Maranda of Jolts & Jollies was our January 2012 Daring Cooks hostess with the mostess! Maranda challenged us to make traditional Mexican Tamales as our first challenge of the year!
I’ve never made tamales before, although I did have some amazing tamales last year. One of the mom’s on my sons’ football team made the team tamales to eat after the game. She made enough for the parents too and they were the best tamales I’d ever eaten, perfectly spiced with a good balance of masa and delicious pork filling.
Hoping to recreate her magic, in addition to the challenge recipe, I turned to friends who have been making tamales for years for advice. Bonnie advised me to be sure the masa is spreadable and to spread it thinly. The video they posted with the challenge helps show how to spread the masa.
I also searched Everyday Southwest for tips on making tamales. Donna did a post on substituting a Butter Canola Whipped Spread for lard in tamales. Since I was a little concerned about using lard this sounded like a perfect alternative.
A market not too far from my home, ¡Viva! Market has a large selection of products from Mexico, Central and South America, so I shopped there for my ingredients. I was going to buy a pork shoulder and cook the pork at home, but they had some mouth watering pork carnitas already roasted and ready to eat. I bought 2 lbs., which when shredded was the 4 cups I needed for the recipe. I also used the recipe on the masa harina mix I bought.
I was really pleased with how well my tamales turned out on my first try. I was generous with the filling so the ratio of filling to masa was about right and the butter/canola mix gave the masa a delicious, slightly buttery flavor. My filling was delicious as well, but really spicy. I think I should have removed the seeds and ribs from the serrano chilies. I added that in the recipe below.
If you haven’t tried making tamales at home, give it a try. They are a little time intensive but not difficult, and so much better than store bought tamales.
Green Chile Pork Tamales
- 1 –8 ounce 225 gram package dried corn husks (If you cannot find corn husks, you can use parchment paper)
- 1 pound tomatillos can sub mild green chilies—canned or fresh
- 4 –3 inch serrano chiles stemmed, seeded and chopped (can sub jalapeno)
- 4 large garlic cloves chopped
- 1 ½ tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 4 cups cooked and shredded pork carnitas
- ⅔ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup canola oil
- ¾ teaspoon salt omit if already in masa mixture
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder omit if already in masa mixture
- 3 cups masa harina corn tamale mix
- 3 cups sodium chicken broth
- Place the dried corn husks in a large pot and cover with water.
- Place a heavy plate or a smaller pot full of water on top of husks to keep them in the water. Let soak for 3 hours or up to 1 day, flipping occasionally until husks are softened.
- Place an oven rack on the top setting. Turn the oven on broil. Peel and rinse the tomatillos.
- Line a heavy baking sheet with foil. Place tomatillos on baking sheet and place under broiler.
- Broil (grill) until black spots form on tomatillos, then flip and broil (grill) other side. This takes about 5-10 minutes per side depending on the strength of the broiler.
- Place roasted tomatillos and juices from the pan into a food processor and allow to cool about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chopped Serrano chiles and process until smooth.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat.
- Add the tomatillo puree and boil, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes (it should turn thick like a paste).
- Add in the chicken broth, stir to mix well. Reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until mixture coats the back of a spoon and is reduced to about a cup.
- Stir in the shredded pork and cilantro. Salt to taste.
- Prepare the dough. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and canola oil until it’s white and creamy.
- In a separate bowl mix the masa harina, baking powder and salt. Add masa mixture to whipped butter and canola one cup at a time.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low, gradually add the chicken broth. Add more or less as necessary until it has the consistence of soft cream cheese.
- Take 3 large corn husks and tear them into ¼ inch strips. (Put these back in the water until ready to use because they dry out and start breaking when you try to work with them.
- Take a large pot with a steamer attachment. Pour about 2 inches of water into the bottom of the pot, or enough to touch the bottom of the steamer. Line the bottom of the steamer with corn husks.
- Unfold 2 corn husks onto a work surface. Take ¼ cup of dough and, starting near the top of the husk, press it out into a 4 inch square, leaving 2-3 inches at the bottom of the husk. Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling in a line down the center of the dough square.
- Fold the dough into the corn husk. And wrap the husk around the dough. Fold up the skinny bottom part of the husk. And secure it with one of the corn husk ties.
- Stand them up in the steamer. If there aren’t enough tamales to tightly pack the steamer, place crumpled aluminum foil in the excess space.
- Steam the tamales for about 40 minutes or until the dough deepens in color and easily pulls away from the husk.
Visit the Daring Kitchen for information on joining the Daring Cooks and to see all the great tamales the Daring Cooks cooked up this month. Thanks Maranda for a terrific challenge.
I love the idea of using pre-made carnitas. I love Viva markets. And I think I would really like substituting something else for the lard. I am going to try your recipe. They really do look delciious.
Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious
This is something I haven’t tried at home – but I love eating them whenever I can get my hands on them 🙂 Yours look perfect!
Oh, wow – your tamales look delicious, and that dough looks like it came out PERFECTLY. Amazing work.
Alison @ Ingredients, Inc
These look SO amazing! I have never made tamales but I’ll try these for sure. Hope to see you in Salt Lake next week. Fingers crossed
These look great! Lucky you, to have someone to give you some tips on the best way to assemble them. 🙂
Your tamales look wonderful and sound like they tasted just as good. Great job!
Barbara | Creative Culinary
I have a local friend whose family spends a day making tamales a couple of times during the year, she just told me yesterday there are some in the fridge for me. Once you have homemade tamales, nothing else delivers.
We have some great tamale stands in Denver; none of them are close to me though but a trip out for two dozen is worth it…now you have me thinking I should make some. Yum.
Fabulous idea with the lard substitute. I want to try that next. I also used carnitas in mine, had enough saved in the freezer.
All these delicious pork fillings I am seeing are making me want to get back in the kitchen to whip up another batch! Fantastic job as always Barbara!
Looks like some wonderful tamales! This was my first time and I had a great time. I will remember some of your suggestions for next time. Come see mine at http://www.willcookforsmiles.com/2012/01/daring-kitchen-pork-tamales.html
Joli blog, Jolis Photos, and Delicious Recipes 🙂
Bravo, your tamales look so delicious !
Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie)
These look amazing. I can almost taste them! And your picture is very nice.
How lucky you are to have a market close by and how smart to buy the pork, what a time saver. Your photo is gorgeous.
These look fantastic – great job
I don’t think I’ve ever eaten authentic tamales, but I’m sure I’d love them. I love spice, Mexican and Southwest cooking. Its good you were able to get so much expert advice. It looks like your were a huge success! I would’ve loved to try yours, as the pictures you took are super and make my mouth water!!!!
Ashley @ Kitchen Meets Girl
I’ve never made my own tamales, but these look great. My grandmother’s neighbors made the best tamales and I always feared mine wouldn’t measure up! But I’m going to have to give your recipe a try–yum!
I love tamales though I’ve never made them myself, it always seemed to daunting of a task. I love that you made them, they look wonderful!
sue @ Cakeballs, cookies and more
You know I have never had one, and I have always wanted to try them. I would need the wimpy version though, no spice. I cry with even the littlest bit of heat. Hubby laughs at me, as he pours hot sauce on everything he eats. These look really good!
I’ve been wanting to attempt tamales forever and I never seem to bite the bullet and just do it. I hope I get around to it sooner than later 🙂
Yours look terrific. I can’t even imagine how delicious they were stuffed with carnitas.
Wonderful! That is something I haven’t tried yet…