Roasted Pork Tamales

Making Tamales takes a long time, but it’s really not as hard as you think. Or maybe you don’t think. Maybe you don’t even know what a tamale is? That’s okay, I’ll tell you. It’s a delicious pocket of corn maize, wrapped in corn husk and usually filled with some kind of meat and cheese.

I’ve never made them before, until now. My darling mother sent me a tamale-making kit and it kept staring back at me every time I went to grab shitakes from the pantry. So, on a gruesomely humid Friday, I blasted the air conditioning and slow roasted some pork but. I was skeptical about the instant tamale package, but I didn’t really feel like making them from scratch. I was also skeptical of the strange preservative smell from the corn husks, but that certainly didn’t come through in the flavors. This recipe takes a while. The pork has to cook for at least an hour and the tamales steam for an hour. But other than that…it’s just some chopping and filling. These were truly amazing, one of the best things I’ve ever made. Then again, I have been on fire lately.

Since it will take you close to 3 hours from start to finish, I suggest making these the day before you’re going to eat them. And they freeze extremely well. Just store them in the fridge and then heat them up in a pot with some steam for 10 minutes to serve at your fiesta.

For the pork, use a small pot, a dutch oven or le cruset would be best, but a sauce pan would work well. Basically, you want to use as little water as possible to get the most flavour. I just mis-typed “pork” as “port” and that got me thinking. Replacing ½ of the water with red wine would lead to potentially insane flavour. Like Mexican Pork Bourguignon?

Roasted Pork Tamales

You will need:

Salsa Verde (to serve-and Trader Joe’s has the best one)

Melissa’s tamale kit which includes husks and instant maize http://www.amazon.com/Melissas-Tamale-Kit-kits-Tamales/dp/B0000EIEIU

For the filling:

2 lbs of pork butt – get the good stuff with less fat at Whole Foods

4 large dried red chillies – preferable New Mexican and ripped into small-ish pieces, seeds and stems removed

2 plum tomatoes –chopped

5 cloves of garlic – chopped

Enough water to cover the meat in the pot by ½ inch

½ tsp chilli powder

2 tbs olive oil

1 tbs cumin

1.      Pour the olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper  on the bottom of the pot. Place the pork on top of it and add all the other ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer on very low heat for about an hour. When it’s done it should be really soft. Take two forks and shred the meat, discarding fat. Save the remaining sauce in the pan.

2.       Mix the instant maize with the correct amount of water in a bowl, let stand for a few minutes and mix again. Lay out the corn husks (reserving one to use as string) and put about 2 tbs of the corn mixture on each one in a small rectangle. Then put about 1 tbs of the pork mixture and a tsp of the reserved sauce. Fold over the sides of the husk and then the bottom. Tie with a strand of corn husk or kitchen twine if you have it.

3.       In a large pot, boil 2 inches of water under a steamer basket. Steam the tamales (checking the water level and replacing every 20 minutes or so) for about 55 minutes. Serve right away with salsa verde or refrigerate or freeze. To reheat, just boil another inch of water and steam for 10 minutes. They freeze very well.

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