This recipe is a lot of work, but it isn’t “hard”. It’s best to do it over a couple of days. I’m going to write this recipe just the way I did mine.
You’re going to need a large pot in which you can steam the tamales. They need to be steamed while standing on their end. I used this basket in a large canning pot. You will need to be able to put a couple of inches (or more) of water in the pot, without the water touching the tamales.
For the tamales themselves, you will need:
For the meat mixture, you will need:
Pork Roast or Butt (8 – 10 pounds, depending on the fat content.) I used a butt.
I sometimes add an onion or two, quartered, or various kinds of peppers. Whatever I have that looks interesting, I will use it.
For the meat, cut the roast into chunks about the size you would serve at a meal. Put in a pot, cover with water and boil about 2 hours, until the meat is tender. Keep plenty of water in the pot. You will need about 2 quarts of broth/liquid to add to the tamales. Do not add salt or pepper or other seasonings.
You could also use the pressure cooker to cook the meat.
Once the meat is tender, remove from the broth. Save the broth! Put the broth in a bowl or jar and refrigerate so the fat hardens and can be removed.
Shred the meat with your fingers and remove as much fat as possible.
Soak the corn husks in hot water for at least one hour before using them.
To the meat, add:
1/2 cup oil (vegetable or corn)
3 T. chili powder
3 T. cumin powder
3 T. garlic powder
1 T. black pepper
1 T. salt
1 T. paprika (we’re not big paprika fans. If you like it . . add more)
1 tsp. red pepper
Mix the meat/seasonings and oil and make sure it’s shredded as well as you can shred it. Set the meat aside and refrigerate it if it’s going to be a while before you use.
For the Masa mixture:
Start with a 4 pound bag of MaSeCa. Pour about half of it into a mixing bowl. I weighed out 2 pounds.
Into that, add:
1 T. paprika (add more if you like more)
3 T. salt
2 T. ground cumin
2 T. chili powder
2 T. garlic powder
Mix all seasonings into the Masa. Add 2 cups vegetable or corn oil. Mix well. At this point, you may want to taste to adjust the seasonings. It’s going to taste very “grainy” but you can get a feel for the seasonings.
Remove any grease that has hardened from the broth. Heat up the broth til it’s warm . . doesn’t need to be hot but just warm.
Start with 2 cups and add broth as needed to get the mixture to the consistency of a thick peanut butter. If you run out of broth, use warm water. Do not use storebought broth that has salt added; if you know you’re going to use storebought broth, reduce the amount of salt being added to the masa mix. A ball of the Masa mixture should float in ice water when it’s the right consistency. When I first made tamales, I was surprised at how much liquid I had to add to the mix.
If the Masa mixture is too runny, add more MaSeCa in small amounts til you get it right. If it’s too dry, add more broth or warm water.
Lay a corn husk out on a flat surface with the skinny end pointing to the left. Spread the mixture from the edge closest to you, to about 1/2″ from the edge fartherest from you. Also, don’t spread the masa on 1/3 of the thin end (bottom). The Masa mixture expands a little during the cooking. If you like a whole lot of the cornmeal mixture in your tamales, make it thicker. If you like less, make it thin. I made mine about as thin as I could spread it. I use a rubber spatula and after a few batches, you get the hang of it and it goes pretty quickly .. slap the masa on, spread it and on to the next one!
Then lay a thin later of meat is spread in the middle of the tamale. I found that if some of the husks were really big, I just tore off a little piece from one edge. No need to have some really big ones and some really small ones.
Start with the edge closest to you and roll up. Then fold the left end up. Lay them into a steamer basket, with the seam side down. Keep stacking them til the basket is full.
Place the basket in the pot with at least a couple of inches of water but don’t let the water touch the bottom of the tamales. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down, cover the pot and steam gently for about an hour. Make sure the water doesn’t all boil out of the pot. Add more water if necessary.
Remove one (or two!). Let cool and taste to make sure the masa is done (not runny or grainy). If done, remove from heat and let cool before wrapping for the freezer.