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www.goodeatsfanpage.com • View topic - Nut Tree Turkey Tamale Recipe

Nut Tree Turkey Tamale Recipe

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Nut Tree Turkey Tamale Recipe

Postby Champagne Charlie » Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:52 pm

The Nut Tree Restaurant was a roadside attraction on Interstate 80 between Sacramento and San Francisco. It was there for a lot of years, though how many exactly, I do not know. About a decade back they tore the restaurant down to make room for yet another mall, which still carries the Nut Tree name, but there is nothing else of the old place there.

Ever since the Nut Tree went the way of all things, over a decade ago, I have been searching for this recipe. I searched the Internet first, then the Nut Tree cookbooks and the Vacaville history museum. I even called a couple of old cooks who had worked there, all to no avail.

I was killing time on the Internet yesterday, and I thought I would check there again, and, lo and behold there it was, and here I share it with you. The filling provided is that which they used at the Nut Tree, and it was pretty good for what it was. More importantly it includes the technique for wrapping those multi-layered tamale parlor style tamales of the type that I grew up with at the old Capital Tamale. These are a lot of work, but they are real treats and I have not had the like for many years.

A couple of notes on Spanish Seasoning and Chili Powder. The Nut Tree used a product called Grandma's Spanish Seasoning. Around ten years ago the manufacturer changed the name on Grandma's Spanish Seasoning to Grandma's Chili Powder and about one year back they ceased manufacture of it altogether. In truth it was always a very basic chili powder.

This is odd because this recipe calls for both Spanish Seasoning and Chili Powder, which are, in essence, the same thing. The reason for this is that, because of the quantities used, I suspect that the so-called "Chili Powder" used is in fact powdered chile peppers of the cayenne type or something similar, added for heat. I am going to try my chili powder mix from World Spice Merchants and a bit of Indian cayenne. It will be different because the World Spice chili powder that I get has a strong smoke presence that the original did not have.

From Memo's Kitchen

Nut Tree Restaurant Turkey Tamales

Herbert Hoover dined on the Turkey Tamales at The Nut Tree after losing the 1932 presidential election.

From: Nut Tree Resaurant
Source: Taste - Sacramento Bee

Ingredients:

50 large corn husks (5 per tamale)

For the Tamale Sauce:

3 cups all-purpose flour
8 cups water
2 to 4 tablespoons chili powder, depending on heat desired
2 tablespoons chicken base or bouillon
1 to 2 tablespoons Spanish-style seasoning, Grandma's brand if available
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt

For the Masa:

6 pounds prepared masa (available in Mexican markets)
1-1/2 tablespoons Spanish-style seasoning
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

For the Filling:

5 to 6 pounds cooked turkey, cooled, cut into large chunks or shredded
10 large Spanish green olives, with pits (traditional)
String to tie tamale ends

For Serving:

Avocado, black beans and tomato salsa.

Method:

Soak corn husks in warm water for 10 minutes or until soft. Rinse in cold water, removing all silk. Stand husks on end to allow excess water to drain.

To make the Tamale Sauce:

Combine flour with half of the water, mix until smooth. Set aside. Combine remaining water, spices and seasonings in a large pot and bring to a boil. Slowly add flour mixture while stirring until smooth. Return sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook while stirring for 15 minutes
or until mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

To prepare the Masa:

Combine prepared masa and spices until completely mixed.

To make one Tamale:

You will need 5 husks for each tamale.
1) Spread a 1/4-inch-thick layer (about 3 tablespoons) of masa across the centers of 4 prepared husks. Leave about 2 inches at each end of the corn husks without masa.
2) Pour 1 cup of the tamale sauce on the center of the fifth corn husk. Place 8 to 10 ounces of turkey and one olive on top of the sauce of the fifth husk. Holding the ends of the fifth husk, roll the husk around the sauce, turkey and olive, completely enclosing them.
3) While continuing to hold the sauce husk ends (the fifth husk), place one of the masa-covered husks, masa side up, under the sauce husk and gently roll it around the sauce husk. 4) Repeat this process with the last three masa-covered husks.
5) Wrap string tightly around each end of the tamale twice and tie with a double knot. Cut excess string off each end, and then wrap entire tamale in parchment paper.
NOTE: The tamale may be frozen at this point, in an airtight plastic bag, or refrigerated up to two days.
Repeat the process with the remaining sauce, husks, masa and filling. When ready to use tamales, steam them for best quality. Do not microwave.

To steam the Tamales:

Arrange tamales in a single layer on a steamer. Pour boiling water to just below the rack and cover tightly.
Steam about 1 1/2 hours or until center reaches at least 140 degrees. Keep water boiling hard over medium-high heat. Add more boiling water as it boils away.
If you are cooking frozen tamales, steam an additional half-hour.

To Serve:

Use your largest dinner plates. Provide extra plates to take care of the husks as they are discarded. Take up one tamale at a time onto a platter or cutting board. Remove parchment paper. With a sharp knife, snip cords at ends of tamale. Lift tamale onto dinner plate.

The Nut Tree served their tamales with avocado, black beans and tomato salsa.

Makes 10 tamales
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Champagne Charlie
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Re: Nut Tree Turkey Tamale Recipe

Postby Missjane » Wed Jul 14, 2010 3:31 pm

(sigh) I miss the old Nut Tree. It's truely a shame that the kids had so many issues that they thought selling it was better than trying to work it out. I cooked the turkeys for those tamales every day for 5 years! they employed three women full time who did nothing but make tamales. none of them spoke english very well, and other than telling them when I put the turkeys in the cooler, I never paid much attention to the specifics of the process, after all, it was The Nut Tree's Tamales! They would be around forever! Nut Tree Tropical Chicken, and Marshmallow sauce are still staples on my kitchen table. This is the time of year when we would do the Friday night Good Time Barbecues. 3-400 people, steaks grilled outside over charcoal, live music, and Cobbler for desseert. I think the whole community is dissapointed in what the Nut Tree has become.
"life is indeed a constant source of joy!!!!! every breath a gift, every moment a potential delight ... ask anyone who is dead... thiis is the real thing "

Mario Batali
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