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How To Make Authentic Mexican Pork Tamales

pork tamales

Tamales are a delicious, authentic Mexican dish that is made from masa dough and pork filling. The dish is made using a unique technique that involves corn husks. Steamed to perfection, tamales are a delicious snack or side dish that you can enjoy on weekends and holiday dinners with friends and family. Keep reading to learn how to make authentic Mexican pork tamales.

What are tamales?

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish that is delicious and very versatile. These are made from dough and are filled with either meat, vegetable, or fruits. The dish is wrapped in a corn husk and is steamed until the batter holds a shape.

Ingredient breakdown

tomatillos

Here is everything you will need for this recipe:

  • Dried corn husks: These are the dried outer skin or layer of the corn called the husk. You can easily get dried corn husks from any grocery store or you can dry them at home.

For the filling:

  • Pork: You will need boneless pork meat for this recipe. You can choose either shoulder or leg meat. Cut it into equal cubes.
  • Tomatillos: These are green fruits that are widely used in Mexican cuisine. These have an acidic flavor.
  • Ancho chiles: These are Mexican chiles that have a mildly hot flavor. You can also use guajillo chilies.
  • Garlic: It adds a savory flavor to the meat. You can use garlic powder instead of cloves as well.
  • Spices: Spices like cumin, black pepper, and salt are enough to add flavor to this filling.

For the batter:

  • Masa harina: It is made from corn after they are soaked in lime water.
  • Chicken stock: It adds meaty flavor to the batter.
  • Shortening: You can use pork lard instead of shortening as well.
  • Baking powder: It makes the dough airy and soft.

Can you store tamales?

tamales corn husks

Yes, you can make these in large batches and store them for later. Once they are completely cool, place them in an air-tight container or in a plastic zip-lock bag and refrigerate. They will last for up to 5 days.

You can also freeze tamales. Place them in a baking tray and freeze for 2 hours. Then take them out of the freezer and transfer them to a plastic zip lock bag and freeze. They will last for up to 6 months.

You can reheat the tamales by steaming them, heating them in the microwave, or in the oven.

How to Make Authentic Mexican Pork Tamales Recipe

how to make authentic Mexican pork tomales

  • Preparation time: 2 hours
  • Cooking time: 4 hours
  • Total time: 6 hours
  • Serving: 6

Ingredients

  • 8-ounce dried corn husks

For the filling:

  • ¾ lbs. pork boneless, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 2 tomatillos
  • 8 ancho chiles, dried, stemmed, and torn into pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • Salt

For the batter:

  • 3 ½ cups masa harina in 2 ¼ cups hot water
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken stock
  • ¾ cups shortening
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt

Preparation

  1. In a very large bowl, pour warm water and place corn husks in it. Place a heavy pot on the husks. Let the husks sit in the water for about 2 to 3 hours.
  2. Place a saucepan on medium heat and add tomatillos and peppers. Pour enough water to cover the tomatillos and bring it to a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. In a blender add tomatillo mixture, garlic, cumin, and black pepper. Blend until you get a smooth puree.
  4. Using a mesh strainer, strain this puree directly into a saucepan.
  5. Add boneless pork, about one and a half cups of water, and salt into the saucepan.
  6. Let this mixture simmer on medium heat for about one to one and a half hours or until the meat is tender and the liquid gets a thick saucy consistency. Once the meat is cooked, break it into small pieces and set the mixture aside to cool down.

For the batter:

  1. In a large pan, add water mixed masa, baking powder, and salt. Mix well using your hands.
  2. Add shortening and continue to mix with your hands so that everything is well incorporated.
  3. Pour in broth about a half cup a time and continue to mix until you get consistency, just like a cake batter. Make sure it’s not too runny.

Assembly:

  1. Take the corn husk out of the water and place it in a kitchen towel so that extra moisture is absorbed by it. Tear a sting of the husk from one of its sides. You will need it later for tying.
  2. Place the husk on a working station and place a tablespoon of batter on it. Spread the batter in a rectangular field of the husk leaving about an inch from all sides.
  3. Place about two tablespoons of pork mixture on the center of the batter.
  4. Place one-third of the husk from right over the pork mixture and then the left side on it. Now fold the bottom part upwards. Tie it with the string to secure the tamale.
  5. Repeat with all the corn husks and place the tamales on the steamer basket. Cover the tamales with corn husks and let them steam on medium heat for about one hour.
  6. After an hour, check if the corn husks easily peel away the batter. Once done, take them off the heat and let them sit for some time so that the batter firms up.
  7. Peel the corn husk and dig in!

How to Make Authentic Mexican Pork Tamales Recipe

Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 4 hrs
Servings 6 people

Ingredients
  

  • 8 ounce dried corn husks
  • For the filling:
  • ¾ lbs. pork boneless cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 2 tomatillos
  • 8 ancho chiles dried, stemmed, and torn into pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • Salt
  • For the batter:
  • 3 ½ cups masa harina in 2 ¼ cups hot water
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken stock
  • ¾ cups shortening
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions
 

  • In a very large bowl, pour warm water and place corn husks in it. Place a heavy pot on the husks. Let the husks sit in the water for about 2 to 3 hours.
  • Place a saucepan on medium heat and add tomatillos and peppers. Pour enough water to cover the tomatillos and bring it to a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • In a blender add tomatillo mixture, garlic, cumin, and black pepper. Blend until you get a smooth puree.
  • Using a mesh strainer, strain this puree directly into a saucepan.
  • Add boneless pork, about one and a half cups of water, and salt into the saucepan.
  • Let this mixture simmer on medium heat for about one to one and a half hours or until the meat is tender and the liquid gets a thick saucy consistency. Once the meat is cooked, break it into small pieces and set the mixture aside to cool down.
  • For the batter:
  • In a large pan, add water mixed masa, baking powder, and salt. Mix well using your hands.
  • Add shortening and continue to mix with your hands so that everything is well incorporated.
  • Pour in broth about a half cup a time and continue to mix until you get consistency, just like a cake batter. Make sure it’s not too runny.
  • Assembly:
  • Take the corn husk out of the water and place it in a kitchen towel so that extra moisture is absorbed by it. Tear a sting of the husk from one of its sides. You will need it later for tying.
  • Place the husk on a working station and place a tablespoon of batter on it. Spread the batter in a rectangular field of the husk leaving about an inch from all sides.
  • Place about two tablespoons of pork mixture on the center of the batter.
  • Place one-third of the husk from right over the pork mixture and then the left side on it. Now fold the bottom part upwards. Tie it with the string to secure the tamale.
  • Repeat with all the corn husks and place the tamales on the steamer basket. Cover the tamales with corn husks and let them steam on medium heat for about one hour.
  • After an hour, check if the corn husks easily peel away the batter. Once done, take them off the heat and let them sit for some time so that the batter firms up.
  • Peel the corn husk and dig in!

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