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Handmade Authentic Tamales

Tender, flavorful Handmade Authentic Tamales filled with red chili shredded pork or vegetarian poblano cheese.
Prep Time3 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 20

Ingredients

Red Chili Pork Filling

  • 3 lb. pork butt / picnic / shoulder roast
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp. lard
  • 1/2 yellow onion rough sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic rough chopped
  • 2 cubes Knorr tomato chicken bouillon smashed
  • 6 cups water

Red Chili Sauce

  • 8 guajillo chili peppers dried
  • 4 chili de arbol pepper dried
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp. lard
  • 2-3 cups reserved cooking liquid from pork

Masa

  • 3 1/2 cups masa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup lard
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. chipotle powder
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • reserved cooking liquid from pork

Poblano Jack Filling

  • 8 poblano peppers prepared (see notes)
  • 8 Monterrey Jack cheese sticks cut in half

Other

  • 1 package corn husks separated and soaked in warm water

Instructions

Red Chili Pork Filling

  • Combine chili powder, chipotle powder, cumin and salt. Rub all over pork roast.
  • Heat lard in a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Sear all sides of seasoned pork roast.
  • Add remaining ingredients to pot, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until fork tender about 3 hours.
  • Remove pork roast from pot, place on large dish and shred. Reserve all of the cooking liquid from pot to use in recipe.

Red Chili Sauce

  • Place a dry sauté pan over medium high heat. Add dried guajillo and chili de arbol peppers. Toast until fragrant, just a couple minutes, being very careful not to burn. If burnt, they will taste horribly bitter and you will have to re-do.
  • Remove chilies to a bowl and cover with 2-3 cups reserved cooking liquid. Soak for about 10 minutes until softened.
  • Put soaked chilies, cooking liquid, garlic and cumin in blender and blend until smooth.
  • Melt lard in a pan over medium high heat. Pour blended sauce in hot pan with lard and simmer until darkened about 15 minutes.
  • Combine red chili sauce with shredded pork in a large bowl. Add a little more cooking liquid, if needed to make saucy.

Masa

  • Combine masa, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  • Cream lard and butter together, them mix in with masa.
  • Slowly add reserved cooking liquid until dough forms. You want a pretty wet dough because it needs to easily spread on the corn husks. Then, mix, mix, mix, with your hand until very smooth. You want all the masa granules gone. It really takes a lot of mixing.

Poblano Jack Filling

  • Prepare poblano peppers by placing on a sheet pan, broiling until charred, removing from oven, placing in a covered dish to steam for a few minutes, then removing from dish and peeling off the skin and removing the stem and seeds. Cut each pepper in half.
  • Place one half of each Monterey Jack cheese stick on one half of prepared poblano.

Assembling the Tamales

  • Prepare your tamale steamer or large over sized pot with steamer rack in the bottom. Fill about 1/4 of pot with water, to just under steamer rack. Add a sheet of foil over steamer rack to protect from water.
  • Prepare your work area by setting a stack of soaked corn husks, a stack of torn pieces from the corn husks (used to tie finished tamal), your bowl of red chili pork or poblano jack filling and the bowl of prepared masa.
  • Place a corn husk in your hand with wide end towards you. Spread a scoop of masa over corn husk, reaching to edges, but only 3/4 of the way up towards smaller end. You want a thin layer. This masa will expand when steamed. If the masa is not spreading easily and not sticking to the corn husk, you may need to add more cooking liquid.
  • Once, you have a nice, thin layer of masa, add about a 1/4 cup of red chili pork to the center
  • OR if using the poblano jack filling, place one half poblano with one half Monterrey Jack cheese stick in the center.
  • Fold the sides in and the bottom up. Tie with a strip of corn husk. Not too tight, just enough to secure. Set open end up in steamer pot. Continue with remaining ingredients until it's all used up.
  • Place steamer pot on burner. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and steam for about 45 minutes. Remove and let cool for about 10 minutes. This allows the masa to firm up. They are now ready to eat, just don't eat the corn husk!
  • You can store tamales in Ziplock bags in the freezer for about 6 months.