Hot Tamale!

by Sarah on November 27, 2010 · 9 comments

Announcing: Marx Foods A Chile & A Spoon Blogger Recipe Challenge

If we select you for the challenge, we will send you six varieties of dried chilies of varying heat levels for you to use to develop a recipe that is normally eaten with a spoon: soup, stew, ice cream, custard, breakfast cereal … whatever. Get it? Incorporate a chile into an original recipe that is best eaten with a spoon. Voters will be asked to choose the most irresistible dish.

Here’s how to Enter: Email Justin Marx at Justin (at) marxfoods (dot) com with your name, address, blog url and the reason why you want in.

Dear Justin,

Please pick me to compete. Why? Easy. I randomly moved to Texas this summer, and the instead I did, it was as though chiles began coursing through my veins. As Bobby Flay is one of my “I used to watch The Food Network nonstop until I discovered Adam Richman and The Travel Channel” idols, I would love to make him proud by utilizing his favorite ingredient in a dish.

I also love to eat everything with a spoon. [Second only to chopsticks.] So, I’ve got that going for me, too.

Sincerely, Miss Smart


Clearly my witty e-mails earn me some wonderful things in life…including the opportunity to participate in the Marx Foods A Chile & A Spoon Recipe Challenge. But what to make?

And then, just like that, Alex Trebek showed me the light. [Or in this case, the dish.]
Clearly he is as excited about my recipe as I am.

While simultaneously watching Jeopardy and lifting weights at the gym (that’s right…I work out both my body AND my brain), this clue was given in the category entitled “(I actually can’t remember but it had something to do with) Food with Utensil* Names”: This southern corn casserole is best served straight from the oven and served with a spoon.”

*What a weird word, by the way.

As soon as I read that, the lightbulb went off in my head. What would I make for the “A Chile & A Spoon” Challenge? SPOONbread of course! The only thing to decide now was which chile to use. Although there were a number of intriguing chiles to choose from (and I plan to eventually use them all), as soon as I saw this Guajillo Chile, I knew I had to use it.This chile looked just like the ones I had used in Mexico last Christmas when I learned how to make tamales from scratch. Literally, we started with dried corn cobs, took off all the corn, rehydrated it, and then ground it with a hand crank (one step up from using a stone, so I was told).

I did not need an arm workout that day.

From the cornmeal, we made the base of the tamales, and I learned how to stuff and wrap both sweet and savory versions. The sweet ones were the cutest, because we tied them up like little presents.
But the savory ones…oh my goll, y’all. It was one of the best things I had ever eaten. (Probably in part because I had worked so hard to make them!)

The savory tamales were made with the corn mixture and a scoop of what was called Chile Colorado, explained to me to be the term used for any sort of meat-and-red-chile-salsa. We made it with pork, tomatoes, and rehydrated chiles. For something so simple, it had SO much flavor.

Anyways, when I saw that Guajillo Chile from Marx Foods, I knew I needed to combine the idea of spoonbread with my knowledge of tamales….and what did I come up with?

Hot Tamale!* Spoonbread

*Just like the Kashi company, I believe that putting random exclamation points in the title of my food makes it more appealing to mass audiences.Instead of pork, I was thinking Thanksgiving, and could focus on only one meat: turkey.

I had about two cups of shredded turkey, which I have photographed as though I actually used a fork to shred it in a polite and refined way. [Y’all know I did that all with my hands, though.] I put a large Guajillo Chile in a bowl and covered it with boiling (or at least really hot) water.
I let it sit for about 15 minutes to rehydrate and soften. To keep it down in the water, I constructed this lovely device called fork-pressing-on-chile-with-plate-weighed-down-by-turkey-holding-it-in-place.
When it was ready to rock and roll (and twist and shout most likely), I tore it open.
For a second, I considered not using all of the seeds, but it said this was a mild chile, and as I had told Justin Marx in my e-mail, ever since I moved to Texas, I need more heat, more of the time.*

*As opposed to all heat, all the time. Sometimes I like cold things.

Into the processor went the chile. In Mexico, they used a blender, so I’m sure you could use one, too.
I had a can of whole peeled tomatoes. (You can use fresh tomatoes, but I like to find shortcuts where I can.)
I plopped them into the food processor without their juice. [I then drank the juice. Mmmmm lycophene.]
Just for kicks, I threw in a quarter of a sweet onion and some cilantro. Also a little salt and pepper and extra chile powder. [I seriously could not believe I didn’t think it was hot enough….next time, perhaps I won’t wimp out and instead use a spicier chile?]
Whirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr went the food processor.
Then into a small saucepan I put the salsa and the turkey.
Cooked it through and heated it up. Not really sure why, but I believed in my mind that this would help the flavors seep into the turkey.
And then, it was time for the second star of the show: the spoonbread. Clearly, I needed some cornmeal.And, as spoonbread is sort of like a souffle, I needed some eggs.I also decided to go ahead and add creaminess and texture with a can of creamed corn.
First, I heated up 2 cups of milk on the stove. Once it was almost bubbling, I whisked in 1 cup of cornmeal. It thickened up almost immediately. I poured it into a mixing bowl, along with the creamed corn and three egg yolks.The egg whites were beaten with an electric mixer in a separate bowl until fluffy and peaked…but not necessarily “stiff.”
I don’t really know what any of the terminology I just used means, but they looked like the photo above, and stuck together like a thick foam, so that I literally was able to slide them out of the bowl and into the cornmeal mixture.
I used a spatula to fold them into the cornmeal.
It took a little patience actually, but eventually all was incorporated.
I added some chile powder to that, since I was thinking about Mexico, where elote is the favorite street food (basically creamed corn with lots of butter, limon, and chile powder)…and also eaten with a spoon.
I put half of the spoonbread into an 8 x 8 pan, and topped it with the Turkey Chile mixture.
I covered that up with the rest of the spoonbread batter.
I baked it for about 30-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
You’ll know it’s done because it will brown nicely on the top, and if you shake it, it won’t jiggle wildly.
You are looking for a souffle-like consistency though, so it won’t be hard or anything. Remember, this is spoonbread, so you want to serve and eat it with a spoon.
So delicious….and not too spicy. I served it at a potluck and it was satisfying for all tastebuds. 😉

Hot Tamale! Spoonbread
(Makes one 8″x 8″ casserole)

3/4 lb. turkey, baked or roasted [about 2 cups shredded turkey]
1 large dried guajillo chile
1 can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 medium sweet onion (about 1 cup chunks)
1 cup cornmeal
2 cups milk
1 15.5 oz. can cream-style corn
3 eggs, separated
chili powder, salt, and pepper

1. Cover chile with hot water in a small bowl. Let sit for 15-20 minutes to soften.
2. In a food processor, combine chile (with stem removed), peeled tomatoes, cilantro, and onion, along with a dash or two of salt, pepper, and chili powder. Process until smooth.
3. Stir together turkey and salsa in a small saucepan. Heat through.
4. In another small saucepan, bring milk to a low boil. Just as it starts to bubble, whisk in cornmeal.
5. Once the cornmeal has thickened, pour into a large mixing bowl and whisk in creamed corn and egg yolks.
6. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until thickened and foamy.
7. Fold in egg whites to cornmeal mixture.
8. Spoon half of cornmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8″ x 8″ pan. Cover with turkey-chile mixture.
9. Spoon remaining cornmeal mixture on top of the turkey-chile mixture.
10. Bake the tamale spoonbread in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, until the top is browned and doesn’t jiggle if you shake the pan.

Serve warm…with a spoon!

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Lindsay and James Cotter November 27, 2010 at 6:44 pm

oh girl, that looks good! SPicy goodness in cornbread!!

Lindsay and James Cotter November 27, 2010 at 6:44 pm

oh girl, that looks good! SPicy goodness in cornbread!!

Lindsay and James Cotter November 27, 2010 at 6:44 pm

oh girl, that looks good! SPicy goodness in cornbread!!

Lindsay and James Cotter November 27, 2010 at 6:44 pm

oh girl, that looks good! SPicy goodness in cornbread!!

Jillian @ Reshape Your Life November 28, 2010 at 5:28 pm

I love this post! haha Awesome job on the recipe. You had me cracking up the whole time. It was extra witty today! :) Good Luck!

rebeccammendations November 29, 2010 at 1:21 pm

So fun– what a fabulous contest– I hope you win! If you do, do you win free chiles for a year? I would love to take some off your hands. Also, did you know Smitten Kitchen wrote about spoonbread today too?

The Food Hunter November 29, 2010 at 5:04 pm

looks great…good luck

Catherine December 17, 2010 at 2:15 pm

I made this last night! The verdict was: YUM! (and then I had it for lunch today, and we'll have it for dinner tonight, and lunch tomorrow…)

Catherine December 17, 2010 at 3:11 pm

re: blog traffic: yay! I posted a link to this on a cooking board yesterday, saying I was going to make it for dinner.

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