Friday, September 24, 2010

The Cranberry Tamale Experiment

The other day I was reading a review somewhere of some restaurant here in town that served tamales including a cranberry version (I was sick with a head cold & can't remember anymore details than that). Even though the reviewer wasn't blown away with the cranberry tamales, I was intrigued by the idea. When I ran the idea past Matt he agreed it sounded good but, when I told him I planned to use fresh cranberries in the filling he disagreed & said it should be dried. So, I decided to make a little of the filling each way.
Cranberry Tamales Fillings
I made each filling exactly the same except on included dried cranberries & the other fresh. The fresh version took on a nice pink color thanks to the cranberry juice.

Cranberry Tamale Filling

2 jalapeno, seeded & chopped
1 1/2 c grated quesadilla cheese
1 c chopped cranberries, fresh or dried
2 T heavy cream

Mix together.

Makes enough for 12 tamales (visit our original tamale post for directions on making tamales)

I made 6 tamales using each of the fillings & then we tasted...
Cranberry Tamales
The dried cranberry filling was far & away the taste winner of the two fillings. It had a much more intense flavor of cranberries & a nice sweetness. Also the tamales made with it seem to hold together better (perhaps too much juice escaped from the fresh ones). But all & all neither filling was exactly as I had hoped. The weren't bad by any means, just not all that exciting either.

I think this is still an idea worth playing with & maybe with some tweaking it'll be much better. Next time I'll add some shredded chicken or turkey to the filling. Also it needed more spice to play against the sweetness of the cranberries, the jalapenos were so mild they were almost flavorless, maybe that was just these jalapeno. Finally, I would use monterey jack cheese instead of the quesadilla cheese. The quesadilla cheese got a little hard & orange in some places like it had been over cooked, when I've used monterey jack in the past it just melted nicely.

I'm imagining trying a version of these with Thanksgiving leftovers...cranberry & sweet potato filling or cranberry sauce & turkey filling. Anyone else have some ideas?

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10 comments:

Deborah said...

The idea of these is very intriguing. I hope you find a recipe that blows you away!

Elle said...

You read my mind! I was just thinking that Thanksgiving leftovers would make a great tamale. Oh, sooo hungry!

Love your experiment here. Interesting, the difference in the two fillings. You're right--the juice in the fresh berries must have been too much. I didn't even think of that.

Trish said...

I don't understand the grated quesadilla part?

Stephanie said...

Try spicing up the masa paste itself with some dried ground peppers. Sweet bells could work, but poblanos would probably be better.

Lori said...

How about a cheese like blue or some really sdharp cheddar to foil the sweetness of the cranberries. I also think it is an idea worth playing around with. Or like you said some after Thanksgiving ones with turky and potato with cranberry salsa served along side or compote or something.

I liked how you did the side by side Kat- an interesting post.

kat said...

Trish that should be quesadilla cheese I'll fix it when I get back to a computer.

Natasha @ Saved by the Egg Timer said...

I love cranberry season, do you think drying them like you made "Sun Dried Tomoato" would work, just shorter time since smaller? I may have to experiment with that! WI has there Cranberry Festival soon....I hope I didn't miss it! I have never been to it but had it on my Fall To Do List this year :)

Maria said...

Love this idea! Cranberries and tamales-Mmmm!

Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen said...

This is the perfect fall food experiment! :)

Lori said...

Oh, this is a great idea! And I also love the idea of sweet potato for Thanksgiving. I think about making tamales every time I walk past the ethnic food aisle at our supermarket. I need to take the plunge and try them!

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