This Cinco de Mayo, Grab Some Friends and Make TAMALES!!!

 

Kansas Farm Bureau has a great group of young members who could crank out some tamales in no time! Learn how you can benefit from being a KFB member at www.kfb.org!

Cinco de Mayo is coming tomorrow, and there is no better way to celebrate and savor the season than with a traditional Mexican dish- TAMALES! While the cooking and assembling and wrapping and steaming may seem overwhelming at first, I’ve got some tricks to help you make this delicious favorite in your own kitchen any time of year. (and with R2D2 helping out, you can make it in a fraction of the time!) So grab a few good friends and your favorite Mexican cocktail- It’s TAMALE time!!

Pork Tamales Rojos

Rojos is the Spanish word for “red” and in this recipe, you’ll be flavoring the masa mixture with some of the red chili blend that is part of the pork filling, making for an extra-flavorful tamale as a finished product – these are so dang delicious!  Be sure to make some salsa fresca to serve with your tamales, as well as the Chipotle Crema.

Yield: Approximately 30 tamales

Pork Filling

olive oil, for browning onion
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
½ cup Hatch chili powder
2 cups homemade chicken broth
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 Tbs. cumin
1 tsp. oregano flakes
8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), fat trimmed somewhat, cut into 3” chunks
kosher salt, for seasoning pork
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs. cider vinegar

Masa

3¾ cups instant corn masa flour
2 cups chicken broth
1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons lard, melted, plus more if needed
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1½ tsp. baking powder

30 corn husks (from a 1-pound bag)
3 cups chicken broth, plus more
Fresh salsa and lime wedges (for serving)

To Make Pork Filling – Oven Method

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Heat oil in a large heatproof Dutch oven over medium-high. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, 8–10 minutes. Add chili powder, coriander, cumin, oregano, and garlic, stirring to combine with onions; cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring, until spices are very fragrant; add  2 cups broth and bring to a simmer; remove from heat. Transfer chili/onion mixture to a food processor; process until smooth.

Season pork shoulder chunks with salt. In same Dutch oven over medium high heat, add bit of oil to drippings; when oil is hot add seasoned pork and brown off on all sides, working in batches, as needed.  Return all browned pork to pot; add bay leaf, vinegar, and 1 ½ cups chile purée (reserve 1/2 cup purée for masa); bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven. Braise pork until very fork-tender and shreds easily, 2 – 2 1/2 hours. Let pork cool a bit, then remove pork and skim excess fat from sauce;  discard bay leaf. (If you happen to be doubling this recipe and are cooking a bigger pork butt, adjust cooking time accordingly.  Pork should be super fork-tender!)  Shred pork and place into a large bowl; add enough sauce back into meat to create a moist filling.  Refrigerate, reserving any sauce that isn’t used in case it’s needed to moisten the pork or to be used in creating the masa.  Filling can be made 3 days ahead; keep chilled.

To Make Pork Filling – Pressure Cooker Method

Heat oil in a pressure cooker pot set on sauté setting; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, 8–10 minutes. Add chili powder, coriander, cumin, oregano, and garlic, stirring to combine with onions; cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring, until spices are very fragrant; add 2 cups broth and bring to a simmer; remove from heat. Transfer chili/onion mixture to a food processor; process until smooth.

Season pork shoulder chunks with salt. Add bit of oil to drippings in the pressure cooker pot; when oil is hot add seasoned pork and brown off on all sides, working in batches, as needed.  Return all browned pork to pressure cooker pot; add bay leaf, vinegar, and 1 ½ cups chile purée (reserve 1/2 cup purée for masa); bring to a boil.  Lock pressure cooker lid into place and choose High Pressure Setting for 45 minutes.  When timer sounds, use a natural release until all pressure is released from pressure cooker.  When pressure is fully released, remove pressure cooker lid and check pork. Pork should be very fork-tender and should shred easily. Let pork cool a bit, then remove pork and skim excess fat from sauce; discard bay leaf. Shred pork and place into a large bowl; add enough sauce back into meat to create a moist filling.  Refrigerate, reserving any sauce that isn’t used in case it’s needed to moisten the pork later or to be used in creating the masa.  Filling can be made 3 days ahead; keep chilled.

To Make The Masa

Mix corn masa flour, stock, lard, salt, baking powder, and ¼ cup reserved chile purée in a large bowl with your hands until dough comes together. Continue to knead until mixture looks smooth and shiny, about 4 minutes. Let dough sit 30 minutes, uncovered, until the consistency of peanut butter; it will thicken as it sits, requiring a bit of broth be added as you go along, so that masa can be more easily spread when assembling tamales.

Tamale Assembly

Even the smallest cowboy will enjoy helping with tamale assembly!

Soak husks in a large bowl of hot water until soft and pliable, about 15 minutes. Using your hands, swirl husks in water to loosen any silk and dirt clinging to surface. Drain, rinse, and shake off excess water.

Working one at a time, place husk on a clean work surface and gently stretch out. Measure approx. 5″ wide, then tear off any excess, reserving the scraps.  (The width doesn’t have to be exactly 5″, but if you go narrower than that, your tamale might be too small to cover the filling.) Keep extra husks on hand in case some of your husks tear when assembling tamales. Tear scraps into thin strips to use for tying tamales at each end.

Spoon 2-3 heaping tablespoons of masa onto the husk; spread masa into even layer about ¼” thick, covering width of husk and going about 5″ up the sides, leaving the ends uncovered. (If you mess up, just scrape masa off the husk and start over….no one will ever know!).

Place approx. 2 tablespoons cold pork filling down the center of masa; fold 1 side of husk over filling, then fold other side over to cover; tie up the top and bottom of each tamale using torn corn husk strips.  Transfer tamales to a rimmed baking sheet; repeat with remaining tamales until all filling and masa is gone.

To Steam Tamales – Stovetop Method in a Large Pot

Crumple a large sheet of foil to form a 3″-diameter ball; place into pot, propping tamales upright, seam-side towards the center, all the way around, using 4-6 tamales. Continue stacking tamales around the center, leaning them against one another. Pour 3 cups broth into pot, being careful not to get any inside tamales (broth will come about ¾” up sides of tamales).

Bring liquid to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover pot and simmer tamales, undisturbed, adding more broth as needed to keep some liquid in the pot, 40 minutes. Remove 1 tamale and let cool about 3 minutes. (If you don’t let the tamale rest before checking, the masa is guaranteed to stick to the husk and appear gummy, so you really have to wait.) Remove husk; if masa sticks to husk, it’s not ready. Carefully re-fold tamale and return to pot. Cook 5 minutes longer, then check again. If husk is easily removed, your tamales are fully cooked.  Remove from heat and let tamales rest in pot, uncovered for 5 minutes.

To Steam Tamales  –  Electric Pressure Cooker Method

Place trivet into bottom of pressure cooker pot; add 1 cup chicken broth.  Place prepared tamales into pot, leaving a bit of space in between each one, stacking up layers as you go, filling pot about 2/3 full.  Lock pressure cooker lid into place and choose High Setting for 20 minutes.  When timer sounds, perform a quick release and remove lid; Remove 1 tamale and let cool about 3 minutes. (If you don’t let the tamale rest before checking, the masa is guaranteed to stick to the husk and appear gummy, so you really have to wait.) Remove husk; if masa sticks to husk, it’s not ready. Carefully re-fold and return to pressure cooker pot; lock lid into place and choose High setting for 1 minute. When timer sounds, perform a quick release and check tamale again. If husk is easily removed, your tamales are fully cooked! Let tamales rest in pressure cooker pot, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes.

Serve tamales with fresh salsa and a squeeze of lime, as desired, or with Chipotle Crema, recipe below.

Chipotle Crema

½ cup mayonnaise (I like Hellman’s)
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup Ranch dressing
1-2 tsp. minced chipotle sauce, or to taste
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; chill.  Serve as a topping for tamales or other favorite Mexican foods.

Tamale Tidbits

  • Assembling tamales is a great project for a group of friends, and you can actually create a lot of tamales once your assembly line is organized. Assign a couple of people to spread masa on soaked corn husks, a couple of people to add the filling, and the final couple of folks can tie off the tamales and place them into the steamer.
  • Tamales freeze well. You can cook them first, cool them and then freeze the tamales, OR you can freeze them to cook later, from frozen.
  • Once you’ve cooked your pork, always reserve some of the cooking juices to flavor your masa.
  • When you are assembling tamales, be sure your filling is chilled or at least at room temperature, not WARM. Warm filling is too oozy and tends to wander all over your masa, making the rolling and tying of your tamales a mess.

Now You’re Cookin’,
Chef Alli

Get more great recipes at www.kansaslivingmagazine.com!

**This recipe was featured as part of Chef Alli’s Farm Fresh Kitchen on WIBW 13 News, May 2017. Special thanks to the farmers and ranchers of the Kansas Farm Bureau for making this segment possible! For more information on the events shared in this segment, visit www.kfb.org!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. It may also contain “affiliate links”. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s