Sometimes I like to challenge myself and try something new just to see if I can do it. This week I saw pork loins were on sale at Kroger super cheap, so I decided the challenge would be tamales. All I kept reading was how hard they were. Well, they really aren’t that hard. In fact, I found them quite easy. I was so proud of myself. As we were eating dinner, I told my husband, “I can’t believe I made tamales!” He thinks I’m nuts ;).
I did it over a 2 day period while I was doing other stuff, so it really wasn’t that intensive. Friday night while cooking dinner, I put the pork shoulder in the oven. Then, as I was catching up on my queue on Hulu, I steamed the ancho peppers and sat at the table and shredded the meat (I learned how to shred meat with two forks from The Pioneer Woman awhile back when I made her Dr. Pepper pork roast. It’s amazingly easy.) By midnight, the meat was mixed up with all the spices and was in the fridge, and I set the corn husks in the sink to soften in water, and then off to bed.
5 lb pork shoulder or butt
salt/roasted garlic seasoning
Preheat oven to 300. I seasoned with a salt/roasted garlic mix I found at Sam’s Club. Cook for two hours in a dutch oven dry. Then, add 4 cups of water to finish the process. When you finally pull it out, the meat should just fall off the bone.
Let cool. Save juice. Pull apart with 2 forks. Mash it a little or you can put it in the food processor. Add a little broth to keep moist.
Four ancho peppers. (This is the one picture I took of the entire tamale process because I’m an idiot. 0_o) Slice open and remove stems and seeds of ancho peppers. Boil then simmer for 10 minutes COVERED. Let them cool for about 30 minutes. Then, scrape pulp out and discard skin. The skin will be clear as you scrap pulp. Don’t forget to save ancho juice.
Saute together 1 tbs lard, shortening, or oil and 1 tbs minced garlic.
Add this sauted garlic, bit of pork juice, ancho pulp and
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tbs chili powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tbs garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
To meat and mix well. Allow to sit overnight in fridge.
Soak corn husks overnight.
On the next day, pull out the meat, pork juice and ancho pepper juice. Then, mix up the masa. My mom warned me to make sure there is enough salt in the dough or they’ll taste bad. I used a tablespoon of sea salt in mine, and they tasted perfect. This recipe below tasted just like any authentic tamales we’ve tasted.
In the mixer add:
3 cups Masa harina – maseca
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp cumin
1 tbs salt
Mix together and add a couple cups of broth (I used leftover pork drippings but you can use beef broth) and 1/2 cup of leftover ancho pepper juice. Add more broth and ancho pepper juice until your masa is the consistency of peanut butter. I just kept feeling it with my hands until it felt like peanut butter.
This link has great pictures for making the actual tamales. It’s what we used.
We used silicon cutting mats. We layed out a corn husk, then a ball of masa dough. Then, we would cover the masa to roll out with a large freezer ziplock bag. Our rolling pins were Tupperware cups.
My husband and I worked together for about an hour. We ended up with 3 dozen tamales. I did have to make a second batch of masa using beef broth and more ancho pepper juice I had left because I ran out of pork juice.
I was worried Nate would get annoyed with tamale making, but he actually enjoyed it. I think it was rather meditative for him. He experimented and by the time we finished he had created his perfect technique to make a tamale. We relaxed by listening to an episode of This American Life app while we worked. The kids were off playing, so it was kind of like a little date for us ;).
Once we finished the first dozen, I started them cooking in my double decker veggie steamer for dinner because it takes about. 60 minutes to cook them. Tamales are done when you can pull the tamale from the corn husk and the masa doesn’t stick.
Since I started cooking them early, we were able to finish all the tamale making, and I had a pot of pinto beans and Spanish rice ready just as the tamales finished steaming.
The rest of the tamales we put in freezer bags and froze for a couple more meals.
We had masa leftover since we ran out of meat, so we made about a dozen pinto bean tamales. I love to cook a pot of dry pintos. For those, I soak the beans overnight, then they cook for about an hour or two. I save up bacon drippings and freeze it whenever I cook bacon, and I put a spoonful of the drippings in the beans. It makes them irresistible! When I serve TexMex food for dinner, I usually smash the beans so they are more like refried beans. However, we used the beans whole in the tamales, and made them just like the meat ones.
And just like that, you can make about 3 dinners worth of tamales. Woohoo!!