Southern Foodways' Mississippi Delta Hot Tamales

Caroline Russock
  •   For the meat filling:
  • to 8 pounds boneless meat (pork shoulder, chuck roast, or chicken)
  •   ¾ cup vegetable oil
  •   ¼ cup chili powder
  • 2 Tablespoons  paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons  salt
  • 2 Teaspoons  black pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon  ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon  onion powder
  • 1 Tablespoon  garlic powder
  • 1 Teaspoon  ground cumin
  •   For the corn husks:
  • to 2 packages dried corn husks
  •   For the masa dough:
  • 8 Cups  maseca (masa mix) or yellow cornmeal
  • 4 Teaspoons  baking powder
  • 2 Teaspoons  salt
  •   1â…” cups lard or vegetable shortening
  • to 8 cups warm meat broth (from cooking the meat)
Among the more curious dishes in The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook are these Mississippi Delta Hot Tamales. Tamales are traditionally Mexican, and the tale of how they made their way into the canon of Southern cooking more than a century ago is a truly American one. There are many takes on the story, but they all have something to do with Mexican laborers migrating north from Texas to pick cotton. There they shared their corn husk-wrapped snacks with African-American laborers and the tradition of the Mississippi Delta tamale was born. For more info on the fascinating American tamale check out The Southern Foodways Alliance's Tamale Trail project. While these Southern tamales might not look all that dissimilar from their south-of-the-border cousins, this version uses coarse ground corn meal as opposed to a finer maseca. Instead of stuffing the tamales with a salsa or mole-stewed meat, these are filled with a mix that's very similar to chili, using paprika, onion and garlic powder, cayenne, cumin, and a good amount of chili powder—giving them a very American flavor profile, far more at home at a fried chicken joint than a taqueria. As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook to give away this week. Adapted from The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook by John T. Edge and Sara Roahen. Copyright © 2010. Published by University of Georgia Press. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

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Recipe Details

Preparation Time: 
1 hour 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 
2 hours
Total Time: 
3 hours 30 minutes


Calories per serving:

297 calories

Dietary restrictions:

Sugar Conscious, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Egg Free, Milk Free, Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Soy Free, Fish Free, Shellfish Free, Alcohol Free, No Sugar Added

Daily value:



  • Fat 15g 23%
  • Carbs 20g 7%
  • Saturated 4g 22%
  • Fiber 2g 9%
  • Trans 0g
  • Sugars 0g
  • Monounsaturated 8g
  • Polyunsaturated 2g
  • Protein 21g 42%
  • Cholesterol 59mg 20%
  • Sodium 643mg 27%
  • Calcium 90mg 9%
  • Magnesium 45mg 11%
  • Potassium 421mg 12%
  • Iron 4mg 24%
  • Zinc 5mg 34%
  • Phosphorus 299mg 43%
  • Vitamin A 29µg 3%
  • Vitamin C 0mg 0%
  • Thiamin (B1) 0mg 29%
  • Riboflavin (B2) 0mg 21%
  • Niacin (B3) 7mg 34%
  • Vitamin B6 1mg 32%
  • Folic Acid (B9) 55µg 14%
  • Vitamin B12 2µg 32%
  • Vitamin D 0µg 0%
  • Vitamin E 2mg 8%
  • Vitamin K 3µg 4%
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