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The Whole Enchilada, Issue #002 -- Authentic Mexican Pork Tamales
December 03, 2003

The Whole Enchilada, Issue #002

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The Whole Enchilada

Issue # 002, 03 December 2003
Authentic Mexican Pork Tamales

What's cooking this month ...
  • Recipe of the month
    • Authentic Mexican Pork Tamales
    • Easy Crab Tamales with Lemon Masa
  • Free cook books

December brings lots of things - cold weather, football playoffs, holiday shopping, and ... Tamales! It wouldn't be the holiday season without several dozen hot steaming tamales sitting around the kitchen waiting to be devoured.

If you live in Mexico or the southwestern United States, there are plenty of tamales for sale. You can also make your own, but most people don't because tamales can take quite some time to prepare using authentic Mexican recipes.

This month's issue has both a traditional, authentic Mexican pork tamale recipe for those of you who have the patience AND a quick and easy not so traditional crab tamale recipe.

Recipe of the Month

Authentic Mexican Pork Tamales
Makes 3 dozen tamales

Ingredients (pork filling)

2 lbs pork roast

  (or substitute chuck roast)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp white vinegar

1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

2 dried ancho chile peppers

  (or substitute 2 Tbsp chili powder)

2 cloves garlic, whole


1 tsp chopped fresh oregano

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp ground cumin    salt to taste
1 tsp red pepper, crushed (optional) 36 dried corn husks

Ingredients (masa)

2 cups lard
1 Tbsp salt
5 cups masa harina


Place corn husks in a large pan, cover with warm water, and soak for 3 hours, until soft. Weight down with an inverted plate to ensure that the corn husks are completely covered with water.

Fill a large stock pot with cold water, add pork and whole garlic cloves, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 2-3 hours, until pork is tender and shreds easily. Remove pork, reserving 3 cups broth and discard garlic. Allow meat to cool about 5 minutes and shred finely with forks.

Toast ancho chile peppers in a heavy skillet, making sure not to burn them. Allow to cool and then remove stems and seeds. Grind in a spice grinder or with mortar and pestle.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Mix in flour and allow to brown slightly. Pour in 1 cup pork broth and stir until smooth. Add cumin, oregano, red pepper, ground chiles (or chili powder), minced garlic, vinegar and salt and stir until well mixed. Stir shredded pork into skillet. Cover and simmer 45 minutes.

Place lard and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix at high speed until fluffy. Add masa harina and mix at low speed until thoroughly mixed. Pour in reserved broth in small amounts until the masa has the consistency of soft cookie dough.

Remove corn husks and drain. Open and flatten out each husk, and spread about 2 tablespoons masa mixture onto approximately 3/4 of the wide end of the corn husk.

Add about 1 tablespoon of meat mixture evenly down the middle of the masa. Roll up the corn husk starting at one of the long sides. Fold the narrow end of the husk onto the rolled tamale. Place tamales in a steamer basket. Steam over boiling water for approximately one hour, until masa is firm.

Easy Crab Tamales with Lemon Masa
Makes 8 tamales

Ingredients (Lemon Masa)

2 Cups Corn Flour
1 Cup Lard, Melted
4 Tbsp Lemon Zest
1 Tbsp Salt
  Warm Water (for thinning masa)
8 Corn Husks


Soak corn husks in warm water to soften. Combine the corn flour, lemon zest, salt, and lard in a mixing bowl and mix slowly until a coarse paste is formed. Gradually add the water and continue mixing on low speed until a smooth paste begins to form.

Set masa mixture aside for about 15 minutes. After masa mixture has rested, place masa into cornhusks and smooth to cover. Leave a depression in the middle of the masa mixture in the cornhusks for the crab meat.

Ingredients (Crab Meat Filling)

1 lb Crab Meat
1/4 Cup - Chipotle Chile Pepper Puree
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Olive Oil


Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, stir, and pack firmly in masa-covered cornhusks. Steam tamales in a covered steamer for 20 minutes, or until the masa has cooked fully and is firm.

Hope you enjoy these tamale recipes. If you can't find some of the ingredients in your local grocery store, consider ordering online. Several excellent online Mexican food stores are on the Online groceries page. You can also find kitchen tools like mortar & pestle, tortila press, and more at these sites.

See you next month.

Alan Howard
Mexican & Barbecue Recipes

P.S. In case you haven't checked out the entire site, don't miss the free cookbooks. There are over 300 great recipes in these two cook books.

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