You can make cornmeal mush by steaming a mixture of cornmeal, water, salt and possibly bacon fat. Mush can be pan fried after it cools.

Other possibilities would be New England Jonnycakes or Southern Hoecakes or Hush Puppies.

Italian polenta recipes can be made with cornmeal.
 
 

DCRIII

Contributor
Impossible. However, white cornmeal might be used to make Venezuelan arepas.

You can make cornmeal mush by steaming a mixture of cornmeal, water, salt and possibly bacon fat. Mush can be pan fried after it cools.

Other possibilities would be New England Jonnycakes or Southern Hoecakes or Hush Puppies.

Italian polenta recipes can be made with cornmeal.
Thank you for these ideas, I'll look into them and see what I can pull off with what I have on hand.
My main end goal is to make something edible, so if tamales are out, I can at least make something else. Flexibility and the willingness to try new things is key right now.
 
The author of that article is unfortunately all wrong. Masa Harina is a precooked product made from dough of corn treated with alkali (aka nixtamal). A squeeze of lime juice on cornmeal is not the same as corn that has been boiled with lime (calcium hydroxide) or wood ash (potassium hydroxide) and ground. Cornmeal has no elasticity to speak of. If you tried to make tortillas from cornmeal they would just break and fall apart. If you don't have the right ingredients, just make something else that uses the ingredients on hand.
 

DCRIII

Contributor
Thank you for sharing this article. It gives me hope that I might be able to pull off something resembling tamales. I have the the means to turn the cornmeal into a finer consistency and plenty of flour, so all hope is not lost.
I'll be sure to share my successes and failures as I experiment.
 
The author of that article is unfortunately all wrong. Masa Harina is a precooked product made from dough of corn treated with alkali (aka nixtamal). A squeeze of lime juice on cornmeal is not the same as corn that has been boiled with lime (calcium hydroxide) or wood ash (potassium hydroxide) and ground. Cornmeal has no elasticity to speak of. If you tried to make tortillas from cornmeal they would just break and fall apart. If you don't have the right ingredients, just make something else that uses the ingredients on hand.
Adding AP flour will add gluten and elasticity. I think we all, including the author, understand that lime juice isn't a substitute for the process however shes trying to lower the ph slightly to mimic masa.

The OP is trying to make tamales with cornmeal. Obviously its not going to be perfect but you can approximate it. I don't see why you're being so closed minded instead of trying to come up with creative solutions.
 
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Adding AP flour will add gluten and elasticity. I think we all, including the author, understand that lime juice isn't a substitute for the process however shes trying to lower the ph slightly to mimic masa.

The OP is trying to make tamales with cornmeal. Obviously its not going to be perfect but you can approximate it. I don't see why you're being so closed minded instead of trying to come up with creative solutions.

You could approximate other dishes using cornmeal mush, pancakes, flatbread, corn pone, polenta, whatever. But it is not a tamale.
I did suggest other dishes in my first post here. That is not closed minded. Making something you do have the ingredients for is sensible and creative.

 
I did suggest other dishes in my first post here. That is not closed minded. Making something you do have the ingredients for is sensible and creative.

And trying alternate ways to put a dish together is also creative and sensible. All recipes are a result of people trying different things, which is why I consider your response closed minded.

At a minimum, this post got me thinking how I would personally try to make tamales without masa, which is a good thing.
 

DCRIII

Contributor
Gentlemen, I understand and appreciate both side of your argument, but there's no need for hostility towards one another.
An experiment is already in the works and I look forward to sharing my results and the recipe attempted regardless of success or failure.
If successful, and by no means traditional, I'll have something that resembles a tamale.
If a failure, I will know what doesn't work and only be out a small amount of ingredients. Possibly super moist corn muffins will be achieved.
Either way, I don't have much to loose and lots of time on my hands.
 
And trying alternate ways to put a dish together is also creative and sensible. All recipes are a result of people trying different things, which is why I consider your response closed minded.

At a minimum, this post got me thinking how I would personally try to make tamales without masa, which is a good thing.
If you want to make something that tastes good with cornmeal and Tex-Mex ingredients, maybe try a "Tamale Pie" or "Tamale Casserole" which is a favorite at church suppers. Traditional tamales made with cornmeal will crumble to open-minded pieces.
 

TexLaw

Fussy Evil Genius
Contributor
Search for "hot tamales" (Southern, Louisiana, Mississippi). They aren't the Mexican sort that you're thinking about, but I grew up on the things. They might scratch the itch for the time being.
 

DCRIII

Contributor
Okay, here are my results, pictures, and recipes for this little experiment.

There are two different recipes.
I didn't add filling to either for this test. I just wanted to know how the dough would work out.
Picture of the finished product will be included.

First recipe: Modified White Cornmeal
Second recipe: Yellow Jiffy Cornmeal Muffin Mix (recipe deviations)

So for the modified white cornmeal recipe, I used a Magic Bullet blended to turn the cornmeal into more of a flour. Still courser than corn starch, but has the same crunch feel to it when squeezed in your hands. I did this 1/4 cup at a time.
So now for the recipe.
- 2 cups modified white cornmeal
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups Luke warm broth (I used 4 bouillon cubes added to 2 cups boiling water and cooled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 2/3 cups pork lard
Incorporate the lard into the dry ingredients until throughly blended. Then add your broth. Mix until you have a smooth dough. Spread out 2 to 2.5 tablespoons of dough onto the corn husk, add filling at this stage, and wrap.

Now for the Jiffy corn muffin mix, I deviated from the instructions. I added broth and flour to make a dough.
This recipe is sweeter, but the flour and salty broth helps to balance this.

So,
- One 8.5 ounce box of Jiffy corn muffin mix
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup broth
Through mix the muffin mix with the flour, then mix in the broth until you form a smooth dough.
Spread 2 to 2.5 tablespoons onto corn husk, add filling, and wrap.

I steamed both recipes together for 1 hour.
The modified white cornmeal recipe turned out the best, and I couldn't be happier with it. It's pretty darn close to the real thing and tastes great.

The corn muffin mix recipe will work if nothing else is available, but it sticks to the corn husk horribly. Possibly greasing the husk lightly with lard might alleviate this issue. Taste good, but noticeably sweeter. Adding a filling and topping with a red sauce would certainly balance this out.

20200329_140042.jpg 20200329_135829.jpg 20200329_135735.jpg
 
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TexLaw

Fussy Evil Genius
Contributor
I'm glad you were able to make something work.

Just the thought of using Jiffy mix for tamales made me throw up in my mouth a little bit.
 
Interesting to me as it's hard enough to do good tamales even with the right stuff!

Good ideas posted here.
 

DCRIII

Contributor
I'm glad you were able to make something work.

Just the thought of using Jiffy mix for tamales made me throw up in my mouth a little bit.
Jiffy certainly wasn't my first choice as I'm not a fan of sweet cornbread, but tough times call for tough palettes. I'm just happy that I had plan corn meal on hand.
Interesting to me as it's hard enough to do good tamales even with the right stuff!

Good ideas posted here.
Like anything, practice makes perfect.
I've made my own tamales for nearly 20 years now. My first few attempts weren't the greatest and I've had a couple out right failures.

The only thing more fun than learning how to make tamales is watching someone that's never eaten them before trying to eat one still wrapped in the corn husk.
True story. About 17 years ago I had a girlfriend that had never eaten tamales before and I decided to make them for her. Since she couldn't handle spicy anything and didn't want the sauce I made to put on them, I served her tamales still wrapped in the husk. Well, while preparing my plate, I hear her say, "how do you eat these things"! She had picked one up like a burrito and was trying to bite through the corn husk. I nearly wet myself I was laughing so hard!
To this day, if you're in the kitchen while I wrap up tamales, there's a good chance you'll hear me start chuckling for no reason at all because of the memory of her trying to eat the corn husk comes back to me!
 
Ingredients
14 large corn husks (available at Latin markets and many grocery stores)

1 2- to 3-pound rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat shredded (about 6 cups)

1 cup shredded Mexican-blend cheese

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish

1/2 cup frozen green peas

1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, drained and halved

2 cups bottled green salsa

2 cups self-rising yellow cornmeal mix


Directions
Place the corn husks in warm water; soak for 30 minutes, or until they're soft and pliable.
While the husks soak, stir together the chicken, cheese, cilantro, peas, olives and salsa in a bowl. Add the cornmeal mix and stir until combined.
Remove 2 corn husks from the water. Tear into 12 thin strips for tying up the tamales; set aside.
Unfold a soaked husk, wide-end up, on a work surface. Starting at the top edge, spoon 2/3 cup filling down the center and mold into a 4-by-2-inch rectangle, leaving room at the bottom for folding.
Roll up the tamale jelly roll-style to enclose the filling. Fold up the bottom end of the husk and tie with one of the strips of husk. Repeat with the remaining husks, filling and ties.
Add 1 inch of water to a deep pot with a tight-fitting lid; place a steamer basket in the pot. Arrange the tamales upright (closed-end down) in the basket. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat; cover and steam the tamales for 25 minutes, adding more water as needed.
Carefully remove the tamales from the steamer and let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter; untie and open the husks, then garnish the tamales with chopped fresh cilantro.

Not exactly traditional but I have fixed them and they are tasty and just use corn meal
 
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