Archive for the ‘tamales’ Tag

Fun With Tamales   Leave a comment


Restaurant dining offers various experiences beyond not wanting, or not knowing what, to cook at a given time. We want more than sustenance, and I typically desire something better than what I can prepare myself. Then, I want to know how it’s done so I can fix the dish myself sometime. Cooking classes offer a variation of these themes. Each time I participate in such an activity I learn a lot and make some new friends. This is just what happened with Barbara Santos-McAllister’s recent Tamales Class offered through her local business, Cocina Corazon.


Tamales are nothing new to me, but it’s been years since I last made them. I have a treasured hand-written recipe from my grandmother with her instructions, but they’re vague and come from having prepared them a lot. Some specifics are missing.


With seven other women, in a kitchen belonging to Barbara’s friend, we met to make tamales with four different fillings: pork with green chile, chicken mole, poblano with cheese, and dulce (sweet). Barbara did a massive amount of work before the class. Not only did she have all of the necessary ingredients at hand and prepare all of the fillings in advance, she also had food for us to nosh throughout the class. Her salsa almost overshadowed everything. Almost.

We learned to make masa, spread it and the filling on the corn husks. Then waited while they steamed, which was the only downside. Even though it was fun, it was a very long evening!

Cocina Corazon
Four-and-a-half Plates

Sad and Happy   1 comment


El Cholo tamale

Although the reason for gathering was sad, the lunch hosted by my cousins at El Cholo was, in fact, a celebration of my aunt’s life. I can’t help but think she was smiling, humming under her breath and enjoying her signature  drink: a cold bottle of Coors while many of us enjoyed margaritas.

The menu features traditional Mexican fare ranging from tacos to carnitas and several creative variations. I was intrigued by the Green Corn Tamales. This is considered the restaurant’s signature dish. Until recently, it was only available from May to October. The tamales are now available year round. Fresh green corn is cut off the cob, which is mixed with the corn masa. The result is a slightly sweet corn meal that coats the corn husks and contrasts with the sharp cheddar cheese and green chile that’s wrapped inside, tied together and steamed. The standard rice and beans round out the plate.


An interesting thing about the El Cholo menu is that many dishes are identified by the year they were added to the restaurant’s repertoire. Those tamales appeared when the first El Cholo opened in 1923. The Sonora Style Enchilada is also a 1923 vintage recipe. This features layered chicken enchiladas topped with a puffy fried egg drizzled with sour cream. It’s not the most attractive plating, but given its longevity on the menu, it must have more personality than looks.

And though it was late in the meal, we all raised our glasses to my aunt.

El Cholo

Four Plates

8200 E. Santa Ana Canyon Rd.

Anaheim Hills, Calif.

Tamales Without the Blues   Leave a comment


Up until a few years ago, anyone who drove through the if-you-blink-then-you-miss-it town of Hartsel in Colorado’s South Park was familiar with the neon-blue storefront housing Dorothy’s Tamales. Decades ago, Dororthy (there’s an actual Dorothy) started selling tamales in her home a few miles east of town and then moved to what can best be described as a wide trailer – painted that distinctive blue. It was a great place to stop for good Mexican food and pick up tamales to take home after a day spent in the mountains.


Without fanfare, Dorothy moved from Hartsel to Fairplay, well, to the southside of Fairplay along U.S. Highway 24. Gone was the color, gone was part of the smaller town’s character and, most importantly, gone was the ease of stopping.

Finally, we visited the new location. The restaurant faces the highway but it’s on a frontage road, so access is somewhat complicated. It’s a much larger facility but the menu appears pretty much the same. Oh, did I mention the restaurant is also a bowling alley?


Even with a new address, the tamales are worth the extra effort to reach. Filled with chicken, pork, vegetables (I’ve never tried these), cheese or buffalo, the tamales can be smothered in red or green chili. I opted for the pork with red. The shredded meat, masa and chile are well-balanced so no single element overshadows the other.

It’s nice that frozen tamales are still available to bring home for later; so we did.

Dorothy’s Tamales
Four Plates
12771 US Hwy 24,
Fairplay, Colo.

Tamales by the Dozen   2 comments

Having a tamale person is like having a good mechanic – something everyone needs, but
doesn’t always find. In the case of Olga & Sons Tamales, they found me. This is a mom and
pop –oops, hijos — operation; Olga makes tamales in her kitchen and her sons sell them
in offices and at farmer’s markets around Colorado Springs.

Olga’s son Omar has the route that includes the light industrial area where I go for my
Spanish class once a week. Usually, the available choices are pollo or queso. The shredded
chicken tamales have an appealing but unusual essence thanks to a green sauce made with basil.
When combined with the masa (dough made of ground corn meal and lard, yep lard) spread
inside the corn husk wrapper, the result is a subtle fiesta of flavors. The cheese variety
is filled with mozzarella wrapped around a thin sliver of jalapeno. It’s a small piece, so
more zip would be welcome.

Occasionally, the selection includes carne. Recently, there were two meats: shredded beef
and ground beef with jalapeno. I opted for the former. The meat was stewed in a red chile
sauce making it tender and savory. The masa was seasoned with a bit of the sauce for a
thoroughly flavorful tamale. The kicker came in a baggie of runny, but potent, eye-watering
salsa to pour on top.

Some tamale makers have a tendency to bulk up on the masa and skimp on the filling, but
Omar’s mom has just the right balance.

Tamales are $10 a dozen.
Three-and-a-half Plates

(Let me know if you want the phone number for Olga & Sons so you can place an order.)