Homemade Tamales

You know what’s on the table today? The best hot tamales in the world! This is a tradition for a lot of families to have tamales around the holidays so we’re sharing this recipe so you can hopefully start your own traditions. 

Let me start this by saying- this will take a little time, but it is not difficult. Get your friends and family involved and it’s a pretty fun recipe to put together. 

Boil Pork Until It Falls Apart

First, drag out that Crock Pot and turn that rascal up on high. To that add 2 cups of chicken broth,  2 minced garlic cloves and salt and pepper.

Now it’s time to cut up that pork butt. Cut it in about 2” chunks. I like to season it well with Red River Ranch mesquite seasoning (or seasoning of your choice) and rub it well on both sides.

Add the pork to the Crock Pot and top with 2 bay leaves. Cover it and we need to let it cook  about 4.5 to 5 hours, or until that meat falls apart and gets as tender as it can be.

When the meat is done, strain it and place in a bowl. With a pair of forks, shred the meat well. Be sure to reserve all the broth from the Crock Pot. 

Soak the Corn Husk in Water

Now, about 2 hours into this process, let’s go ahead and get that sack of corn husks out. Fill the kitchen sink with warm water and separate the husks and add them to the water. Top them with a plate, or something to weight them down so they stay submerged, and let  them soak about 2 hours.

Make the Red Sauce

As those are soaking and the is meat cooking, let’s go ahead and make this beautiful red sauce that goes in both the masa and the meat. You’ll need 3 dried guajillo peppers. Take the ends off of them and shake the seeds out. Add them to a medium saucepan that is about 3/4 full of water. 


Add a white onion (cut in half) and  2 whole garlic cloves. Take the dried ancho chilies and de-stem and remove the seeds from these as well and add to the saucepan.  Finally, de-stem the jalaepno and serrano peppers – remove the seeds if you like less heat. 

Homemade Tamales

Blend the sauce to make it smooth.

Boil the ingredients for about 15 minutes or until they get good and tender. Then I’m going to remove them from the heat and let them cool slightly. Drain the ingredients and add to a blender and blend until everything is smooth. I also like to strain the sauce to make sure it’s good an smooth. 

Making the Masa

Start with about 2 1/4 cups of masa mix. Masa is a corn flour that you can find at the grocery store either in the baking or Mexican aisle at the grocery store. Salt and pepper, to taste. 

We’re going to start by adding about 2 1/2 cups of the reserved meat broth and about 1 cup of the lard that you have melted. Stir that well up with a spoon. Now it’s time to get your hands in it!  

It’s important to know that this isn’t going to be like a biscuit dough or anything you’ve been used to making before. This is going to be pretty wet.  I like to keep adding the broth and lard about 1/2 cup at a time until it gets to a consistency that sticks together but is wet enough to spread. Check the video below to see how we do it. 

Homemade Tamales

Make the masa wet so it spreads easy and doesn’t fall apart.

I think the biggest thing I learned when making the masa mixture is that it has to be moist. You’ll probably end up using all the prok broth (about 4 cups) and about 2 1/2 – 3 cups of the melted lard. 

Be sure to also add 3- 4 tablespoons of the red sauce to the mix which is going to add some great flavor to the masa. 


Keep working it with your hands until it gets well incorporated. If it gets too crumbly, your masa just won’t spread well. 

Now, add all that leftover red sauce to the pork and mix it up well. Now we’re ready to make the tamales! 

Fill the Husks

Be sure you drain the husks well from the water. There is a smooth side of the husks and that’s the side you want to spread the masa mix on. Take about 2 tablespoons of the masa mix and evenly spread onto the smooth side toward the short side of one end of the husk (see below). We ended up making about 4×5-inch area of the mix, but you can make them as big or small as you like. 

Add about 2 tablespoons of meat right down the middle. Now,  just fold it over, give it a tuck, and keep rolling. Fold the long end under and that’s it!  Now get the rest of the family involved ’cause you’ve got about 35 more to go! 

Also remember to save those leftover husks because you’ll need them when we go to steaming these fellers!  

Steam the Tamales

If you check the video below- you’ll see how I created a homemade “Cowboy” tamale steamer… but ya’ll can just get one on Amazon or a lot stores carry them.

Homemade Tamales

Cook them in a steam pot for 1.5 to 2 hours.

Put the folded side down and stack your tamales standing up. Place a couple layers of the leftover husks on top, to keep in the moisture, then cover with the lid and let it go to steaming.

We’re going to let them cook for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When it’s time to check them, I like to remove one from the pot and let it cool just a tad. If it will easily release from the wrapping, it’s done! 

Homemade Tamales

Like, I said before… this may be a little time consuming but it isn’t hard and it is well worth the effort!

From our family to yours we wish you happy holidays and happy cooking! 

Pork Filling for Tamales - Cowboy Kent Rollins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ cup chopped white onion
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ pounds pork butt chopped into 2 inch pieces
  • Red River Ranch Mesquite seasoning or other all-purpose seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 16 oz. bag of corn husks

Instructions

  1. Pour the chicken broth into a crockpot and turn it on high. Stir in the garlic, onion, cumin, black pepper and salt.
  2. Cut the pork meat into about 2-inch chunks. Season both sides well with the mesquite and then add to the Crock Pot. Top with the bay leaves and cover. Let cook for about 4 ½ to 5 hours, or until tender.
  3. When meat is tender, strain it from the broth and put into a bowl and let cool to enough to handle. Be sure to reserve the broth, for later. Shred the meat with 2 forks. Set aside.
  4. 2 hours before the meat is done, submerge the corn husks in hot water (in a sink or bowl). Put a plate on top to weight the husks down and let soak for 2 hours. Drain well before using.

 

Red Sauce for Tamales - Cowboy Kent Rollins

Ingredients

  • 3 dried guajillo chili peppers
  • 3 dried ancho chili peppers
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 serrano pepper
  • 1 large onion cut in half
  • 2 garlic cloves

Instructions

  1. Remove the stems and seeds from the guajillo and ancho peppers and add to a medium saucepan. Destem the jalapeno and serrano peppers and add to the pan. If you would like a more mild flavor, remove the seeds also.
  2. Add the onion and garlic cloves to the pan and add enough water to cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil over for about 15 minutes or until all the ingredients are tender, about 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
  3. Strain and add the contents to a blender. Blend until smooth. Strain the sauce to make sure it is smooth.

Masa for Tamales - Cowboy Kent Rollins

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups masa mix for tamales
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups hog lard or manteca measured out solid then melted
  • Reserved meat broth about 4 cups

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl add the masa, salt and pepper and mix well.
  2. Start by stirring in about 1 cup of the lard and 2 ½ cups of the meat broth. Stir with a spoon until combined.
  3. Stir in about 3 - 4 tablespoons of the red sauce.
  4. Lightly flour your hands and begin working the dough. Continue adding the meat broth and lard (about ½ cup at a time) until you get a very moist consistency that will stick together, but easily spread. You may not end up using all the lard.

  5. Pour the remaining red sauce into the pulled pork and stir to combine.
  6. Take a corn husk with the smooth side up, and spoon about 2 tablespoons of the masa mixture on top of the husk and at one end of of the shorter side of the husk. Smooth out to create a thin layer of the masa to the desired size (we did about 4x5-inch area).
  7. Top with about 2 tablespoons of the pork down the center.

  8. Fold the husk over to meet the opposite side and tuck and roll under. Fold the long end under. Repeat with the remaining husks and mixture. Note: you won’t end up using all the husks and you may have masa/filling remaining.
  9. Place the tamales, folded end down, in a tamale steamer. Cover the top with the remaining corn husks to hold in the moisture and cover with a lid. Steam for about 1 ½ to 2 hours or until the tamales easily release from the husks.

Recipe Notes

Makes about 3 dozen.