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Click here to go back to Tamales Day One

Final Tamale ready to eat!

The Tamales are made! I was kind of dreading the assembly, so I put it off until this morning, but this was actually the fun part. I pulled in Chris to help with the assembly, so it went by pretty quickly (we made 27 tamales in about 30 minutes). I spread out the masa on the corn husks, and Chris added the filling and rolled them up.

Here’s a video of Chris showing you how to assemble the tamale:

I was a little shocked at how quickly we went through both the masa and filling–I was hoping to make at least 3-4 dozen, and we barely went over two. The recipe below is adjusted from what I did to give you a larger yield–because if you’re going to go through the trouble to make your own tamales, you definitely want to end up with way too many than not enough. Luckily, 27 should just get us through the party we’re throwing next weekend.

Christmas Tamales
– Chilies, masa, and corn husks can all be found at an ethnic grocery store.
– I doubled the filling recipe to bring the yield up to around 50, but you can also consider making two varieties of tamales.

Pulled Pork Filling
Original recipe
6 lb. Pork Shoulder, trimmed of most fat
Water–enough to cover meat, plus 3″
2 medium onions, quartered
6 garlic gloves, peeled
6 sprigs cilantro
2 T. salt

  1. Trim fat from pork shoulder, chop into fist-sized pieces and place in a large dutch oven. Add enough water to cover meat, plus 2-3 inches. Add in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Skim off fat every few minutes until stock is clear.
  2. Once at a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 2.4-3 hours, until meat is tender and cooked through. Remove meat and discard onions, garlic, and cilantro. Strain broth into a separate container, and allow to cool.
  3. Using two forks, shred the pork and set aside for chili paste.

Sauce Filling
From Martha Stewart Living
6 plum tomatoes, halfed lengthwise
8 dried New Mexico and/or ancho chilies
1 c. broth, reserved from above
2 chipotle chlies (in adobo sauce) one can will have a few whole chilies, just pull out two.
1/2 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, diced
1/4 c. cilantro leaves
2 T. lard or veggie shortening
Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. As the pork is cooking, half the tomatoes and preheat your broiler. Broil on a cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes, flipping once, until skin is starting to blacken. Place aside.
  2. De-seed and de-vein the dried chilies. Heat chilies in a skillet 1-2 minutes until you can smell their aroma. Pour in enough hot water to cover chilies, and let soak for 10 minutes. Drain water and set aside.
  3. In food processor or blender (I used an emulsion blender, but it got messy) puree chilies with 1 c. of reserved pork broth until smooth. Add in tomatoes and remaining ingredients (not lard or seasonings) and puree until smooth.
  4. In large skillet, heat the lard on a medium-high heat and add in the chili paste and cook 5-7 minutes until thick. Season with salt/pepper. Add in shredded pork, and cook an additional 15 minutes until meat is tender.

Masa Dough
From Homesick Texan
2 c. lard or vegetable shortening
8 c. masa harina
4 c. broth, reserved from above
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
2-3 t. salt

  1. Beat lard with mixer until fluffy. Add in cayenne, salt, 2 c. masa harina,  and 1 c. broth and beat until smooth. Continue adding remaining masa and broth until final dough is soft, but still holding it’s shape. Refrigerate at least one hour.

I split up the tamale making into two days, as this first part took the most of an evening. If you get an early start, this can be a one day process, but splitting up the work was a nice way to not be overwhelmed by too much cooking.

Tamale Assembly
1 large bag dried corn husks (at least 50–but you will want to pick out the larger ones)
A flicker slide show of the steps: http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

  1. Cover the corn husks in water (holding down with weight) and let soak for at least 1 hour. As you assemble the tamales, look for wider, taller husks to use. Drain tamale husks and pat each one dry with a towel before using.
  2. With the wide end of the tamale facing you, take about 1/4 c. of the masa dough and spread it over the lower right corner of the corn husk. You should leave around 2-3″ at the short end, and 2-3″ at one wide end. Make sure the dough covers the edge of that corner.
  3. Taking 1 T. of filling, spread out lengthwise in the center of the masa.
  4. To Roll the tamale, take the masa-side of the tamale and roll over to meet the other masa edge (that is in the center of the husk). Tuck in that side under the dough slightly, fold the top, short-end of the tamale over, and finish rolling the tamale up like a cigar.
  5. In a large colander (that will fit into a steamer) begin stacking the tamales vertically with the fold-side down. Once you have them all packed in tight, fill the base with 2-3″ of water and steam tamales for around 2 hours. You will need to keep an eye on the tamales and add in water as needed. You will know they are done when the husk rolls cleanly away from the tamale.
  6. Refrigerate for a few days, or freeze for up to a month.