In Southern California, homemade tamales are a coveted holiday treat; rajas, pork, chicken, sweet tamales filled with pineapple and golden raisins, my mouth waters just typing! At Christmas, we’re the lucky recipients of tamales gifted to us by Rica, who may just be the best Mexican cook in town.
If you’re the jealous type, go ahead and open that door for the green-eyed monster. Rica’s tamales are the best I’ve ever eaten. One day I’ll get my act together and share her method on the blog, but there’s an element of magic that Rica adds that can’t be duplicated (sorry to rub it in).
However, even if you don’t have access to fresh made tamales — my friend Susan has been buying them at Trader Joe’s — I’ve got a little trick for you that heighten the taste of those little bundles. This method of reheating imparts the most delicious smoky flavor and gives a delightfully crispy texture.
Heat a cast iron skillet on medium-high and place that package of husk wrapped goodness in the dry pan. Cook tamales until the bottom side is charred. Then, flip to the other side and do the same thing – for me, it’s about eight minutes a side.
As you remove the charred husk you’re left with one (or two) tasty tamale/s. The masa that sneaks in between the cornhusk folds is my favorite; it gets this wonderful crunchy texture.
We like to eat tamales with a dipping sauce made of sour cream and a few squirts of sriracha. For a crowd, you can slice them into pieces for a great appetizer serving the dipping sauce on the side.
Note: Here we are talking about reheating the tamales. However, even if your tamales have been just steamed, you can still finish with this charring method to get that great crunch.