While those of you in the US are celebrating Groundhog's Day, here in Mexico we are celebrating Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas). In the Catholic faith, it's a Feast Day to celebrate the day that Mary presented Jesus in the temple. And in Mexican tradition it is also the day that whoever found the baby Jesus figurine in La Rosca de Reyes has to make (or pay for) the tamales. And that's exactly what Girlichef and I are making this month for She Made / Ella Hace.
I can't think of a better tamal recipe to share with you than my grandmother's delicious shredded pork tamales. Tender pieces of shredded pork in a spicy chile colorado sauce tucked inside a soft and billowy corn masa (dough). Hidden inside each tamal, was Gramm's secret
I slid down to sit on the floor to bask in the familiar aroma for a few more minutes before the kiddies came home from school. I closed my eyes wishing I could hear my grandparents laughing and joking as they worked, and the tears started to rolled down my face. Mostly they were tears of joy because of the happy memories evoked by the aroma of the masa and chiles permeating throughout the house. But my heart also ached a little because of how much I miss my grandparents, and because I'm still mourning the loss of my beloved grandmother. After a few deep sighs, I found comfort in realizing that I am keeping their memory alive by sharing and passing on these traditions to my children. And hopefully one day, they'll share these same traditions with their families.
Tamales de Puerco con Chile Colorado
(Shredded Pork Chile Colorado Tamales)
- 2 pounds pierna de cerdo (you can use pork rump or shoulder roast)
- 1 medium onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 dried ancho chilies
- 2 dried guajillo chilies
- 1 cup pork or chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Masa (Tamale Dough):
- 4 cups masa harina (I use regular Maseca)
- 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup manteca (lard) or shortening
- 3 cups pork or chicken broth
- 24 large dried corn husks
- 1 to 2 cans whole black olives, pitted
Preparing the Meat Filling:
Making tamales can be a little time consuming. So to make it an easier and more pleasant experience, I like to prepare the meat filling a day or two in advance.
Cut the pork meat into about 4 large pieces, so that the meat cooks evenly. Place the pork meat in a 4-quart pot with the medium onion and two garlic cloves; season with salt and pepper. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the pork meat, about 6 to 8 cups. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and let simmer until the meat is completely cooked and very tender.
|I used 3 small onions, because that's what I had on hand.|
While the meat is cooking, cook the dried ancho and guajillo chilies in 2 cups of water. Let cool slightly, then remove the stems and seeds. Puree the chilies, 1 clove of garlic, the chili powder, and ground cumin with 1 cup of the water the chilies were cooked in and 1 cup of pork broth until smooth. Pour the chile puree over the shredded pork and mix until well combined.
Season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preparing the Hojas (corn husks):
In a large bowl, cover the corn husks with boiling water. Cover and let set for about an hour or until the corn husks are soft and pliable.
Rinse the corn husks with cold water to remove any dirt and residue. Pat the corn husks with a kitchen towel until completely dry. (Masa doesn't stick to wet corn husks.)
Making the Masa:
In a medium bowl, combine the masa harina, baking powder and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the lard with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. (Light and fluffy manteca makes for light and fluffy tamales.)
With your electric mixer still on medium-high, beat in the masa harina, one cup at a time until no dry bits of masa harina are visible. (Mixture will be grainy.) Reduce the electric mixer speed to low and stir in 3 cups of very warm pork broth until it has all been absorbed. Using your hands, press the mixture together to form a dough.
Now let's make some tamales!
Spoon about 1/4 cup of masa (dough) onto each corn husk. You could spread the masa with a spoon, but I think it's much easier to flatten it with your fingertips. A good rule of thumb is to flatten the masa to about a 1/4-inch thickness across two-thirds of the corn husk, leaving a 1/4-inch space on one side and the top, and about a 3-inch space at the bottom.
Spoon a couple tablespoons of the meat filling down the center of the masa and top with 2 to 3 black olives. (This is when Gramm would say, "Don't be stingy with the filling, no las estasmos haciendo para vender!") (Translation: We're not making them to sell!)
Starting at the 1/4-inch edge, gently fold your tamal in thirds, then tuck in the ends. (This is the easiest way to wrap tamales. The process will get easier with each tamal you make. Practice makes perfect!) Place the tamales seam-side down on a large plate, until you've finished with all of the tamales.
Fill the bottom of an 8 to 10-quart tamale steamer (or larger if you are doubling the recipe) just to the bottom of the ridge where the steamer insert rests. Place the insert inside the tamale steamer and arrange the tamales loosely so the steam can circulate. Cover and cook over high heat for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 45 minute to an hour. (If you don't own a tamale steamer, don't worry. My grandmother cooked her tamales in a large roasting pan on the stove with enough water that covered the tamales about 1/3 of the way.)
For a complete meal, serve with Mexican Rice , Refried Beans, and a delicious Atole. (And remember to remove the corn husks from the tamales before eating them.) Enjoy!!! (Yields 18 to 24 tamales)
Now head on over to Girlichef's to check out her recipe for sweet Tamales de Fresa!