Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tamale cornbread dressing

tamale cornbread dressing

The first time I heard of tamales used as a stuffing was in Mary Faulk Koock’s The Texas Cookbook, where she tells a story about a friend of hers in Amarillo who packs his turkey with dozens of tamales before throwing it on a grill and slathering it with barbecue sauce.

“Brilliant!” I said to myself. “I must try that!”

Of course, with no outdoor space I knew that my opportunities to grill a turkey were limited. But using tamales as a stuffing (or dressing, as we say down South), was very intriguing.

In my family, my uncle is on dressing duty every year so it’s not a dish I’ve spent much time making or refining. But I couldn’t stop thinking about incorporating tamales into the dressing, especially since tamales embrace some of the finer qualities of a dressing with their soft, steamed dough wrapped around a piquant, flavorful filling. And when you throw in some crumbled cornbread and roasted jalapeños, you’ve taken something traditional and elevated it to something unique.

tamale cornbread dressing

Even though I'll be celebrating Thanksgiving with my family at my grandma’s farm, I’m a firm believer that feasting well and showing gratitude shouldn’t just be limited to one day. It’s for this reason my friends and I often get together and throw an early Thanksgiving dinner before we travel for the holiday. And when I learned I was on side-dish duty, I knew just what I would make.

A little poking around led me to a few recipes for tamale cornbread dressing. Interestingly, most of them hailed from Austin though I did find one from the Rio Grande Valley. After much thought, I decided to adapt an Austin Chronicle recipe that appealed to me because it had lots of cheese and corn. I also threw in some cilantro, cumin and garlic for more flavor, and in a nod to my uncle’s dressing I swapped out the poblano chiles for jalapeños, which added more fire and pop to each bite.

While I made mine with beef tamales, it would be just as good with pork, chicken, turkey or any other type of tamale that you prefer. This recipe makes enough to serve eight hungry people, though it can easily be doubled if you have a larger crowd.



If you love cornbread and tamales, this dressing is for you. Sure, it’s special enough for the big feast, but I have a feeling it will be making more appearances in my kitchen during the colder months, especially if I have leftover cornbread I want to use. After all, as my uncle says, dressing is one of the ultimate comfort foods.

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Looking for additional Thanksgiving recipes? Here you go: pecan pie, giblet gravy, sweet potato biscuits and more Thanksgiving menu ideas.

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Tamale cornbread dressing (adapted from the Austin Chronicle)

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups crumbled cornbread, (1/2 of a baked 10-inch skillet)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 jalapeños, seeds and stems removed, diced
1 cup frozen corn kernels
4 ounces pepper Jack, shredded (1 cup)
6 beef, pork or chicken tamales, chopped
2 cups turkey or chicken broth
Salt and black pepper to taste

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large cast-iron skillet, melt the butter on medium-low heat. Add the onions to the skillet and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.

Once cooked, remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the cooked onions and garlic to a large bowl. Add to the large bowl the crumbled cornbread, cumin, sage, cilantro, corn kernels, diced jalapeños and pepper Jack cheese. Stir until well combined. Gently stir in the chopped tamales, and return the dressing to the skillet. (Alternatively, you can place the dressing in a greased 9x9 baking dish.)

Pour over the dressing the chicken broth and gently stir to combine. Adjust seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste. Cover the skillet with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 more minutes or until top is lightly browned and the edges are crisp.

Yield: 8 servings

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49 comments:

Becky said...

Looks delicious!

Amber Robinson said...

This sounds so good, I'm dying to try it! I love trying your recipes and have not been disappointed. Thanks for sharing!

Kate Mary Betty said...

I don't see the roasted jalapenos in the ingredient list...are they in the tamales or are they MIA from the recipe?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Becky--Thank you!

Amber--You're very welcome. Thank you for reading!

Kate Mary Betty--This is why I need an editor! Thank you for spotting that--it's been added to the recipe.

donna!ee said...

WOW, YMUUY! thank you much for sharing! :)

Heather @ chiknpastry said...

this looks great! and thanks for saying dressing - i usually almost say dressing but then realize that people won't understand me anymore since i'm not living in the south :(.

Bria @ West of Persia said...

Just brilliant, Lisa. I will be trying this sooner rather than later...I might just "accidentally" make extra cornbread for this year's Thanksgiving dressing, and use that.

Heather @ girlichef.com said...

Ooohhhh...I love this idea! I don't think I'll be able to get it out of my mind until I try it, either.

penandra said...

Lisa: I love that Clay and Zack (over at the Bitten Word blog) do something similar to what you do with your friends . . . and call it "Fakesgiving"! My friends and I are doing the same thing this year (the weekend AFTER Thanksgiving! ;-)

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

donna!ee--You're very welcome!

Heather @ chiknpastry--I know! Up north, it's stuffing country!

Bria @ West of Persia--That sounds like a plan!

Heather @ girlichef.com --Hope you enjoy it!

Penandra--That's brilliant! And may you and your friends have a wonderful Fakesgiving!

Julie @ Willow Bird Baking said...

OH MY GOSH I'm making this as soon as possible! I've been craving something like this (I've considered Mexican cornbread, corn pudding, cornbread pudding, etc.) for the longest, and this recipe just intensifies the craving!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Julie--If you've been craving those dishes, this will definitely meet your needs!

Lauren at TwIn Style said...

Mmm, this sounds delicious. I usually eat tamales only once per year, when I slather them in my dad's chili on Christmas Eve. For Thanksgiving, I always make my grandma's cornbread dressing (complete with li'l smokies and hot breakfast sausage), and I'd never stray from that, but this would be great for a pot luck. Out of curiosity, did you buy these tamales or make them?

The Galley Gourmet said...

I use cornbread in my dressing, but after seeing this, I want a Tex-Mex themed Thanksgiving in the future!

Sherry said...

Great post. And double YUM!

maisouiparis said...

Wow- and I thought jalapenos were hard to find in Paris. Now I am dreaming of tamales???? I'm thinking Thanksgiving in July, when I'm home and both jalapenos and tamales are plentiful! Thanks for giving me something else to look forward to!

Margie Orr said...

This sounds incredible. Who would have thought! Thanks for posting. Can't wait to try it. Have a dozen pork tamales in the freezer now. Got to get the cornbread cooking. Nothing like dressing. You're right--dressing is a comfort food.

Anonymous said...

This sounds great. I wish I could get fresh tamales, but I am definitely going to try this recipe.

Martha T

Judy & Bill Rouse aboard S/V BeBe said...

We are in Cyprus so tamales are out of the question right now. But we are flying to Houston for Christmas and this tamale dressing will definitely be on the Christmas menu. This sounds scrumptious!

Cannot wait to try it.

amysue said...

I have had tamale dressing from the Central Market in Austin several times. It's wonderful! Have not attempted to make it at home yet, still working on getting just basic tamales down.

Esmer said...

OMG!! I totally agree with your uncle. Dressing is one of my favorite comfort foods and I can't wait to try this recipe!

Anonymous said...

Cooking your dressing in a cast iron skillet makes the dressing better, don’t ask me why it just does ,

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Lauren at TwIn Style--It would be great for a potluck!

The Galley Gourmet--Tex-Mex Thanksgivings are the best!

Sherry--Yum indeed!

maisouiparis--You're very welcome. I like the idea of Thanksgiving in July. Though can you find masa harina and corn husks in Paris? If so, you can make your own tamales!

Margie Orr--Tamales in the freezer? Sounds like you're set!

Martha--Good luck finding the tamales. Have you ever tried making them?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Judy--Have a great time in Houston!

Amysue--I've never had the tamale dressing from HEB but I saw their recipe. Instead of chicken broth they use Ro-Tel to moisten the dressing, which also sounds good!

Esmer--Isn't it?

Anon--I'm convinced cooking just about anything in a cast-iron skillet makes it better!

karley @ decaf & dessert said...

What a wonderful idea!

Also, I have to tell you that I am currently working as an aupair in Southern France, and am so "Texas homesick" (born and raised in Dallas, y'all) that I begged my mom to send me a copy of your cookbook in a care package. She did. I made your enchiladas for the French family I live with. They adored them. Still missing that Velveeta, but still...it was a literal taste of home. :)

Susan........ said...

I just made a dressing using polenta, Italian hot sausage and roasted red peppers. I find that cornbread by itself can get mushy so I made a polenta cornbread. Turned out wonderful, but now I HAVE to try your version.

Thanks!

Abbe said...

My husband loves tamale stuffing especially the morning after topped with fried eggs and red chile. Your recipe is a bit different than mine though I may have to try a few new changes to it this year. Yummy!

purpleranger said...

If I can find any tamales in my area (I may have to settle for canned), I'll have to try this.

DessertForTwo said...

Oh Lisa, I've seen a million stuffing/dressing recipes and none have even tempted me away from my mom's cornbread stuffing...but this one! This one I gotta try!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Karley--What a treat for your French family! Perhaps your family can send you Velveeta in your next care package.

Susan--I love that polenta idea!

Abbe--Topped with eggs and red chile? That sounds fabulous!

PurpleRanger--Make your own!

DessertForTwo--If you love tamales, you can't miss!

Kristen said...

Homesick Texan, i have what may seem like a silly question to you, but where on earth do you find good cast iron pans? I live in VA and I can't seem to find them anywhere! The only brand I really see, online and otherwise, is Lodge Logic, and that didn't get very good reviews. Any suggestions? I've been wanting a cast iron pan for forever.

The Cozy Herbivore said...

This looks amazing! I recently learned how to make tamales, and now I'm totally addicted. My Texas girlfriend will absolutely LOVE the combination of tamales and cornbread-- I can't wait to make this for her! (She's totally smitten with your site, by the way-- she's a homesick Texan as well!)

Sarah said...

Yum! I wonder if this would also freeze well since there are just two of us.

JustKJ said...

Lisa, awesome stuff. This was well loved at the Thanksgiving table. I have a question though. I made it for a person who needed gluten free options. It seemed perfect as I make a southern style cornbread that uses no flour. As a result I think the liquids did not absorb as well as it would have with a cornbread that has flour in it--the bottom of the stuffing was slightly soupy.

Do you think adding a little thickener (corn starch or arrow root) to the stock or perhaps just less stock would help?

Kirk in Dallas, justkj@gmail.com

Rick K said...

The picture was great, so I made it for Thanksgiving. Logical? No! Scrumptious? YES! I always honor the recipe the first time I try it and this was easy. Pork Tamales and already made cornbread from Central Market in Houston made it easy. Out of the oven, it was beautiful. Into the mouth, it was delicious. Thanks! Horns Hooked the Aggies tonight real good!

april5k said...

Made it, nailed it, won Thanksgiving! Thanks for posting this recipe!

cryjack.com said...

I made this for Thanksgiving and just wanted to say thank you for the great recipe. I plan on making this again next year (if not before then).

Anonymous said...

dear lisa,

i myself am currently a homesick texan. i've spent the better part of 2 months in france now with 5 more to go and have been missing everything about the cuisine back home- namely the spice. coming from houston, i'm a born and bred spice junkie and have been missing the heat since leaving (i'm not complaining- a girl can get used to eating mounds upon mounds of chocolate and cheese. sometimes though, nothing quite does it like a jar of pickled jalapenos and the tang of barbecue sauce). i've adapted a couple of your recipes using the stuff i have available to me here (pretty small selection, but i have managed to find bird's eye chilis and sriracha, so i've been making good use of them). just wanted to say keep up the awesome writing and making the heartache of homesickness just a little less piquant. from one homesick texan to another.

sara

Anonymous said...

This looks terrific! I'd love to make it for my own homesick Texan (husband). Would you share your favorite NYC source for tamales?
-Suz

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Suz--I get mine from a neighborhood taco truck. Almost all taquerias and Mexican grocers offer them here, and Trader Joe's has them in the frozen section.

Joan said...

I made this. Doubled the recipe. Simply the best thing I've ever eaten. Nothing left on Black Friday.

We finished off the leftovers late on Thursday while working a jigsaw puzzle and watching a movie. We took canned biscuits from Whole Foods, cut a slit in each biscuit dough puck and stuffed them with various combinations of tamale cornbread dressing, turkey, potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce. Then, after some time in the oven, we topped each biscuit off with cream gravy.

I mean really, it will never get any better than that.

cfootsoup said...

Something similar is in a cookbook from Encino Press from the 1960s. Cant recall the title; probably out of print.

Jes said...

I made this tonight. It was delicious! I am hosting my first Christmas dinner this year, and I am SOO excited to serve it to my family!

th said...

Made this for Thanksgiving and it won the day. Best stuffing I've ever eaten. Paired great with the turkey. Absolutely delicious.

Anna said...

What's the Homesick Texan version of cranberry sauce ?

A fruit-laden salsa, maybe?

Anonymous said...

Made this yesterday and everyone just loved it!! So so good!!

Tamara said...

I made this Christmas day and have to say it was wonderful!! I love the spiciness, it was a great change from the normal dressing I usually make. Thanks for sharing!!!

Jenn & Cardy said...

I ordered a few dozen tamales at Christmas and threw some in the freezer. I was so excited when I found this recipe & I couldn't wait to try it out. My husband was skeptical & not very happy I was using all of the leftover tamales for this dish but in the end he was amazed at how awesome this was. I served it as the main course for dinner. I can't wait for more tamales to make it again. Thank you for your awesome recipes!

Anonymous said...

making this for thanskgiving!

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