Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Pork Tamales in corn husks (steamed)

I have taken 2 days to prep for these Tamales. I decided to divide the prepping time so I don't overwork myself in the kitchen.  I started the night before by bringing down the pork shoulder from the freezer to the fridge to thaw safely. 

* Note - You may use chicken, beef, seafood or even chopped veggies to fill the tamales. Some make these sweet by filling the corn dough with fruits and changing the spices for the dough with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Personally I never tried doing them as sweet dish. But might give try it someday.

Early the next morning prepping began.... 

Prepping the pork:

I chose to cook the pork shoulder in my slow cooker/crock pot, low and slow overnight. That way I didn't have to crank my oven and get my kitchen all hot. 

Day One

4 - 5 lb. Pork shoulder (washed)
A large slow cooker w/ lid
Saran Wrap

Dry ingredients:
1 tsp Oregano ground
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp Goya Adobo

Wet Ingredients:
2 tbsp Bitter orange
1 tbsp distilled vinegar


Preparing rub - in a small bowl add all the dry ingredients (oregano,cumin,black pepper,onion/garlic powder,and Goya Adobo) whisk to combine and set aside. 

Remove, discard skin and visible fat. Usually when making "pernil" / roast pork we leave the skin. But for this dish I removed it.  Leave a bit of fat because this will be used for the masa (cornmeal). 

Transfer pork onto a shallow dish and add all the dry ingredients and rub it all over pork shoulder. Cover with Saran Wrap and put in back into the fridge for the remainder of the day. 

At nights end, before heading to bed, take the pork shoulder removing the Saran wrap and place it in to the slow cooker adding all wet ingredients. Set the slow cooker on low and cover with lid. This pork shoulder will cook on low heat slowly for 8 hours. 
I must warn you the aroma might keep you and the neighbors up through the night. 

Day 2 

Check your pork shoulder. It should be so tender its fallen off the bone.  Transfer pork to a large skillet. Remove all liquid and oil (from the bottom of the slower  cooker) rendered from the pork and pour it in a jar with lid. Store this oil in the fridge so when cold it will separate and be easier to spoon out. You will need this when prepping the (masa) corn dough. See picture below:

This picture (above)  is of the rendered pork fat that we fridge earlier.  I get a little worried using lard, but making tamales it ask for oil, lard or Crisco vegetable shortening. 

I attached a little bit of reading here about LARD when you have the chance:

Now transfer the boneless pork to a large skillet and pull apart with two forks. You may cut into small cubes but I find pulling apart it's easier. 

You will need:

A large skillet
1 tbsp of Cholula original hot sauce
1 tbsp of Sazon Ranchero liquid seasoning

Add hot sauce and liquid seasoning 
Stir to blend. Turn heat off and set aside.


Fill a tea kettle or pot with water and bring to a boil. 
In the meantime, take a large bowl and place the separated corn husk and add the boil water on top of them for about an hour. This will help the husk soften up and be easier to manage when assembling the tamales. 

Next (Masa) Corn dough

A Kitchen Aid  stand mixer 
Kitchen aid ceramic beater
2 tbsp of the separated rendered pork oil (that you put in the fridge)

* Note - if you don't have a mixer you may do this by hand. Mixing it till the dough is sticky.

Prepping the (Masa) corn dough:

You will need:

2 1/2 cups of Masa flour
1 tsp cumin 
1 tsp chili powder
1 Goya chicken bouillon envelope 
1 tsp black pepper
1 heaping tbsp of rendered cold pork fat  
Hot water 

Add all these ingredients in to the mixer slowly adding hot water to from a sticky dough like so. 
Because I only used a tbsp of the pork rendered fat I used more hot water to get the Masa/corn dough to reach its sticky consistency. Next time I do these I will try using olive oil and see how they turn out.

Now it's times assemble the tamales. 

To steam tamales:

You will need:

Bamboo steamer
Large pot/saucepan 

Boil water in a large pot/saucepan and place. Make sure your bamboo steamer will fit well on top of the pot. 

Assembling Tamales

Take a heaping tablespoon of corn dough on the center of the husk. Spread the dough flat and evenly with the back of the spoon. Fork some pulled pork onto the center of the dough. Now fold in half so you have a top layer of corn dough, pulled pork in the center and corn dough on the bottom. Now fold in both ends of the husk and lay the tamale onto its fold.

Take another husk and tear strips to tie the tamale. You might have to tie two or three strips of husk strips to make them long enough. Now use a husk strip you tie shut the folded tamale like a little present. 

Place these tamales laying flat on the bamboo steamer (or steamer of choice). Continue this till you finish all the corn dough and pulled pork. You will steamed these tamales for a full hour. 

Check every now and then that there is still has water in the pot. After steaming all the tamales you may freeze the left overs. They stay good in the freezer for up to 6 weeks. To re-heat in the oven for 30 minutes or in a microwave defrost for 2 - 3 minutes with husk and all and then cook for another 2 - 3 minutes. Plate and served. Drizzle your favorite hot sauce. 


These served 15 -20 small/medium sized tamales.

Bon Apetit!

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