Cornsicles (or Tamales-on-a-Stick)

Who knew you could make tamales cute?  Who knew you could make them with shrimp?  This recipe came from a cookbook of Native American recipes from the American southwest and we had them as appetizers for our Dia de los Muertos dinner.  Sure, they would have been cuter with actual popsicle sticks, but takeout chopsticks broken in half worked okay.  And they were a tasty belly-filler with prickly pear margaritas, before a mole poblano main course.  Give them a try!

Cornsicles (or, Tamales-on-a-Stick)

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1/3 cup lard or Crisco
1 cup Masa flour
4 ears fresh corn
12 fresh corn husk leaves or dried, soaked corn husks
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
12 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and diced

Beat lard or Crisco with a fork or wire whip until somewhat “fluffy.” Add the Masa to the lard and continue to beat for 2 minutes. Set aside.

Use a sharp knife to cut the corn kernels from the cobs, and scrape the cobs with the knife blade to get as much milk as possible out.  This will help the tamale to bind.

Grind the corn kernels in a food processor until all kernels are ground.  Add salt, pepper and oregano and pulse to combine. Beat in the lard and Masa mixture and pulse into the corn mixture to combine. Add more Masa if needed to create a “paste” mixture. (The pic below is a bit runnier than it should be and required a bit more Masa. It should have more of the consistency of Pork Tamales and Banana Leaves.) Place this mixture into a separate bowl.

Pulse the shrimp in the food processor until finely chopped.  Stir the shrimp into the corn mixture.

Place a soaked (or fresh) corn husk flat on a prep surface.  Drop a tablespoon or two of the batter onto the middle of the husk and fold the left, then right, then bottom of the husk up over the filling to create an “open-ended tamale.”  Insert a popsicle stick into the open end, pushing it well down into the filling (to the bottom husk is great).  We didn’t have, nor could we find readily around the marina any popsicle sticks so we used an accumulated supply of take-out Chinese chopsticks, broken in half.  Ultimately they were too short and thin for optimal Cornsicle cuteness, but on boats, you make do.

Tear a small strip of husk and use it to tie the packet closed around the middle.  Prop the packets open-end up in a loaf or other well-sized pan that will hold them up and keep them relatively close together so that they steam.  Place in a preheated 325 oven for about 30 minutes (if you’ve made them this size … i.e. a dozen for the measurements of filling provided above … if you’ve made them larger, increase the time until they are firm).

To eat, unwrap the husk and eat the cooked filling off the stick.  These are great with a green chile (mild) salsa, but we loved the flavor enough to eat them plain.  Enjoy!

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