I guess that's why I picked up the Mini Chicken Tamalitos last week. They're a little pricier than I would have usually liked at $3.99, but I figured I could make two lunches from them, so it works. I know what you're thinking: "Hmm, frozen microwavable tamales. Yeah right." Well, if the bigger version works according to our resident tamale expert, I had hope for these pequeño pieces, too.
A little water in the bottom of some Tupperware, a damp paper towel over, a little plastic wrap and a couple minutes in the microwave are what you need for these. The result is a steamy hot little tamale to unhusk for your dining pleasure. These work. No, seriously. Take a look at the picture I took of one I intentionally sliced in half: soft warm corn masa wrap, a respectable amount of decent white meat chicken, and lots of glowing red spices that actually have a little kick to them. Si, delicioso. Each tamale is about two or three bites, so four or five of them is plenty for lunch, especially if you have some of your favorite sidekick pretzels. I've had fresh homemade tamales in Mexico, and while these TJ creations certainly can't hold a candle to them, they're respectable enough in their own way for both taste and texture. I really don't have much of an issue with them.
There is, of course, one goofy thing about them. In Spanish, if you put an -ito or -ita on the end of the word, the word then means "little ___." That's why "burrito" means "little donkey" and "Judge Ito" means "little judge." Likewise, "tamalito" equates to "little tamale." Not a problem, except there's also the word "mini" in the product name, which either makes the name redundant ("mini chicken little tamales"), or there's the implication that Trader Joe's has cultivated and harvested an entire race of micro-chickens for the sole purpose of creating these tamales and just maybe these tacos. I wouldn't put it beyond them, but man, that's a lot of unnecessary effort.
Anyways, as with most of my lunch escapades, it's just me grading these. Sandy's a little adverse to most tamales anyways as the texture of the masa dough usually gets to her, so I'm not sure she'd be a willing participant this time around anyways. Anyways, like I said, I really like these, perhaps a little more than I really should. Probably some of it has to do with when a random coworker asked me if you eat the husks, too. My only semi-valid complaint is, although they remain mostly intact, each teeny tamale I scarfed down had some of the stuff stick to the corn husk. Even though I used them for lunch, think of any time or situation where you could use a handful of tasty little tamales, and yeah, they'll work. Other than the sticking issue, I find myself swaying between a four and a four and a half for them, so let's just say a little of Column A and a little of Column B.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Mini Chicken Tamalitos: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons