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Red Chile Pork Tamales
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    Red Chile Pork Tamales

    For the filling:
  • 16 medium dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded and each torn into several pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 11/2 pounds lean boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Salt
  • For the batter:
  • 1 1/4 cups pork lard (or vegetable shortening), slightly softened but not runny
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 pounds (4 cups) fresh coarse-ground corn masa (available at Mexican markets) or 3 1/2 cups dried masa harina, mixed with 2 1/4 cups hot water
  • 1-1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 package corn husks
  • Preparing the filling:
    In a blender or a food processor fitted with a metal blade, working in batches if necessary, combine the chiles, garlic, pepper and cumin. Add 3 cups of water, cover and blend to a smooth puree. Strain the mixture through a strainer into a medium (3-quart) saucepan. Add the meat, 3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt. Simmer, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the pork is fork-tender and the liquid is reduced to the consistency of a thick sauce, about 1 hour. Use a fork to break the pork into small pieces. Taste and season with salt if necessary. Let cool to room temperature.

    Preparing the batter:
    With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the lard (or shortening) with baking powder and 2 teaspoons salt until light in texture, about 1 minute. Continue beating as you add the masa (fresh or reconstituted) in three additions. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add 1 cup of the broth. Continue beating for another minute or so, until a half-teaspoon dollop of the batter floats in a cup of cold water. (If it floats, you can be sure the tamales will be tender and light). Beat in enough additional broth to give the mixture the consistency of soft cookie dough. You may not need to add any broth if using fresh masa. Taste the batter and season with additional salt if you want. For the lightest-textured tamales, refrigerate the batter for an hour or so, then re-beat, adding enough additional broth or water to bring the mixture to the soft consistency it had before.

    Preparing the cornhusks:
    Submerge the cornhusks in a dishpan, sink or bucket and cover them with hot water. Let them stand 1 hour or longer until they are softened. Just before using, rinse each cornhusk separately and remove any silk. Drain well and pat with paper towels to remove excess water. If the husks are too wide for the size tamale you want, tear off one side. If the husks are too narrow, overlap two husks to make a wide one.

    To fill the tamales, place a cornhusk in the palm of your hand, point toward you. Place a spoonful of dough in the center and spread it slightly. Leave a half-inch margin around the edge to allow for folding the husk. Place a little filling on the dough and spread it slightly with your fingers. Fold the sides of the husk to the center, enclosing the filling completely. Some cooks like to spread a little more dough over the filling before folding the cornhusk. Fold the pointed end under, keeping the seam on the outside. Wrapping the tamale in additional husks makes sure they will remain sealed while steaming. To close the tamales, tie the pointed side with a string or a torn strip of cornhusk.

    Steaming the tamales:
    Steaming the tamales can be done in batches in a collapsible vegetable steamer set into a large, deep pot, with the steamer rack high enough that tamales will not touch water. Pour an inch or so of water into the bottom of the pot. Stand the tamales next to each other on the rack with the closed end down. Set the lid in place and heat the water to a boil, steaming the tamales over a constant medium heat for about 11/4 hours. Watch carefully to make sure that all the water doesn't boil away and, to keep the steam steady, pour boiling water into the pot when more is necessary. Tamales are done when the cornhusks peel away easily from the masa. Let the tamales stand in the steamer off the heat for a few minutes to firm up. For the best-textured tamales, let them cool completely, then steam them again for about 15 minutes to heat them through.

    Preparing and steaming tamales in foil:
    Place masa and filling just above the center of a 9-by-7-inch piece of foil. Fold foil in half, enclosing masa and filling completely. Fold edges twice to make a secure seal. Stand tamale folded edge down on a steamer rack over water in a large pot. Cover the pot and steam for 1 hour or until the dough pulls easily from the foil.

    From:  Rick Bayless Mexico: One Plate at a Time
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    Mexico: One Plate at a Time



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