All about the filling, baby

There are endless ingredients and fillings for tamales; they truly serve as a blank canvas for chefs and home cooks alike. Some common ingredients you’ll find in tamales are shredded chicken, pork, cheese, and beans, but there are also sweet versions of tamales served as a dessert. The ancient Aztecs, seemingly taking a page out of some prehistoric hipster cookbook, used flamingo, salamander, and frog to fill their tamales. You now have creative minds like Claudia Sandoval making delicious tamale recipes with corn fungus (huitlacoche) as an ingredient. There are no rules, thankfully.


Whatever your flavor is, chances are there is a tamale out there for you. If you’re looking for vegan tamales, come try my sister’s batch at our family Christmas (just make sure you bring some beer to share). If it’s 2 a.m., you’ve had too many cold Hamms’, and you find yourself in Chicago, look for Claudio the tamale guy efficiently slinging his goods at bars; he cooks his tamales daily and they’re always warm, ready to eat. The point is to get out there and get to know tamales the easiest way possible—by eating them.