What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Pork Tamales! I have high respect for the Mexican culture, especially when it comes to cooking. For years I have procrastinated about making tamales, probably because I love them and really don’t want that to change. Seriously though, for me the Mexican homemade version is labor intensive. Most little girls were taught the family traditions by their mothers and grannies. To them it comes easily as an art form after decades of making the traditional dish. Sauces from scratch can take an entire day if you begin with boiling the chilies and blending the spices. I left that labor of love for the pros. Now if you’re game, roll up your sleeves, tie on an apron, and let’s get started.
Ingredient Toppings for Tamales:
Green onions, sliced
Lime wedge, for garnish
Ingredients for Corn Husks:
6-ounce package dried corn husks
Soak corn husks in hot water for one hour or until softened. Drain husks; pat dry. Set aside.
Ingredients for Cornmeal Dough:
1 1/4 cups solid shortening
4 cups corn masa mix
1 3/4 cups warm chicken broth
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons paprika
Instructions for Cornmeal Dough:
In a large bowl, beat solid shortening on medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy, about 3 minutes. In another bowl, stir corn masa mix, chicken broth, salt, and paprika until combined. Gradually add corn masa mixture to shortening, beating on medium speed just until blended after each addition. Cover dough with plastic wrap until ready to use. Set aside.
Ingredients for Pork Filling:
2 cups fully cooked roast pork, shredded
10-ounce can mild diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
Instructions for Pork Filling:
In a bowl, combine shredded pork, diced tomatoes and green chilies, barbecue sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, red pepper flakes, and salt. Stir until well blended. Set aside.
Ingredients for Tamale Sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups unsalted beef broth
2 tablespoons adobo sauce from chipotles in adobo
2 teaspoons taco seasoning
Instructions for Tamale Sauce:
In a skillet over medium heat, warm unsalted butter. Do not scorch. Sprinkle in flour, whisking until a paste is formed. Stir 2 minutes longer. Gradually add beef broth, stirring constantly. Allow mixture to slightly thicken, about 5 minutes. Add adobo sauce and taco seasoning. Stir until combined. Set aside. Serve warm over tamales.
Instructions for Assembling Tamales:
Spread about 3 tablespoons of Cornmeal Dough into a 3”x3 1/2” rectangle in center of one corn husk. Spoon one heaping tablespoon of meat filling down the center of the Cornmeal Dough rectangle. Fold long side of husk over, enclosing meat filling with Cornmeal Dough. Fold bottom of husk over folded sides, leaving top end open. Tie with strips of corn husk or bakery twine. Transfer to a platter. Repeat with remaining ingredients. In a 16-quart tamale steamer pot, fill water to about 1/2” from the bottom of the rack. Stand tamales above the water level, closed end down, on rack in steamer.* Cover the tamales with leftover husks and a clean cloth before placing the lid on the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and steam over medium heat for two hours until masa is no longer doughy. Add water as necessary. Take one tamale from the middle to check it is done before turning pot off. When done, allow tamales to cool for 10 minutes to set properly. To serve, transfer tamales to a platter. Unwrap a tamale, ladle on the sauce, and top with diced tomatoes, green onion slices, and chopped lettuce. Garnish with lime wedge. Serve immediately.
*In order to keep the tamales upright, put a heat-proof cup, bottom up, in the middle of the rack. It will help the tamales to balance upright.