Something To Be Said For Tamales

Lately Marty and I have been enjoying the bourgeoning slow food movement in the Central Florida area. In particular there are two farmers markets that have made a commitment to supporting and promoting only locally produced food and goods. The leader on this front is the Monday night Audubon Park Market  as it is a completely local market. And more recently the College Park Market, which is now being held on Thursday nights, is trying to follow the same model.

We have made some wonderful connections at these markets, actually getting to know the farmers and growers of the food we buy. I love the fact that the soft boiled egg I ate this morning was gathered by Dale at Lake Meadow Naturals  from his very pampered and happy chickens; that Cinthia at Wild Ocean Seafood is my own personal connection to the hard working local fishermen and that Trish Strawn from Deep Creek Ranch can tell me exactly which animal my grass fed beef has come from, and every detail of its handling. I am also grateful to have met Tony Adams of Big Wheel Provisions who not only hooks me up with some truly amazing local free range pork but is a source for an endless array of yummy prepared treats - from charcuterie to condiments - pickles to pate. Each week it's a new adventure as he opens his coolers filled with handmade, locally sourced, thoughtfully prepared culinary fare.

Last week was no exception. When he handed us a package of his smoked Deep Creek Ranch beef tongue and told us to just take it and try it, how could we refuse? Perhaps we found ourselves tongue tied, because the next thing you know I was home in my kitchen with a package of food that looked like it was giving me attitude and not a clue what to do with it. My thoughts went in two directions: Vietnamese and Mexican. Should I maybe try it in something like a Banh Mi sandwich or a bowl of Pho? Or should I go the Latin route? After much internet surfing and recipe browsing I decided to use it to make tamales. Although I didn't come across a specific tamale recipe, it became apparent that it would be well suited to such a preparation. Let me just say up front that any trepidation we may have felt disappeared the minute we tasted the tamales.

They were wonderful. The tongue meat was tender and its smokiness layered with the smokiness of the chipotles, gave the filling a really nice depth of flavor.  It just goes to prove that sometimes it is best to think before you speak, hold your tongue as it were. Because if we had rejected Tony's offer we would have missed out on a great meal. So thanks Tony - see you at the Market!

Pulling together the ingredients for my tamales

I had to get past the fact that it was sticking it's tongue out at me - literally

Sautéing the meat with some onions, garlic and green peppers

Cooked down with tomatoes, corn, celery, chipotle, honey, spices and herbs

Mixing the shortening into the tamale dough

Stuffing the tamales

Into the steamer for an hour

Fire roasted tomatillos and peppers for the salsa verde

Que Bueno!


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