I love to grill in summer, despite the fact that I live in a state that has many days of over 100 degrees that feel even hotter with Louisiana’s humidity. On most grilling days, I am immune to the heat when standing over a grill, but when it is just too hot outside even for me, my smoker saves the day. Using the smoker gives me many opportunities for leftovers. There is so much time and attention involved in smoking food that I always plan ahead to make plenty. There are so many ways I enjoy leftover pulled pork or smoked brisket–here is one of my favorites. No pork or brisket? Pull meat off ribs and chicken or grind leftover hot dogs and sausage in food processor.
This recipe came out of one of my leftovers; a sweet potato filled with BBQ meat and black beans combined with my love for hot tamales. I grew up in New Orleans where you could buy the best hot tamales on a street corner! I remember how tantalizing it was riding home with my dad as the smell of hot tamales wafted from the back seat floor board where the tightly bundled newspaper roll was beginning to drip lusciousness (that’s why the tamales always rode on the floor!). No telling just how many dozens of hot tamales we polished off over the years! The corner carts selling the original tamales are gone from the streets of New Orleans. New Orleans hot tamales are different than regular hot tamales in that cornmeal is used instead of Masa Harina (dough flour) and are always wrapped in paper, which I think is not only easier, but more convenient. I always have cornmeal and parchment paper handy.
BBQ Pork Cornmeal Tamales: This recipe is so easy I’m sure it will become a standby for so many leftovers! Just plan a few hours of cook time. Cut parchment paper into 6-7 inch squares. Make 20 squares. (Just in case an extra one or two are needed) Place them under something heavy to flatten them out. I use my butcher block.
Dice 1 small onion and 1 sweet potato. Add to skillet with 1/2 tsp olive oil. Season to your liking depending on the seasoning already in your leftover meat. I add 1/2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp chili powder, and 1 tsp cayenne pepper (hubby likes it a little spicy). Saute over medium for five minutes then cover. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat. Put mixture into a bowl to let cool. When cool, add 1 cup of leftover pulled pork (or any BBQ meat) 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (could omit and add 1 can corn) and 1/4 cup cornmeal. Mix well.
Place a steamer basket into a pot. Place next to your work station. Lay out a parchment paper onto the work station. Add 1 tsp of cornmeal on end of paper closest to you. Put 2 TBSP of mixture on top of cornmeal. (I use my hands to form a log before putting down, but you could always shape it as you roll the tamale if you don’t like to get your hands messy!) Sprinkle 1 tsp more cornmeal on top of pork mixture. Fold up one side and roll up the tamale gently squeezing and forming tamale as you roll.
Make sure to get a tight roll. When done place seam side down into a steamer basket. Continue rolling one by one until all the mixture is used. This makes approximately 1 1/2 dozen tamales. It is O.K. to stack the tamales. Pour water over the tamales into the pot. You want to have the papers wet. (Some people wet the papers before rolling, I find that to be too messy!) Fill with water just up to the steamer basket. Cover the pot. Bring water to a boil then turn heat down to low and simmer 2 hours. Be careful with the water level, scorched pots are no fun to wash! I always add some more water after an hour. Turn off heat and let sit 1/2 hour longer. Open the lid carefully, remove tamales. Unroll tamales. Drizzle with BBQ sauce. Enjoy. We like ours with corn and crackers, of course!
Put your TO COOK IS TO CREATE thinking cap on: What other meats could you use? Chopped chicken, (works well with leftover Rotisserie chicken, too!) brisket, pork tenderloin? What other kind of mixture from leftovers could you use? Taco filling? fajita? dirty rice? meatloaf and veggies? What other kind of vegetables? Corn, of course, how about kale, spinach, or squash? How about an all vegetable tamales? What about toppings? Chili and cheese, tomato sauce? Don’t limit the flavors. Think Indian tamales or Italian tamales, just change seasonings, fillings, and toppings! You can cook the tamales in a sauce. too.
FOOD FUN: If you didn’t believe me about Louisiana hot tamales, head to North Louisiana and check out the Zwolle Tamale Fiesta, the second full weekend every October. They are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, October 8-10. Perfect your tamale rolling skills and enter the tamale making contest or perfect your tamale eating skills and enter the tamale eating contest. Either way you can get your fill with tamales filled with just about anything, even a dessert tamale! Who doesn’t love a good hot tamale?