Classic Red Chili Pork Tamales
Preparation: While tamales take time to make, the result is worth the extra effort. The nice thing about making tamales is that you can break up the steps, stop and pick it back up the next day. I spent 2 days making these tamales, but you could easily stretch the process over 3-4 days. 1. The Husks. I soaked the corn husks overnight, making sure they were completely submerged. You want to make sure you soak them for at least 3 hours. 2. The Filling. While it is possible to purchase your own chili sauce, making it by hand is fairly easy. First, roast any peppers you want to add to your sauce. I roasted 2 poblanos under the broiler in the oven for 5-6 minutes on each side. Remove the skin and seeds from the peppers and the canned chipotle peppers with the sauce, the cumin, lime juice, orange juice, brown sugar, tomatillos (without the husk), garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper to a blender and mixed until smooth. Cube the pork and let marinate in the sauce for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Roast in a covered, oven-safe container for 2.5 hours at 275°F. Let cool for at least 30 minutes and then shred. To speed up production time, I added the cooked pork to a food processor and roughly chopped it all up instead of shredding it. 3. The Masa. Many Hispanic grocery stores around Arizona will have premade masa available for purchase. Especially around the holidays. One pound of masa usually makes about 6 tamales. To make your own, start by mixing your masa flour with 3-5 cups of hot water. Add the water a cup at a time, stopping when the dough sticks together but is still sort of crumbly. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Next whip the lard or shortening in a stand mixer for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the baking powder and a few teaspoons of salt and mix until combined. Next, add the masa dough to the whipped lard in thirds until well combined. After, add in 1 cup of hot chicken broth to the mixture at a time until the mixture is light, creamy, fluffy and sticky (not crumbly). This will help the dough stick to the mixture. 4. Putting it all together. Once you have prepped all your ingredients, it is time to build your tamales. Start with a pre-soaked husk that has been strained of the extra water. Sort of spackle on a layer of masa dough onto the bottom half of the husk (the fat side), lay down a row of filling right down the middle, wrap the edges around the filling, fold the other half over itself, and secure with a tie made from stringed husk or twine. The process takes a bit of time to get used to, but if you include members of your family it will expedite the process. 5. Steam them! In a large double-boiler pot with just enough water to touch the bottom of the steam insert, place your tamales upright in it and cover with a few empty corn husks before placing a lid on top. Steam them for 3 hours, or until the masa peels easily away from the husk. Let sit to cool for at least 15 minutes before digging in.