Prep 30 mins
Cook 3 hrs 30 mins
Born from a combination of Mexican migrant workers, and thanks to African-American and Italian influences, this dish is pure Delta. From the land of the Blues, highly spiced meat surrounded by corn husks are boiled and not steamed like traditional tamales.
- 36 dried corn husks
- 1⁄4 cup chili powder
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 2 1⁄2 lbs boneless pork shoulder, quartered
- 1 3⁄4 cups vegetable oil
- 2 3⁄4 teaspoons salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 4 cups instant masa harina
- Fill a bowl with hot water and soak the husks to soften.
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, mix 2 tbsp chili powder, the tomato paste and the cayenne powder into 6 cups cold water. To this mixture, add the pork.
- Bring to a boil, cover and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the meat is very tender, about 3 hours. Transfer to a plate, reserving the broth. Shred the meat and transfer to a bowl.
- In a medium saucepan, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium heat. Stir in 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 1/2 tsp salt, cumin and garlic powder and saute stirring frequently for about 30 seconds. Add in 1 cup of the reserved broth and then stir in the meat.
- In a large bowl, mix the masa, the remaining 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of the broth. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the remaining 1 1/2 cups oil.
- Drain the husks and pat dry. Working with one husk at a time, spread about 1/4 cup of the masa mixture down the center. Top with 2 tbsp meat.
- Fold the long sides of the husk together and roll into a skinny log, making sure the masa mixture completely surrounds the meat filling. Fold up the bottom, creating a package that is open on top.
- Loosely tie three tamales together with a piece of kitchen string, making 12 bundles.
- Place a heatproof 2-cup glass measuring cup upside down in the center of an 8-qt stockpot. Stand the tamale bundles, open ends up, around the cup. Fill the pot with the remaining broth and water to reach halfway up the sides of the tamales.
- Bring to a boil, cover then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the masa is firm and pulls away from the husk easily, about 1 hour.
- Serve hot with some of the cooking liquid.
I made these for a party, and they were a huge hit. My first time making tamales, and I learned a few things. First, make sure the corn husks are patted dry, and plan on patting on the masa rather than trying to spread it. I found that I needed to use less than the 1/4 c. called for (I was only able to make 30 tamales and I had a hard time fitting them on a corn husk). Second, in the future, I think I will use two corn husks placed vertically on top of one another (does that make sense?) in order to have a longer fold-up on the bottom. Since my fold-ups were small using one corn husk, I tied them at the bottom and then closer to the top. Also, I used 2/3 shoulder meat and 1/3 sirloin roast, so I had a slightly leaner mixture, which worked great. We'll definitely do these again.