Marcia Kiesel buys so many ears of fresh corn every summer that she simply had to find a use for their beautiful husks. She discovered that they make perfect wrappers for grilled tamales. You can easily embelish the tamales by adding slices of grilled Italian sausage or, to be really decadent, a few disks of foie gras terrine.Plus: More Vegetable Recipes and Tips

August 2001


Credit: © William Meppem

Recipe Summary



Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Carefully remove the husks and silk from the ears of corn; make a cut slightly above the base of the corn, if necessary, to release the inner husks. Arrange the husks in 2 piles, the thick outer layers and the paler green, thinner ones. Cut the kernels from the cobs, stopping when you have 2 cups.

  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the mushrooms; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Uncover, add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant and the mushrooms are browned, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley. Transfer to a plate.

  • Add the water to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the corn and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook over moderate heat until tender, 4 minutes. Slowly whisk in the polenta over low heat until thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan and butter. Season with salt and pepper.

  • To assemble the tamales, spread 2 outer husks on a work surface, overlapping them at their base ends by 3 inches. If necessary, lay 2 large knives along opposite edges of the husks to keep them open. Spread 1/3 cup of the polenta in the center of the husks to within 1/2 inch of the edge to form a 4-by-2-inch rectangle 1 inch thick. Press 2 sticks of cheese into the polenta and top each tamale with one-sixth of the mushrooms and garlic. Cover the mushrooms with 2 large inner husks, overlapping them at their base ends. Tie the ends with kitchen string. Repeat with the remaining husks and ingredients.

  • Light a grill. Lightly brush the grate with vegetable oil and grill the tamales, outer husk side down, over a medium-hot fire for about 4 minutes, or until nicely browned. Carefully flip the tamales and grill for 2 minutes longer. Invert onto plates and serve at once with hot sauce or tomato salsa.

Make Ahead

The uncooked tamales can be refrigerated overnight.

Suggested Pairing

The sweet summer corn and creamy polenta will find an ideal partner in a big, buttery Chardonnay with some sweet, smoky oak. Choose a flavorful example from California.