I’ve made plenty of tamales over the years and I really like the style from my wife’s native country of El Salvador. This however is not quite that type of tamale. I’ve played around recently with masa to see what other applications I can use with it. I’ve used the masa in a pate a choux dough and baked them for masa puffs, I’ve made dumplings with masa and fried them “chips and salsa”, this recipe I wanted to make a warm polenta or a deconstructed tamale ( or really just masa polenta, or grits). I can say that it was a big hit and it will be for anyone who likes tamales. This taste just like a tamale without having to cook them twice. Typically in a Salvadorian tamale you cook the masa with water or stock and a lot of oil. You cook it until it gets thick and taken on that typical masa flavor. Then while it is warm you spoon it onto the corn or banana leaf and whatever stuffing you want. Then wrap it and steam the tamales for another 30-45 minutes or so and then they are done. This is basically all the same flavor (minus all the oil) with a lot less work involved. Here is the recipe I hope you enjoy it!


2 cups of water or stock
2 cups of milk
1-1/2 cups of masa
salt to taste

Tomato habanero sauce
4 heirloom tomatoes charred on grill
1 habanero
1/3 cup cream
3 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp of micro cilantro leaves
Salt to taste
manchego cheese grated

For the charred tomato butter,

Take tomatoes and cut in half. Drizzle with olive oil and salt. Place on the hot part of the grill and grill for 3-4 minutes until charred a bit. Place the grilled tomatoes in a small pot with habanero and add cream. Cook for 5 minutes on low heat, then add to vita mix and puree until smooth. Slowly add the butter to the blender until all is incorporated. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

For the tamale (polenta)

In a medium pot add water and milk and a tsp of salt. Bring to a boil and then while stirring vigorously add masa flour and continue to stirring until all is incorporated and smooth. Cook for 25 minutes until the flour has been completely cooked. Season again with salt (feel free to add pepperjack or a manchego type of cheese here if you like). If not your are ready to eat!

To finish,

Take a few spoonfuls of the warm tamale and place in the middle of the plate. Then add the charred tomato sauce of the top. Finish with freshly grated manchego. Top with micro cilantro. Serve and enjoy!

masa (tamale) Polenta.JPG