We love the idea of collaborative recipe testing. It's something you do all the time on this board, and we do it too in our test kitchen. So here's the idea for the CHOW Recipe Lab: combine forces. We will show you our recipe works-in-progress, and solicit your tips and ideas on how to make them better. Together we'll come up with a recipe we can all be proud of.
How we think this will work: This is the first one so we'll see how it goes and adjust along the way. We'll post a draft of the recipe and open it up to you to test it, taste it, and give us your feedback right here. We want real-world feedback (i.e. you’ve ideally cooked it and have specific info for hiccups you encountered along the way). After a week of everyone’s responses, we’ll go back in the kitchen, edit, and repost the next draft. Repeat, maybe two or three rounds. The final product will be a recipe we’ve all created and we’ll sum up what worked, what didn’t, and recap the comments that brought us to the final version. All you have to do is be willing to cook up the recipe, and give us your constructive criticism.
The first recipe in this project is sweet tamales -- here's our draft: http://www.chow.com/recipes/18744 We’ve tested them a couple of times. We want it to be delicious and a good introduction to tamales, something that non-expert cooks can make and feel good about. How do you do it? We're open to any and all feedback, but here are some specific questions: 1) how did the formation of the tamales go? 2) how long did they take to cook for you? 3) do you like how sweet they are or do you want more flavor? 4) try them with another fat (ie vegetable shortening) and let us know how they turned out.
Timeline: please try the recipe and post comments in this thread by March 30. And have fun!