My mother was a lovely woman and she worked hard to make sure that we had something nutritious to eat every night. In addition to her tuna casserole, mac and cheese, spaghetti and goulash she would often serve us hungry wee-ones Tamale Pie. The recipe for this she found printed on the side of the Albers Corn meal box. Say it is not so? Well, just to prove my point here is the link to Albers’ website for Tamale Pie. After reading this recipe online I can tell you for a fact that it has been upgraded over the years. What I was served as a child, with the implicit imprimatur of an authentic Mexican dish was, well, not so much.
Now do not get me wrong. I love this dish and make it to this day, save a few changes. I roast, in a separate pan, cumin, chipotle and ancho chili peppers. Instead of beef I brown ground lamb, I find it brings a richer, deeper flavor. Roasted corn kernels round out the flavor profile of the dish when mixed together with tomatoes, black beans. I will then finish with dried sage, salt and a splash of vinegar. Occasionally I will add a tablespoon or two of maple syrup – just because. It then gets topped off with a batch of corn muffin mix, sorry Albers, and slid it the oven at 350. The cool thing is that I use the same terracotta pot from France that my mother used. It is unfinished on the outside, glazed on the inside with a good sized grab handle off to one side. It came with a lid, which I still have, but the knob on top broke off many decades ago. This wedding gift to my parents is one of my most prized possessions, reminding me of a style of cooking rarely found these days and the love my mother put into feeding us every night.
On the other hand, I recently stopped in to El Tesoro Mazatlan, on Benicia Road. Now this is Mexican food at its best. There was no tamale pie but I did order an Enchilada Pollo with red and green sauce. My dinner companion ordered the fish tacos and, why is this always the case, her dinner was better than mine? Now wait, the enchilada with refried beans were very tasty but her fish tacos were the bomb. Crispy, fresh with just the right amount of sauce on soft flour tortillas. Super yum. Another thing that makes this place authentic for me is the chip and salsa bar. Right? House made chip and salsas, what could be more Mexican? I am so happy when I find roasted red tomato salsa. The flavors are so deep and rich my mouth is watering just thinking about it now. The only thing I would wish for is a little more flavor in their Spanish rice.
Where ever your favorite Mexican place may be in town, be it truck or shop, I suggest that you give El Tesoro a try. I do not think that you will be disappointed.
Until next time,
Eat Well and Smile Often