This is a brilliant recipe invented by Suzie Trivisonno, my new friend from Charlotte, North Carolina who entered our locavore competition last summer and submitted what we felt was the most original recipe using ingredients from 50 miles near her home. I was so happy to visit Charlotte and her lovely home with its beautiful garden (complete with resident turtles!) and learn how to make tamales.
Makes about 24 tamales
1 Pound dried corn husks
For the dough:
1 Cup Cornmeal
1 1/2 Cups Masa Harina
2 Cups Boiling Water
1 Cup Unsalted Butter
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
3/4 Cup Whole Milk
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
For the filling:
3 Cups peaches (about 1 pound), roughly diced
3 Cups blackberries (about 1 pound), hulled, and chopped
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper, freshly ground
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Anise Seeds, toasted
1 Cup Almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
Select 24 of the biggest corn husks and soak in water overnight. Pat dry and refrigerate until ready to use. Tear 48 thin strips from some of the remaining husks. Reserve several husks for lining the steamer. Set aside.
To make the dough, whisk the cornmeal and masa harina in a bowl to combine. Add boiling water and mix well. Set aside for about an hour. Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and cornmeal mixture; beat until well blended. Add the milk, salt and baking powder; mix until well blended. Set aside until ready to assemble tamales.
To make the filling, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
To make the tamale, spread about 3 – 4 tablespoons of the dough on the smooth side of the husk leaving a generous border on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, place 1 – 2 tablespoons of the filling down the center of the dough. Fold the husk lengthwise around the dough and filling. Tie the ends with a strip of thin corn husk. Repeat until all the filling is used.
To steam the tamales, line a steamer with any leftover corn husks. Place the tamales in the steamer, and cover with more husks and a damp towel. Cover tightly and steam over medium heat for about an hour and a half.
Serve with a fresh lightly sweetened pureed berry sauce and fresh berries.
What I Like About This Recipe
This recipe is based on the traditional cuisine of Northern New Mexico. What I like about it is that is is adaptable to the fresh fruits and flavors of anywhere and everywhere. I have made it with fresh mangoes and coconut, served with key lime curd; peaches and pecans, with a praline sauce; apricots and fresh ginger…. These tamales can be made in advance, they freeze well and are a fun family / group project to make. I like that the dish is so flavorful, and rustic yet elegant when served.
I am a Native New Mexican and grew up eating and learning to make the best of Northern New Mexican cuisine. Savory tamales were tradionally served at Christmastime. As a chile I remember hopping the fence each year to help a neighbor make tamales for her extended family. Every ingredient used came from her family’s farm. When I told her I could eat tamales for every meal, including dessert, we began to experiment. We started with apples from her orchard , and rhubarb that grew like weeds. That was over fifty years ago, and this recipe is the evolution of those early experience.
- Gogofresco is a mobile farm stand that supports locally grown food, selling it at Charlottes ‘food deserts’ where people don’t’ have access to local fruits and vegetables, or at local community centers, where they donate part of their profits. To find out more, go to: Gogofresco.org
- To buy Carolina salt:
Carolina Salt Works: you can order it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Carolina-Sea-Salt/dp/B008ZHZ6LS
- To buy Carolina cornmeal:
Blue Ribbon Cornmeal: http://www.lakesidemills.com/blue_ribbon_products.htm
For more information on the locations we visited and things to do in South Carolina, please go to:
- Cornwall Center at Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC
Cornwell Center is a community center and home a community Friendship Garden where produce is grown to donate to Meals-On-Wheels and other programs for homebound people. Fun note: the TV series ‘Homeland’ also uses this location in many shots!