Pork Tamales ala Amore

Kelly adds: you can make a vegan / vegetarian version of these. For the filling, use jack cheese (or vegan cheese substitute), brewer’s yeast, and rinsed and drained corn.

From the chef:

“I make a large pork roast and use some of the meat for tamales instead of starting with raw pork. If you do start with raw pork, you can brown it, then add it to the sauce for the entire 1.5 hours of simmering time. I also make the filling the day before and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. This is a pretty lengthy process if you do it all at once, but most of it can be done in advance to make the final assembly and steaming time go very smoothly. It is great to have people help assemble the tamales!”

Boil a large pan of water and layer about 20-25 cornhusks in the water. Weight with a plate so they are completely submerged and allow to rehydrate for about 1 hour.

4 dried ancho (pasilla) chiles
chili powder (optional)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 inch thick slice white or yellow onion
1/2 pound cooked pork cut in 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoon salt (approximately)
olives (optional)

Toast chiles in dry skillet over high heat until fragrant and barely smoking and cool. Remove stems and seeds. Cut chiles in large pieces and cover with hot water. Allow to rehydrate for about 30 minutes. Place chiles, garlic cloves, onion, pepper and enough chile liquid to cover everything in a blender or food processor. Blend thoroughly. Press mixture through a strainer into a medium saucepan to remove any seeds or skin. Add 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer over low heat for about 1 hour (if you are using raw pork, brown it and add it at this time).

Add cooked pork pieces and simmer for about 15-30 minutes more until meat has soaked up some liquid and is falling apart tender. Add about 1/2 – 1 more teaspoons salt to taste. I sometimes add some additional chili powder at this time if the chile taste is too mild. This filing should be very flavorful since only a small amount of it will go in each tamale.

1 3/4 cups dried masa harina
1/2 cup shortening or lard
1 t. baking powder
1/2 to 1 cup beef broth
salt to taste

Reconstitute 1 3/4 cups masa harina with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot water. This mixture should be barely moist and still crumbly (you may need to add more water). Cool. In a large mixing bowl beat together the shortening and baking powder until fluffy. Alternate adding 1/3 of the masa with 1/3 of the beef broth and continue beating. Add more beef broth if necessary to make a batter that is similar to a thick but soft cake batter. Try the raw batter and add salt to taste.

Cut two or three of the cornhusks into strips about 1/2 inch wide to use as ties. Dry the remaining cornhusks with a towel. Assemble tamales; you may need to use two husks on one tamale if they are small. Add about 1/4 cup masa, 1 – 2 tablespoons filling (and olive if you choose) to a cornhusk. Tie with strip of husk. Place open end up on a rack in a pan of boiling/steaming water. Steam steadily for 1 hour. If the water is not very deep, add a little water a few times during steaming process, but do not allow the water to stop boiling.

Enjoy as-is or with sour cream and salsa.

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