Where do I begin with these little corn husk wrapped packages stuffed with masa harina and pork?
I could begin the same way I want to begin every blog post… “Ya’ll these _____ are amazing. They will make your belly VERY happy.
They will make whomever you feed these to automatically start to stalk you and want to be your best friend. They are so good they will make you forget anyone else is in the room because you will be too busy having a serious case of the “yuuummmmmm….mmmmmmmmmm” sound going on in your head.
But, I can’t say that to every post. Can I? I suppose I could, but you would find me very boring. And while I may be blonde, I DO have a mind… an overactive, overly curious, Energizer bunny status one at that. So, while all of the above is true about these, and will be true about everything I post here at No Spoon Necessary, I will have to start my posts with something else.
There are a million and one different, “authentic” recipes that can be found on the Web. And I am sure 9 out of 10 produce quiet delightful tamales. While researching exactly how I wanted to form my masa harina mixture I was almost shocked to see how people can take the same few ingredients, change the proportions, change the filling, change the method and yet still all produce very similar outcomes. We made tamales in culinary school… and I still have that recipe. I just didn’t find it all that mind-blowing. So I took snippets of everything I liked in a TON of different recipes, combined them all in a spreadsheet. Compared. Contrasted. Tweaked. Compared again. Tweaked again. Made the recipe, tested it. Tweaked the recipe for a third time. Made them again to test their flavor. Made a few more minor seasoning tweaks. Now I’m finally posting it here.
I’m not going to claim they are authentic. I don’t have a grandmother who would make these at every family gathering while I sat on a stool in the kitchen watching her every move as young child. I do have a grandmother, who is fan-tabulous by the way, but tamales were not her specialty.
However, while these maybe not be ‘quote on quote’ authentic, I will be bold enough to say they are pretty darn good. Boy ate them for lunch and dinner 3 days straight. By the third day I thought he might start to grow a thick ‘stache and walk in the front door from work with maracas singing “La Cucaracha!”.
Point being, they are Very Very GOOD! Really, how can you go wrong with anything you put so much love (and fat) into. They are not the quickest little packages to prepare, however, if you have the time, they are well worth your while. Two little tidbits of advice I will give:
1. This will not be so time consuming if you use leftover Pulled Pork or if you just plan ahead and make a batch of your favorite pulled pork on day one.2. Day two, make the masa dough and find a friend to help join you in the kitchen to fold and form the tamales. Put on some good music, grab a beer, pour yourself a glass of wine, do whatever you do like to do while you are cooking. It will most definitely make you enjoy the process.Give these a try and let me know how it goes. No Spoon Necessary loves feedback.
Pulled Pork Tamales
- 1 # 1 oz. (by weight) Masa Harina (Fine Yellow Corn Meal)
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- ½ tsp Salt
- 3/4 th Cup Vegetable Shortening , Lard, or Combination of both – Room Temperature
- 3 Cups Beef Stock - divided
- 1 (5 oz. package or about 20-30 ea.) Dried Corn Husks
- 1 # Pulled Pork
- 1 ½ tsp Cumin
- 3-4 Chipotle Chiles in Adobo – minced , and combined with 2 TBS of the Adobo Sauce
- Pinch of Sugar
- Salt and Pepper – To taste
- 8 oz Queso Fresco – Crumbled (plus more for serving, optional)
- Tomatillo Grilled Green Chile Pepper Sauce – for serving
- Fresh Cilantro – chopped , for garnish and serving (optional)
- In a Large plastic liquid measuring cup, heat 1 Cup of Beef Stock in the microwave to 150 degrees F. – anywhere between 140-160 degrees and you will be fine… just aim for 150 degrees. About 1 ½-2 minutes in your microwave).
- Add the Masa Harina to the (1 cup) HOT Beef Stock; stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 45 minutes (alternatively you can refrigerate it, covered, overnight).
- Place the Corn Husks in a large bowl and cover with HOT water. Place a large plate or bowl on top of husks to keep them submerged. Soak Husks for 1-2 hours.
- While the Husks are soaking, prepare the Masa.
- Affix a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Place the Shortening (or lard) in the bowl and beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
- Add Salt and Baking Powder to bowl, beat for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- With mixer running, you are going to add HALF of the Masa mixture, in golf ball sized portions, to the bowl. Beat 10-15 seconds between each addition.
- Now with HALF of the masa mixture still remaining you are going to start alternating the Masa with the Beef Broth, until all of the Masa is added to the bowl, along with a total of 3/4 cup Beef Broth. If the mixture seems too dry add additional broth, 1 TBS at a time.
- Perform the ‘Masa Test’ to see if it is ready to be used. Rip off a small (1/2 tsp) portion of the Masa, form it into a ball, and drop it into a bowl of cold water. Does it float? Because it should! If it did, congrats… let’s move on to the next step!! If it did not, continue to beat the masa mixture for an additional 2 minutes. Test again. Continue this process until your masa ball floats.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine Pulled Pork, Chipotle Peppers, Adobo Sauce, Cumin, Sugar, and Salt/Pepper to taste.
- With a clean soft kitchen towel or paper towel, pat the soaked Corn Husk dry. Place dried Corn husk, smooth side up, on a clean work surface.
- Place about 1/4th of a Cup prepared Masa in the widest part of the center of the Husk. Use your fingers, or a spatula, to spread the masa out evenly over the husk (about an 1/8th’’ thick), leaving a ½’’ boarder at the sides and top and 2’’ boarder at the bottom.
- Place 2 TBS of the Pork Filling in the center of the Masa. Sprinkle about 1 TBS Queso Fresco Cheese over top of Pork.
- Fold the Husk in half, horizontally (left and right side), so the edges of the husk meet. Peel the husk back so the filling is encased in the masa and in the center of the corn husk.
- Fold in Left and Right side (like folding a business letter). Fold the bottom of the corn husk up to seal, leaving top open. Place seam side down a tray, baking sheet, or work surface as you continue forming and folding the remaining tamales.
- **Optional** if you want to make the Tamales “Pretty”, cut thin strips (vertically) from a couple corn husks and wrap/tie around the tamale.
- Add remaining Broth and enough water to a large pot, with steamer insert, to reach ½’’ below insert. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Place a few corn husks into the bottom of the steamer insert.
- Arrange Tamales on top, vertically (standing up), into the insert. *if you do not have enough tamales to keep them all standing up in place, leaning on each other, ball up a couple pieces of aluminum foil and place in the bottom of the insert to help them stand up.
- Place insert with Tamales into the pot and cover the tops with a few morn corn husks. Cover the pot with a lid.
- Steam for 1 hour 15 minutes- 1 hour 30 minutes…CHECKING THE WATER LEVEL frequently and adding more water as necessary.
- After 1 hour and 15 minutes, check Tamales for doneness. Remove one tamale from the pot, are replace lid on pot…continuing to cook the rest as you check.
- Allow removed tamale to cool for 2 minutes. Unwrap, carefully (don’t burn yourself on the steam that will be released). The Tamales are ready to be devoured when the masa is set and easily pulls away from the corn husk.
- If “tester” tamale looks good, remove steamer basket from pot. Allow tamales to sit and rest for 2-5 minutes, remove individually from the steamer basket. Serve with Tomatillo Grilled Chile Salsa and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and crumbled queso fresco cheese.
I also like mine with a small dollop of Sour Cream and a drizzle of Tabasco brand Habernero Hot sauce. Nom Nom Nommmmm!