My favorite thing to do in the kitchen is taking flavors from one type of ethnic cooking and presenting it like a dish from a different cuisine.
These Italian Tamales
are a great example of that. Normally a corn flour-based dough makes up the bulk of a tamale; this one is polenta. Normally a beefy taco meat filling is used in a tamale; this is a meaty Bolognese.
When they didn't have corn husks at the grocery store, I had to improvise. Instead, I used leafy hearty collard greens. Now instead of just tossing the wrapper, we can actually eat it!
These tamales are a unique treat that blends Mexican and Italian food seamlessly, and somehow manages to be familiar and new at the same time.
A whole bunch of carrot and onion.
When making Bolognese sauce, everything needs attention along the way. First the meat gets browned on its own, then comes out. Next the veggies get their time in the spotlight.
Even the tomato paste gets some love. Then everything goes back into the pot and cooks together for a while.
Polenta, Bolognese and cheese, all on a collard green.
As I mentioned, the best part about using a collard green instead of a corn husk is that the wrapper is edible. Serve these with a side of veggies and you have a meal with classic flavors done in a new and elegant way.
The cheese and meat really goes perfectly with the corn cake. This is one of the best meals I’ve had in a while! Dan Whalen now wants to make a tamale from every country. He has been blogging for over 4 years at The Food in My Beard; check Dan's Tablespoon profile often to try his recipes with creative international spins!