Tonight's dinner was something of an homage to my childhood. Up until I was 12, we lived in a very ethnically varied neighborhood that included a large population of Mexican and Tex-Mex folks who brought their own cultural backgrounds to our town. Amongst these traditions was the idea of home made Christmas tamales. One of the things I remember growing up where the tamale girls with their Red Hots. Red Hots were small spicy pork or chicken tamales, sold from the insulated carts, that the women walked around town with, a little bell ringing as the cart went along. I wanted to make tamales that were reminiscent of these little snacks. I am thinking these would be a good Christmas Day appetizer/snack dish.
First, I smoked a chicken on the kettle. A skin-on, bone-in chicken breast was rubbed with a 1/3 each mix of Plowboy's Yardbird, Bob's Poultry Rub and kosher salt. The chicken was then tightly wrapped and allowed to sit for 3 hours.
The kettle was running at 375F, lump and oak, light blue smoke, the chicken was at room temperature and placed in the kettle for an hour. Ta-daaa...
The meat was shredded, cooled, then mixed with chopped onion, snipped cilantro and a salsa verde made with tomatillos and hatch chiles. A dough made of corn flour, corn meal, olive oil, kosher salt and some of the rub mix was prepared.
The dough should be spreadable, I hope the photo shows the texture I look for in a tamale dough. The dough must taste good, this is key to a good tamale. I rinsed then soaked the corn husks to get them softened for rolling. I then spread a large spoonful of the dough and spread it in the corn husk. Now, since the idea was to make Red Hots, I made sure it was small enough that a single husk would cover the tamale for cooking. These were put in a steamer for 2 hours until the dough was set. Here they are with some chips for scale, and snacking as well.
I was happy with the thickness of the tamale dough and the flavor of the chicken. I think it could have used a little more heat. It was paired with Full Sail Wassail winter ale. I have to say once the hand and wrist heal, I will try these again shooting for a smaller appetizer size.