Thursday, October 31, 2013

Doe's and the trouble with tamales

Posted By on Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 8:53 AM


I’ve often wondered if I’ve ever had a truly exceptional tamale. If I have, I certainly don’t remember such an experience. And it’s not for lack of trying—I’ve eaten a good number of tamales in my lifetime, especially when being referred to a particular place where “you gotta try the tamales.” More often than not, I leave unimpressed.

Usually, I find tamales to be a rather bland combination of corn with scant filling. I’d assume that great tamales would capture that delicate balance of corn to filling, with an ample amount of internally situated pork or beef to really grabs the eater’s attention. I often find the masa overwhelms the whole thing—sometimes I stare at its insides confused by the glaringly obvious lack of filling and flavor. Masa can often be overly dry, as well. Chalky, flavorless, and bland—it’s for these reasons I more often find myself sticking with burritos, tortas, and my beloved tacos when seeking out Mexican food.

But I have to believe great tamales exist, I’ve only yet to find them.

People have professed their love for Doe’s tamales. Having never been to Doe’s, and with a little encouragement from a few friends, I determined to make another attempt at tamales.

Doe’s tamales are not your conventional south-of-the-border variety—and many would separate these “Delta tamales” from their more traditional counterparts. The long, thin, cigar-like structures come wrapped in wax paper stained with bright orange grease. A half dozen makes for a fairly sizable meal. They utilize a plain white cornmeal, another departure from the finer masa often used in other tamale recipes. These are filled with ground chuck, diced red pepper, and dried onion. Rather than simply steaming them, these are simmered in a spicy broth made from tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, red pepper, and water. They come alongside a bowl of their hot chili, something else you don’t often see at your garden variety taqueria.

I’ll admit, the end result was pleasing. Choosing to boil them in broth kept them moist and tender. They were plenty spicy as well; there was no lack of chili powder in this dish. Overall, I’d call them an improvement over many tamales I’ve eaten in the past, but I still didn't find them to be terribly exciting and soon became bored after a few bites. The bowl of chili was no slouch, though—hot, beefy, and an excellent addition on top of the tamales.

I still don’t consider myself an avid tamale guy, but Doe’s does a respectable version of this classic Mexican dish. These Delta tamales have become a staple in Little Rock and the surrounding southern communities. It’s a recipe that’s been working for them since 1941, so I doubt they’ll be changing things up any time soon.

But if there is a “perfect” tamale out there—an ethereal, life-changing tamale—please share with me where these can be found, I’m more than willing to track them down.

Tags: , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Speaking of...

Comments (16)

Showing 1-16 of 16

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-16 of 16

Add a comment

More by Daniel Walker

  • The Kraft Mac & Cheese Food Hack

    Recently, we held another food hack competition, taking another childhood classic, Kraft Mac & Cheese, and tried to turn it on its head, creating something entirely new and unique. Again, the results were pretty awesome. The rules were simple: Use a whole box of mac and cheese, both noodles and cheese powder, and turn it into any sinister monstrosity imaginable. We had a vote via the Eat Arkansas Facebook page to crown a winner. Here's what was submitted:
    • Jul 30, 2014
  • Food Feedback Friday: The "We need your vote!" edition know the drill with Food Feedback. Tell us what you're eating this week and what you thought about it. I love to hear all the suggestions and I'm frequently looking back through your recommendations to determine my next meal. So share away! Happy weekend, y'all.
    • Jul 25, 2014
  • Looking in on the new Le Pops, now in the Heights

    Le Pops is a wonderful addition to the Heights neighborhood. Laurie Harrison is incredibly dedicated to her product, she still works here 7 days a week and is constantly experimenting in the kitchen to develop new flavors. Check them out the next time you need a cool down.
    • Jul 24, 2014
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • The Lemon Cakery is pure bliss

    In the eternal and often epic battle between "cake" and "pie," I normally come down on the pie side of things. The Lemon Cakery puts that rule to the test—deliciously.
    • Oct 1, 2015
  • A sneak preview of Fourquarter Bar in Argenta

    A look at Fourquarter Bar in Argenta, brought to you by the folks behind Midtown Billiards. Beer, barbecue and killer cocktails abound!
    • Feb 23, 2016
  • Coming Monday: Little Rock Black Restaurant Week

    MoTown Monday is Ceci's Chicken and Waffles. Tasty Tuesday is Sims BBQ and Brewster's Soul Food Cafe. Wing Wednesday is Chicken King and Chicken Wangs. Soul Food Thursday is Lindsey's BBQ and Hospitality House and Food Truck Festival Friday is @station801. It's the first Black Restaurant Week.
    • Mar 8, 2017

Most Shared

  • Workers stiffed

    How is it going with the great experiment to make the Republican Party the champion of the sons and daughters of toil instead of the oligarchs of wealth and business?
  • Former state board of education chair Sam Ledbetter weighs in on Little Rock millage vote

    Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff.
  • O'Reilly's fall

    Whom the gods would destroy, they first make TV stars.

Visit Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Arkansas angler and fishing expert Billy Murray shares his extensive knowledge of the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation