Today is April 17 which means it’s the one year anniversary of my blog! I can’t believe it’s already been one year! Over the last 365 days, I have put together 178 posts, exploring all different cuisines and gorging on all the sweets that I have baked for this site. This site first started as motivation for me to stay excited about my job and now it has grown into one of my passions. If I could I would work on my blog all day and not work (if only!)

Now for the recipe, I went all out today and made pork tamales. I’ve made tamales before but I have to admit, this recipe is the best one I’ve tried so far. Grab your corn husks and masa and make these immediately because they are too good to pass up!tamalestamalestamales

Pork tamales with salsa verde

5 hrTotal Time

Yields 30 tamales

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  • 2 1/2 pound pork shoulder
  • 7 dried Guajilo chiles
  • 2-3 cups hot water
  • 2 garlic, peeled
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Corn husks
  • Masa
  • 3/4 lb or 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 lb masa mix, specifically for tamales
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup - 1 cup water or broth
  • Salsa
  • 4 pasilla peppers
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1 handful cilantro leaves
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 oz Mexican cheese blend


  1. Make the marinade for the pork. Cut the stems off the dried chiles and shake out as many seeds as you can. Soak in 2-3 cups hot water and keep weight on top, such as a bowl, to keep the chiles submerged. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Blend chilies with 3/4 cup of the water it was soaking in. Add garlic, oregano, cumin, and salt and blend until the mixture is smooth. Pour the marinade onto the pork and marinate for at least 8 hours and up to one day.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  4. Place the pork with the marinade in a baking dish and cover with foil. Roast for 3 hours or until fork tender. The pork should be tender enough that it can easily be separated with a fork. Shred the pork and let sit in the liquid. Set aside until ready to use.
  5. Soak the corn husks in warm water for at least 30 minutes and up to a night. Keep weight on top of the husks to keep them submerged in the liquid. Drain the liquid from the husks and set aside.
  6. Prepare the masa. Whip the lard at a slow speed until fluffy. Add the masa mix, baking powder, and salt and mix together. Slowly add the water or broth as needed. Your masa is ready when a small piece of the dough can float in a glass of water. If you are using vegetable oil, mix the masa mix with the oil, baking powder and salt until incorporated. Slowly add the water or broth as needed. Set aside.
  7. Make the salsa verde by roasting the pasilla peppers and jalapeno in 400 degrees F for 15 minutes or until the skin begins to blacken. Remove from the oven, place the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the plastic and begin to carefully peel the skin off the peppers. Remove the stems and seeds from the pasilla peppers but keep the jalapeno seeds. Put all of the roasted peppers and jalapeno seeds in a blender with the onion, tomato, cilantro, and lime juice. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  9. To assemble the tamales: get your steamer ready by boiling the water. Take a corn husk with no tears and spread about 1/4 cup of the prepared masa about 2 inches down from the top of the husk. Spread as evenly as you can but it does not have to be perfect. Lay about 2-3 tbsp of the shredded pork in the center of the masa lengthwise followed by shredded cheese and 2 tbsp salsa verde. Fold in the ends of the tamale towards the middle (lengthwise), wrapping the meat and cheese. Fold over the narrow end of the husk (the part with no masa on it), folding the tamale in half.
  10. Use a corn husk that has a tear or hole and peel strands of the husk from the top to bottom. Use these strands to bind the tamales together, securing the folded ends. Continue assembling the remaining tamales.
  11. Lay the tamales in the steamer either standing up, with the open side facing up, or shingling the tamales. Steam for 1 hour and 30 minutes. You can also steam in the oven by placing a wire rack in a baking dish. Place a casserole dish on top of the wire rack and place the tamales inside. Cover with foil. Pour hot water into the bottom of the baking dish and bake in the oven at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  12. Remove the tamales from the steamer or oven and serve immediately with extra salsa on the side.

**Helpful tips and common mistakes

Tamales are a lot of work so if you’re like me, you can take several days to prepare everything. On the first day, marinade the pork. I purchased a bone in pork shoulder but you can also cook one without the bone.

The next day cook your pork. While your pork is roasting, make the masa. Now I had to do a lot of research for the masa. I’ve always used already prepared masa so this is a new step for me. I first purchased maseca but I realized that you have to use maseca that is purposely for tamales; mine was not. Therefore, I switched to El Burrito Masa that clearly stated for tamales (written on the back). Keep in mind that this masa is still not ready to use!
tamalesTo finish the steps for the masa, you must incorporate a fat such as lard or oil. I’ve also seen masa made with shortening. Lard is the best option since it flavors the masa in a way that oil cannot, but I used oil to be healthier. Once the ingredients are beaten together, the masa is ready to use. You can refrigerate until ready to use. Masa also freezes quite well if you want to make a large batch and save the rest for next time.
tamalesIf making the tamales the next day, you can also choose to soak the husks overnight. Soaking the husks allows them to soften and prevents them from tearing when assembling the tamales.
tamalesYou can also make the salsa the day before so that all you have to do the day of is assemble the tamales.

It’s easier to shred the pork when warm so shred after it is cooked, cool and refrigerate until the next day (or use immediately). You want to let it sit in the liquid so the pork won’t dry out.

Now it’s finally time to make the tamales! Have all your ingredients out in an assembly line to make it easier for you. The cheese is optional and can be taken out.
tamalesI don’t have a traditional steamer so I placed a rack in a large pot with a casserole dish on top of the rack. Lay the tamales inside, cover and let steam. Keep an eye on your water, refilling if needed.
tamalesI ran out of space in the top steamer so I finished the rest in the oven. This was my first time steaming the tamales in the oven, but it worked just as well!
tamalesYou can tell when your tamales are ready when they feel firm. The masa should have set, the cheese melted, and the pork should be hot. You can always open one to check if they are ready.
tamalesTamales are usually on the dry side but these were far from it! The pork had so much flavor and the juices from the pork combined with the salsa and the cheese prevented the tamale from being dry. Absolutely delicious! Three days of work is well rewarded with these tamales; you can even store leftovers in the freezer and enjoy later in the week!



Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.


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