In Mexican culture, tamales are a tradition – that not only binds the family together through flavor – but also through their construction. Tamales take teamwork! When you talk the “T” WORD during the holidays…or any time of the year for that matter…you know you’re going to put in some work!
But the funny thing is…it’s those long hours in the kitchen that bring back some of the greatest memories for families. I feel blessed that I have many friends with Mexican blood who taught me why tamales mean so much to them. I have spent many days and nights in kitchens across this country helping my Amigos spread masa onto a cornhusk and filling it with my favorite meats. I’m forever grateful for those times I’ve gotten to spend with good friends.
Growing up in Miami, in a Puerto Rican household, our version of the tamale was the Pastele that my Abuela worked on for hours in the kitchen. When I was old enough to help her make them – I can remember beaming with pride when the family would unwrap them – and tell us how good they tasted! It’s that same pride you’ll get when someone says YOUR Tamale tastes soooo good!
Authentic Pork Tamale
- 3 pounds pork butt roast
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon saltwater to cover
- 3 ounces of chile pods seeds and veins removed
- 3 ounces New Mexico chile pods seeds and veins removed
- 1 cup of water
- 1 TBS Salt
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 cup lardsalt to tasted
- 1 Package of cornhusks
- 5 Pounds Masa Harina
- 1 Pound Lard
- 1 TBS Baking Powder
- Place pork butt, onion, 5 cloves garlic, and 1 tablespoon salt in a large pot; cover with water. Simmer mixture over medium heat until pork is very tender, about 3 hours. Discard onion and garlic. Strain and shred meat, reserving liquid.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir California chile pods and New Mexico chile pods in the hot skillet until toasted and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Rinse chile pods. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add chile pods; boil until chile pods are slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Drain and cool chile pods.
- Blend 1 cup pork broth, 1 cup water, chile pods, 1 tablespoon salt, 3 cloves garlic, and cumin together in a blender until smooth. Stir pork meat and chile sauce together in a bowl.
- Melt 1/2 cup lard in a large pot over medium heat. Stir flour into melted lard until browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir pork-chile sauce mixture into flour mixture, adding more salt if needed.
- Remove silk and debris from corn husks and soak in boiling water, 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drain and place on a work surface; cover with a clean, damp towel.
- Mix masa, 1 pound lard, 1 cup reserved pork broth, baking powder, and salt in a large pan until mixture is fluffy and holds together.
- Select 1 wide corn husk or 2 small ones. Spread about 2 tablespoons masa mixture onto corn husk, spreading to the sides and about 2 inches from the bottom and 1/4 inch from the top. Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons pork mixture down the center of masa mixture. Fold sides of husk together, 1 over the other. Fold the bottom of husk over seam of 2 folded sides. Repeat with remaining husks and filling.
- Place a steamer insert into a saucepan and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer. Bring water to a boil. Add tamales and cook until filling is heated through and set, 1 to 2 hours. Let tamales rest for 30 minutes before serving.