Bringing Heat To The Kitchen

Tamales are definitely much more than just cornhusks and filling, especially when they are created in the kitchen of chef Joanne Bondy, co-owner of Ciudad, an authentic Mexican restaurant in Dallas, Texas.

Bondy visited The Early Show's kitchen with a recipe for mouthwatering tamales that are easy to make at home.

Before opening Ciudad, Bondy was Chef de Cuisine at Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Miss. She was responsible for opening three restaurants within the resort. Bondy also worked at the exclusive Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa in Phoenix, where she held the position of Chef de Cuisine at the five star award winning Wright's Restaurant.

Later, as Banquet Chef at the Fairmont Hotel Dallas, Bondy developed her high volume food production skills, and garnered a reputation for conventions and social functions. In addition, while working as a freelance chef in Atlanta she catered private functions, and created and prepared cuisine for VIP events and high profile guest such as former President Ronald Regan, the king and queen of Greece, Mayor Maynard Jackson, Governor Andrew Young and Elton John.

She was a guest chef at the James Beard house in November of 2003. She will cook for the Beard House annual awards dinner in May.

Bondy wants to stress that Mexican food, with its many colors and flavors, is uncomplicated. Ingredients, such as chicken, lime, tomatoes, chipotle peppers, cinnamon, oregano and banana leaves combined are as complicated as her Early Show recipes get. Bondy says tinga, which she uses in some of her recipes, is usually a Mexican or Latin American dish of seasoned braised meat flavored with chipotle, poblano or other chiles.

The tinga sauce is good with meatballs, according to Bondy. And, chicken tinga is good with rice and tostadas with avocado and pico de gallo. Bondy says it's also good served on a bolillo (French roll) for a torta (sandwich), topped with a poached egg or fried egg.

Bondy's spin on the recipe is that the tamale casing for the chicken tinga is actually a banana leaf instead of a cornhusk.

In addition to the chicken tinga wrapped in banana leaf, one can do a vegetarian version with masa.


Hibiscus Augua Fresca

2 cups dried Jamaica (hibiscus)
12 cups of water
1 cup sugar

Rinse the hibiscus well and drain. Simmer for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool 15 minutes. Strain and discard flowers. Add sugar to the liquid and let dissolve. Serve on ice with a slice of lime.

Chicken Tinga with Pickled Red Onions
pickled purple onion
2 cups julienne purple onions
1/2 cup key lime juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Heat liquid and seasoning, then add julienne onions. Let the ingredients marinate for 1 hour.

Chicken Tinga for Tamales
1 small chicken (roasted, de-boned and shredded)
1 finely chopped large white onion
2 garlic cloves (minced)
8 Roma tomatoes (roast, skin then puree)
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon Piloncillo sugar
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch ground cloves
1 piece Chipotle en Adobo
salt and pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan. Simmer all ingredients for 10 minutes except chicken. Add the roasted-shredded chicken. Simmer for 10 more minutes.

If mixture needs thickening, add little masa and cook for 3 more minutes.

Masa Wrapped in Banana Leaves

1 pound masa harina
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (leave a little out for oiling the softened tamale leaves)
1 cup fresh cut corn
mix until spongy or floats in water

To Prepare the Banana (Plantain) Leaves:

Flame banana leaves until pliable. Cut into 8-inch squares. Rub leaves with a bit of shortening. Place masa portion in middle. Then top with tinga. Fold over leaves to make small package. You can tie them with a strip of leaf or with a cornhusk. Steam for 1 hour.