If there’s one thing I absolutely love, it has to be a Tamale! Delicious steamed masa, filled with beef, chicken, fruits, you name it, wrapped and served in a corn husk (or banana leaf in some parts of Central America).
The tamale may seem like a simple fare, but the one ingredient that matters most in a tamale is love. In many countries such as the US and Mexico, Tamales are handmade and shared among family and friends during celebrations such as Christmas, the Day of the Dead, Las Posadas, La Candelaria Day, and Mexican Independence Day.
With such pain staking labor and love that goes into the tamale, could it easily be factory replicated and canned for easy consumption? While primarily known for their assortment of canned chili, Hormel believes so, and has for some time packaged a tamale product that has sold on shelves in American stores.
Inspecting the can, Hormel offers 2 methods for heating the tamales. Since stovetop is first on the list, I’m going to choose that method for this review. Hormel also offers a recipe for CasserÓLE on the can. This cleverly placed recipe not only servers as a way to spice up your Hormel Tamales, but also to sell you Hormel’s beans.
Inside the can were 6 individually wrapped cigar shaped tamales. Each tamale was wrapped in wax paper instead of corn husk or banana leaf. My assumption with this is that the tamales were also in a chili sauce that may have disintegrated the corn husk, eliminating the preferred wrapper from the steaming process when these cook.
From here, I put all the tamales in a pan, and per the instructions, brought to a simmer for 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally. The tamales cooking didn’t offer much in terms of pleasant or unpleasant smells. There was a light chili smell, but nothing to get excited over.
Once done cooking, I transferred to a plate, removing the tamales from their wax paper wrappers, and drizzling what sauce I could scrape out of the pan onto the tamales. The masa in the tamales did not hold well together, and was only able to successfully transfer 4 out of the 6 without completely destroying them.
Flavor wise, sadly, there’s not much to say. Maybe because Hormel was targeting the white suburban American market, they dulled down any flavor the tamales may have had. The masa didn’t have the sweet corn flavor, the beef inside was boringly unseasoned, and the sauce had no kick. So boring.
But maybe we could find something inside this factory made mess that could replace the most important part of a tamale… Love…
Alas, this tin can needs a journey to a wizard before we’d find love in these tamales.
The Hormel Tamales weren’t horrible… but they weren’t great. In fact, they weren’t much of anything, except maybe disappointing. I could see why Hormel would want to push it’s chili along with the tamales. It might actually rescue the tamales by hiding their severe blandness in beans and meat.