Today is April 17 which means it's the one-year anniversary of my blog! Over the last 365 days, I have put together 178 posts, exploring all different cuisines and indulging in all kinds of sweets. 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!). To celebrate, I'm going all out and making pork tamales. Grab your corn husks and masa and make these immediately because they are too good to pass up!
- 2 ½ pound pork shoulder
- 7 dried Guajilo chiles
- 2-3 cups hot water
- 2 garlic peeled
- 2 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- corn husks
- ¾ lb lard or ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 2 lb masa mix specifically for tamales
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup - 1 cup water or chicken broth
- 4 pasilla peppers
- 1 jalapeno
- ½ small onion chopped
- 1 small tomato chopped
- 1 handful cilantro leaves
- juice of 1 lime
- salt and pepper
- 8 oz Mexican cheese blend
- Make the marinade for the pork. Cut the stems off the dried chilies 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.
- Blend the rehydrated chiles with ¾ cup of the soaking water, garlic, oregano, cumin, and salt until smooth. Pour the marinade onto the pork and marinate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- 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 it sit in the liquid. Set aside until ready to use.
- Soak the corn husks in warm water for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. Keep weight on top of the husks to keep them submerged in the liquid. Drain the liquid from the husks and set aside.
- Prepare the masa. Whip the lard on low 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.
- 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.
- Peel the skin off the peppers and jalapeno, discarding the stems and seeds. Blend the peppers and jalapeno with the onion, tomato, cilantro, and lime juice. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- To assemble the tamales: get your steamer ready by boiling the water. Take a corn husk and spread about ¼ cup of the prepared masa on the bottom half of the husk. Spread it as evenly as you can but it does not have to be perfect. Pile on about ¼ cup shredded pork in the center of the masa followed by shredded cheese and 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.
- 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.
- Lay the tamales in the steamer either standing up, with the open side facing up, or shingling the tamales. Steam for 45 minutes - 1 hour. You can also steam the tamales 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.
- Remove the tamales from the steamer or oven and serve immediately with extra salsa on the side.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Pork tamales are a lot of work so if you're like me, take several days to prepare everything. On the first day, marinate 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 that it's for tamales (written on the back). Keep in mind that this masa is still not ready to use!
To 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.
If 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.
You can also make the salsa the day before so that all you have to do on the day is assemble the tamales. To make the tamales, spread the prepared masa on the bottom portion of the husk, about halfway down. Be gentle with the husks because they do rip easily. Pile the pork, salsa, and shredded cheese on top of the masa, leaving a border around the filling. Fold in the left and right ends to cover the filling and then in half to tuck in the loose wrap.
To keep the tamales intact while they are steaming, wrap them with a thin strip of an extra corn husk. Place the tamales in the steamer and steam for about 1 hour. You can tell when your tamales are ready when they feel firm and peel easily off of the husk. You can always open one to check if they are ready.
Tamales 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 pork tamales; you can even store leftovers in the freezer and enjoy them later in the week!
For more Mexican food inspiration check out these short rib enchiladas roja!