El Cholo – Los Angeles – Green Corn Tamales with Mole Poblano


It’s been a long time since I’ve been to El Cholo, which has been a fixture in Los Angeles since 1923. I recently posted an article in which El Cholo was cited as being the first LA restaurant to serve a burrito – that’s the kind of history they bring to the table. They have branches around town, but the location I always think of is the original on Western Avenue south of Olympic.

El Cholo was a participant in the wonderful fund-raising event for AltaMed, held in the courtyard of Union Station, so I was able to reacquaint myself. Each of the restaurants that came to the event selected a featured item, and El Cholo chose to serve Green Corn Tamales with a delicious Mole Poblano. The tamales were made with a rich, soft masa, and were sweetened and textured with whole kernels of corn, and a secret (to me) ingredient that gave them a creamy, almost cheesy finish. The mole poblano, with its sweet/smoky/spicy flavor was the perfect accompaniment.

I’m sure I’ll be going to El Cholo in the near future to see what else is on the menu.

Here’s the website: http://www.elcholo.com/


Corn and Green Chile Tamales – A Recipe


Tamales have been around for some 10,000 years. The Mayas and Aztecs ate tamales, as did the civilizations that came before them. Here’s a recipe that’s easy to follow, and certain to be delicious:

Flavorful tamales stuffed with sweet corn, cheese and tangy green chile sauce.
Yield: 30-40 tamales


16 oz corn kernels
3 oz. can diced green chiles
4 oz cream cheese (1/2 a standard package)
1/2 cup sour cream or crema
16 oz queso fresco or jack cheese (shredded or crumbled)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
40 Corn Husks
Tamale Dough (Recipe Below)

Prepare the filling
Add the corn and the diced chiles to a large bowl and add in the cream cheese, queso fresco, cumin, chile powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Use a large spoon to smash the cream cheese into the mixture to begin mixing it. I like to just use my hands to squish it all together. Once the filling is made, set it aside. (Note: You can make the filling the day before and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.)
Preparing the Corn Husks
Go through the corn husks removing any debris. Separate the larger usable pieces from the smaller bits and pieces. Save the smaller pieces for later. Go through the corn husks removing any debris. Separate the larger usable pieces from the smaller bits and pieces. Save the smaller pieces for later. Place the husks into a large bowl. Cover husks with warm water. Set a heavy item (like a heavy bowl or mug) on top of the husks to keep them submerged. Remove the husks from the water and pat dry. Place into a covered dish or a large plastic bag to prevent from drying out. Use only the larger and medium sized husks for the tamales. The smaller ones can be used later for ties or patches. When looking at the husk, notice the shape. They have a narrow end, a broad end, and two long sides.

Masa Harina Tamale Dough
6 cups masa harina
5 cups warm water or low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups lard
3 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoon cumin
3 tablespoon chile powder
2 teaspoons salt

In a mixing bowl combine masa and warm water or broth until combined. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes or so to let the masa soften. Then mix it on low speed until a dough forms. After the Masa Harina is prepared, gradually add in the salt, cumin and onion powder by sprinkling them over the dough as you mix it. In a separate bowl, whip lard or shortening about three minutes or until fluffy. Add the lard to the dough a little at a time while mixing until well combined. The mixture should be about the consistency of peanut butter. If not, add more masa harina, water or broth as necessary.
Assembling the Tamales
Lay a husk on a flat surface. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of dough onto the husk, depending on the size of the husk. Use the back of a metal spoon to spread the dough onto the husk. When spreading the dough, leave a space of about 4 inches from the narrow end of the husk and about 2 inches from the other end. Spread the dough to the edge of one of the long sides and 2 inches away from the other long side. Try to keep the dough approximately 1/4 inch thick. Spread a couple of spoonfuls of filling down the center of the dough, leaving at least one inch of dough around the sides. Locate the long side with a 2 inch space with no masa. Fold that over, slightly overlapping the other side so the edges of the dough meet. Wrap the extra husk around the back. Then fold the broad end over the top and then the longer narrow end over the broad end. Create strips of husk by cutting or tearing 1/4 inch lengths off of some of the smaller or unusable husks. Use these to tie across the middle of the tamale to hold the flaps down. Set tamales upright in a steamer. You can buy large steamers made just for this purpose. You may have something else you can use to create the same effect. The key is to have a small amount of boiling water on the bottom of the pot and a colander or mesh of some sort to keep the tamales away from the water. Steam for about 90 minutes and let them cool before serving.

Making Tamales is easy once you get the hang of it. It may take you a little longer to make the first few, but after you learn the ropes, you’ll have a whole batch ready in no time.

Here’s the website: http://mexicanfood.about.com/od/tamales101/r/Corn-And-Green-Chile-Tamales.htm