Mississippi Delta Pork Tamales

"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."
photo by a food.com user photo by a food.com user
Ready In:




  • 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.

Questions & Replies

Got a question? Share it with the community!


  1. 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.



Find More Recipes