Saturday, June 16, 2012


  • 600g pork roast
  • 2 onions (cut in half length-wise)
  • 4 cloves garlic, whole
  • 2-4 Tblsp. ancho chili powder (to taste)
  • ground cumin (also to taste)


  • 3 cups masa harina for tortillas (e.g. Maseca)
  • 3/4 cup lard
  • ~2 1/2 cups pork broth (reserved from making the filling)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • ancho chili powder
Day 1:
Put pork roast into a pan with onion and garlic and cover with water (be sure to use plenty of water because you will need it for preparing the masa later. Having a little left over is OK, too--it can be used to make beans.). Lightly salt the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for >2 hours--until pork can be easily pulled apart with a fork. Remove and shred pork. Remove garlic cloves, smash with a fork and mix with pork. Reserve broth. Discard onions (onions can also be blended and added back to the broth, but we don't have a blender so this isn't an option). Mix pork with chili powder and cumin to taste. Keep in refrigerator overnight.
Soak corn husks in water overnight. You will need ~24 of medium size for the tamales plus several to line the bottom and the top of the steamer insert while cooking the tamales (the latter can be of a more dubious quality, i.e. very large or small or have tears in them).
Day 2:
Masa: mix masa harina, baking powder, salt, and enough chili powder to turn mixture pink. Cut lard into masa harina mixture using fingertips. Add enough of the pork broth from day 1 to give the masa a spreadable consistency (~2.5 cups, considerably more or less depending on how damp your masa harina is).
Assembling the tamales: with the pointed end toward you, spread a thin (1/8"-1/4") layer on the ~2/3 of the corn husk furthest from you (the broad end), also leaving a narrow strip (~1/4") free on the left and right sides of the corn husk. Place a line of meat down the center of the masa-lined husk, fold the left 1/3 over the filling, then fold the right 1/3 over, and finish by folding the empty portion of the husk (the pointy end) up over the filled portion. (This sounds really complicated, but there are lots of videos on YouTube demonstrating this technique.) Place the tamal on a plate with the folded side down to keep it from unfolding and move on to the next tamal.
Cooking the tamales: use a pot with a steamer insert that is large enough to fit the tamales standing on their ends. We used a large IKEA pot with the pasta insert. Fill the bottom of the pot with enough water that it doesn't come through the bottom of the steamer insert. Line the bottom of the insert with corn husks. Place the tamales in the pot, standing on their ends, open end up (if your pot is too big enough or, more likely, you have too few tamales, there are other methods of stacking the tamales so that you won't lose the filling on the internet). Line the top of the insert with more corn husks. Finally, place a damp kitchen towel on top and cover with a lid. Steam the tamales over medium-high heat, adding water when necessary, until the masa easily comes away from the corn husk, around 1 hour and 15 minutes.
This recipe is a combination of the recipes here (mostly for making the masa from mara harina for tortillas) and here (mostly for the filling). Both links contain a number of helpful photos and tips.
Makes: ~24

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