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Pork Tamales Recipe | Bon Appétit image

If you can spread butter on bread, you can follow this pork tamales recipe, bursting with a deep red chile purée that flavors the filling and masa.

Provided by Rick Martinez

Yield Makes about 30

Number Of Ingredients 29

1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
5 large ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
3 dried guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 morita chiles
2 pasilla chiles, stems and seeds removed
1½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon crushed Mexican or Italian dried oregano
1 pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), fat trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound pork belly, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 pounds fresh coarse-grind corn masa for tamales (unprepared)
1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons (or more) lard, melted
¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3¾ cups instant corn masa flour (such as Maseca Tamal Instant Corn Masa Mix)
2 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons lard, melted, plus more if needed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1½ teaspoons baking powder
30 dried corn husks (from a 1-pound bag)
3 cups (or more) low-sodium chicken broth
Fresh salsa and lime wedges (for serving)
A spice mill or mortar and pestle


  • Heat lard in a large heavy pot over medium-high. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and softened, 6–8 minutes. Add ancho, guajillo, morita, and pasilla chiles and broth and bring to a boil. Cover pot, remove from heat, and let sit, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes to allow chiles to soften.
  • Meanwhile, toast coriander seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, swirling often and adding cumin seeds during the last 30 seconds, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let cool; finely grind in spice mill or with mortar and pestle.
  • Preheat oven to 250°. Transfer chile mixture to a blender; reserve pot. Add ground toasted spices, garlic, and oregano and purée until smooth, adding more broth if mixture is too thick or won't blend, about 2 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup purée for masa and set aside until ready to use. Place pork shoulder, pork belly, bay leaf, salt, and remaining chile purée (about 1¾ cups) in reserved pot. Bring mixture to a boil, cover pot, and transfer to oven. Braise pork until very tender and it shreds easily, 2–2½ hours. Let cool 15 minutes, then skim fat from sauce; discard bay leaf.
  • Using a potato masher or a large fork, smash pork into sauce until meat is shredded and incorporated into sauce. Stir in vinegar; let cool.
  • Transfer filling to an airtight container and chill until pork is cold and firm, at least 3 hours. Do Ahead: Filling can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.
  • Mix masa, lard, broth, salt, and reserved chile purée in a large bowl with your hands until well incorporated and mixture looks shiny and smooth, about 4 minutes.
  • Slap the top of masa with the palm of your hand, immediately pulling your hand back. If masa doesn’t stick and your hand looks shiny, the dough is ready. If masa sticks, add another 2 Tbsp. lard and knead until incorporated; repeat slap test. If masa still sticks to your hand, repeat process until you get there (another 2 Tbsp. lard should do it).
  • Mix corn masa flour, stock, lard, salt, baking powder, and ¼ cup reserved chile purée in a large bowl with your hands until dough comes together. Continue to knead until mixture looks smooth and shiny, about 4 minutes.
  • Slap top of masa with the palm of your hand, immediately pulling your hand back; if dough sticks to your hand, add 2 Tbsp. more lard and knead to incorporate. Repeat slap test. If masa doesn’t stick and your hand looks shiny, dough is ready. If masa sticks, continue adding lard 2 Tbsp. at a time and repeat slap test. Let dough sit 30 minutes, uncovered, until the consistency of peanut butter; it will thicken as it sits.
  • Soak husks in a large bowl of hot water until soft and pliable, about 15 minutes. Using your hands, swirl husks in water to loosen any silks or dirt. Drain, rinse, and shake off excess water.
  • Place a husk on a work surface and gently stretch out wide end. Measure 5" wide, then tear off any excess (hold onto the scraps; you’ll use them later). The width doesn’t have to be exactly 5", but if you go any narrower, your tamale might not cover the filling. This recipe makes about 30 tamales; prep a few extra husks in case some tear.
  • Arrange husk so wide end is closest to you. Spoon 2 heaping Tbsp. masa onto husk about 4" from the bottom. Using a putty knife, small offset spatula, or butter knife, spread masa into a thin, even layer, covering the width of the husk and about 5" up the length of the husk; leave the narrow end uncovered. If you mess up, just scrape off masa and start over. Repeat with remaining husks and masa.
  • Keeping wide end closest to you, place 2 Tbsp. cold pork filling in the center of masa on each husk, forming a log that runs down the center. Fold 1 side of husk over filling, then fold other side over to cover. Holding tamale seam side up, fold narrow, pointed end of husk away from you and under tamale. Set on a rimmed baking sheet seam side up. Repeat with remaining tamales.
  • Line a large heavy pot with husk scraps. Crumple a large sheet of foil to form a 3"-diameter ball. Place ball in center of pot. Using ball as support, prop tamales upright, with folded end down and seam side facing up, around ball; this will take 4–7 tamales. Continue stacking tamales around the ball, leaning them against one another. Pour broth into pot, being careful not to get any inside tamales (broth should come about ¾" up sides of tamales). Bring liquid to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover pot and simmer tamales, undisturbed, adding more stock as needed to keep some liquid in pot, 40 minutes.
  • Remove a tamale from pot; let cool 3 minutes. (If you don’t let it rest before checking, masa will stick to husk and appear gummy.) Remove husk; if masa sticks to husk, it’s not ready. Carefully refold and return to pot. Cook 5 minutes more; check again. If husk peels back easily, tamales are done. Remove from heat, uncover, and let sit 10 minutes before unwrapping. Serve with salsa and lime wedges for squeezing over.


Tía Chita’s Traditional Mexican Pork Tamales Recipe | Food ... image

We felt tamales were appropriate for Día de los Muertos because of how labor intensive they are. The "tamalada," a family gathering to make tamales, allows us an opportunity to gather as a family to celebrate and honor our ancestors' memory, and at the end of the day, everyone takes home at least a dozen. What makes Tía Chita’s recipe different is the amount of manteca (lard) we use to make it easier for the tamales to slide off the leaf.

Provided by Food Network

Categories     main-dish

Total Time 5 hours 0 minutes

Cook Time 1 hours 30 minutes

Yield 30 to 32 tamales

Number Of Ingredients 13

2 1/2 pounds bone-in pork butt roast
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil 
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns 
3 dried bay leaves 
1/2 medium onion 
4 large cloves garlic 
Kosher salt 
30 to 32 corn husks (from one 8-ounce package) 
2 ancho chiles  
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 
12 ounces lard 
4 cups masa harina preparada (instant corn flour) for tamales, such as Maseca Tamal 
3/4 teaspoon baking powder 


  • There are a few steps to making tamales and it is usually an all-day affair.
  • Cooking the meat: Chop the pork butt into 3-inch cubes; reserve the bone.  
  • Add the oil to a large pot or Dutch oven and place over medium-high heat (we use a Dutch oven because it seems to cook faster). Add the pork butt to the pot. Sear the sides slightly until just golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Add the peppercorns, bay leaves, onion, 3 cloves of the garlic and 1 tablespoon salt. Add 2 to 4 cups of water, or enough to cover the pork butt, then add the reserved bone. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and bring it to a boil. Cook on medium heat until very tender, about 2 hours. 
  • Preparing the corn husks: Separate the corn husks and take off all the little hairs and dust from them. Allow them to soak in hot water while the pork is cooking (or soak overnight).  
  • Carefully remove the pork from the broth with tongs to a plate or cutting board. Pour the leftover broth through a colander into a large bowl so that all the onion and other ingredients stay behind. Set the strained broth aside for later (about 4 cups). 
  • Shred the meat with 2 forks into small bite-size pieces. (You want it small enough that you aren’t getting large pieces or chunks into the tamal.) Transfer to a medium saucepan. 
  • Preparing the chile: Cut the stems from the ancho chiles, open them and remove all the seeds and veins. Put them in a 3-quart saucepan, cover with water and add 1 teaspoon salt. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, remove from the heat, set aside, cover and let steam for 5 minutes.
  • To a blender, add the softened chiles, ground cumin and 1/4 teaspoon salt and blend. Press in the remaining clove of garlic and slowly add 2/3 cup of the reserved pork broth. Continue to blend until smooth. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup of the chile mixture for the masa, then pour the remaining red chile sauce over the shredded pork and mix together to combine. Keep warm over low heat. 
  • Preparing the masa: Melt the lard in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Pour the melted lard into a large bowl. Add the masa harina to the bowl of lard, then add the baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt, reserved 1/4 cup of the red chile sauce and 1/2 cup of the reserved pork broth. Knead well. Add more pork broth as needed until the dough is moistened and fluffy. 
  • Assembling the tamales: Drain the husks and pat them dry with a clean towel. Spread the kneaded masa onto the smooth side of the corn husks with a spoon in the center of the husks (2 to 3 tablespoons of masa per husk). Add the meat to the center of the masa, 1 to 2 tablespoons per husk. Fold over the husks in half vertically so that the masa wraps around the filling completely. Fold the pointy side up at the end to hold the tamale in place. 
  • Cooking the tamales: Arrange the tamales open-side up around the inside of a steamer basket that fits into a large (10-quart) pot, packing the tamales together. If there's extra space in the steamer basket, place a mason jar or small heatproof ceramic bowl upside down in the center, arranging the tamales around it. Arrange a layer of husks around the sides of the steamer basket and up over the top of the tamales and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Fill the large pot with 1 to 2 inches of water. (Note: You can put a penny at the bottom of the pot so you can hear it rolling when you need more water.) Bring the water to a rolling simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium low, set the steamer basket inside of the pot and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the tamales to steam for 1 to 2 hours or until the masa pulls away from the husks. Let sit to cool down for 5 to 10 minutes. Use tongs to remove the tamales afterwards and set on a jelly roll pan to cool down. 

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