Pork Tamales




Introduction: Pork Tamales

These are pork tamales in every sense-the filling is pork and the stock and lard mixed with the masa are all from a pig. Traditionally in Latin America, they are eaten on holidays and special occasions, and making them is a process, and you usually make about 100 at a time. They also freeze well, and you can take them out and steam them at any time. It's best to ask for people to help and plan on making lots.

Step 1: Slow Cook Pork

We broke down a whole pig, and are lucky enough to have a sous vide machine, so I put about 12 pounds of pork roast into the sous vide overnight at 140. It was super tender. If you don't have a whole pig or sous vide, buy pork shoulder or pork butt and slow cook it over a very low heat for 6 hours or cook it overnight in a crockpot. You can also add two cloves of garlic, a roughly chopped onion, and salt and pepper. Save the stock that it cooked in and use this when mixing the masa.

Step 2: Make Adobo Sauce

Use 10 dried ancho peppers and 10 dried pasilla peppers. Heat up a pan of water and soak these in the water. When they have softened, take them from the water, but don't discard it.

Remove the seeds and stems from the chili peppers. Put them in a food processor with 1 onion, 1 head of garlic, and 3 tbsps of cumin. Add 1.5 cups of the water you soaked the chilies in. Puree this into a sauce. Put this into a large saucepan and add 1 tbsp. of sugar and 1 tbsp. of vinegar and bring to a simmer.

Step 3: Simmer Pork in Adobo Sauce

Save the water you cooked the pork in. Remove the pork, shred it and add it to the adobo sauce. Keep it on a very low simmer.

Step 4: Mix Masa With Lard and Stock

The ratio used here will all depend on the directions on the package. All masa is different, so it's best to follow it. I used Maseca masa.

12 cups MASECA

14 cups pork broth

2.5 cups lard

2 tablespoon baking powder

2.5 tablespoons salt

Blend these together until they have a thick paste substance.

Step 5: Spread Masa in Corn Husks

Take two corn husks that have been soaked for at least 2 hours, and lay them on top of one another. Spread about 1/4 cup of masa in the husk. Smear it in the right hand corner of the leaves, leaving a few inches empty below and about 1 inch on the left side of the husk with no masa. Put in pork filling. We also added a little Oaxacan cheese and roasted poblano peppers.

Step 6: Roll Tamales

Start rolling from left to right, then when you reach the center, fold the bottom part of the corn husk upwards. Continue to roll until you reach the end.

Step 7: Steam Tamales

Put meat broth or water in the bottom of a large steamer. This should not be touching the bottom of the tamales, but also be careful it doesn't evaporate or you'll scorch the pan and tamales. Place your tamales in the steamer, cover and let them steam for 2 hours over a medium flame.

Step 8: Serve!

Tamales are pretty festive just on their own, but a little guacamole and salsa on the side are good also.



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    26 Discussions

    I will love to try this recipe I would make tamales for Christmas every year. Homemade tamales are the best.

    We have lived in New Mexico, Arizona & now Georgia since getting married and no-one makes tamales as good as my mother-in-law in Texas. Thank goodness she taught us. We have had just myself, my husband & our 2 sons make about a 100 one yr then a neighborhood party of friends help make them another yr! It feels good to be able bring something from "home" when u live somewhere else & are away from extended family members. Keeping a family tradition alive is important. Of course it doesn't hurt that they taste so darn good! This recipe sounds just like ours. We have even gone to Mexico to visit my husband's godparents & had homemade goat cheese. Awesome! A couple of his dad's sisters & their children still live in Mexico right on the border of Texas. Even though they r US citizens. His dad chose to stay in the US but in a city opposite of the border. So his mom lives just a mile from it. We now have to use passports to cross the border. Twenty yrs ago all u needed was a US driver license. Times a changing.


    3 years ago

    Another thing that helps is to strain the chili/onion/garlic blend (unless you have an amazing blender) because no one likes getting a piece of that stuck in you throat.

    2 replies

    Fortunately, I used a Vitamix, so no problems with that, but good advice.

    Gotta get me out e those....

    It may not be the 'traditional' way to roll up a tamale, but it looks like it works. Now, if you lay them on their sides to cook you'd have a serious leakage problem...

    I read somewhere that you should put a penny in the bottom of the pot. The penny will start to rattle when the boiling water starts to get low, it works! <g>

    1 reply

    Perhaps someone can help with this question.
    I've often read that one should beat the lard into the tamales until a small piece of dough floats in a glass of water.
    I have beaten until I began to worry for my kitchen aid mixer and I have never had the dough float.
    Is this a real thing, or am I doing extra work for nothing?

    1 reply

    I read several different methods for mixing the dough. I mainly follow the recipe on the masa package as they all differ slightly. I'll ask my ranchera relatives from Mexico-who are the real-deal tamale makers-what they do. (I know they soak the masa with a pig's head).

    I like these! I made tamales dulce with some super sweet corn, and pork (your recipe) and some of my family's recipe. I am stocked for the holidays! BTW, I wrap my tamales the same way as you do. My little sister as started using tiny ties (with bows). I am glad to know there is someone else who cooks their tamales for two hours. BTW, try the Oaxacan cheese in a mix of black beans and eggs...

    1 reply

    "Remove the seeds and stems from the chili peppers. Put them in a food processor with 1 onion, 1 head of garlic, and 3 tbsps of cumin."

    For clarification, the "them" in the second sentence is confusing. Specify that it's the peppers that are to be blended, not the seeds and stems!

    Otherwise this looks great; I love tamales and can't wait to try this out!

    1 reply

    Wonderful Instructable!

    I've made tamales, slightly different recipe (not as "hot"), and we had the husk at both ends 'tucked in'. If I remember correctly, one husk was "headed 'north' and the other headed 'south'....so we had a 'skinny' bit at each end to tuck in.

    Homemade tamales are a lot of work, but they are 'heaven' to eat!

    Not to be rude but those are called "cuchitos". But then again they aren't traditional with the use of spices.

    Nonetheless they will always come out delicious. I will try em out soon and maybe I'll let my grandmother try

    Good Recipe...excellent techniques that I will copy. We have learned to make what is known as Nacatamales, a national traditional dish in Nicaragua. And like these Nacatamales are usually made for Christmas and special occasions. The Nacatamales are similar but larger, and are wrapped in plantain or banana leaves.

    Awesome tamales. Thank you for the idea.

    sorry but that's not the way to pack a tamal, you need to bend the tip of the corn leaf when heating the tamal content wont get away

    1 reply

    maybe you missed a picture or two.. but he does bend the husk leaf in step 6 to cover the bottom. The top is left open, but the tamales are cooked upright in the steamer. Nothing can escape.