Pork tamales are pretty easy to make, but there is a fair amount of labor involved, and it's best to spread the process over two days.
Cook the meat.
3 lb Pork roast 48 oz chicken broth 2 tsp New Mexico Chile Powder 1 1/2 tsp cumin 1 1/2 tsp salt 2 cloves chopped garlic
Cook in crock pot on Low for 12 hrs.
None of the ingredients or amounts listed are critical. The main point is to cook some meat until it is soft. The crock pot is an easy method that works. The result is a hunk of meat that falls apart easily and can be shredded by gentle prodding with a fork. You can throw in some dried chiles as well (using the method described below, I usually throw in a half dozen New Mexico chiles, de-seeded, and blended into a puree with warm broth).
Make the chili, masa, and finish the Tamales.
Red Chile with Pork
9 New Mexico Chile Pods 9 Anaheim Chile Pods 1 tsp cumin 1 tsp salt 2 Tablespoons flour 2 Tablespoons oil 2 cloves chopped garlic 1 1/2 cups broth (from roast)
If the roast was cooked the day before, the roast and broth should be reheated. You'll use the broth for the chile and the masa, and the meat will be shredded and added to the chile. For me, this means I take the crock pot out of the fridge and turn it back on for an hour or so.
I use the dried chile pods available from Mexican markets. Snap or cut off the stems from the pods, and empty out the seeds. Cut or tear the chiles into pieces (1/2 to 1 inch) and place into a bowl big enough so they can soak in hot broth. Place a sauce pan large enough to hold the chile and the meat on medium heat. Dump the chile pieces into the pan and use the pan to roast them for a few minutes with some shaking action. Don't let them get too hot or start smoking. The idea is to expose them to heat to bring out and develop flavor without burning them or turning them bitter.
Place them back into the bowl, and add 1 1/2 cups of hot broth from the meat. Let them soak for 20-30 minutes. Place the contents in a blender and make a puree, adjusting the consistency with broth. The mixture should form a beautiful deep red sauce.
Put 2 Tbl spoons oil into sauce pan on medium heat. Add the flour and mix until the flour begins to turn golden brown. Add the garlic, cumin, and salt. Once the garlic is hot, add the chile puree. Simmer on very low heat for 10-15 minutes. There is no need to let it boil (some people think boiling will make the chili bitter, while others let it simmer for a while). During this time, cut and shred the pork roast. It should fall apart very easily.
Turn off heat, add shredded pork meat, and stir together. Adjust consistency with broth as desired.
Soak the Corn Husks
Rinse the corn husks (aka hojas, pronounced O-hos). I fill a tub with warm water and let them soak at least 30 minutes before using them.
4 lbs prepared Masa 1 1/2 cups lard or shortening 2 Tablespoons salt 2 tsp baking powder 1 cup broth from the pork roast
Where I live, prepared Masa is sold in the Mexican markets in 4 lb bags (Li'l Guy Brand). It consists of a thick dough of ground corn treated with lime. There are no instructions on it. Basically to this dough you add lard, broth, and baking powder to make a thick paste for the Tamales.
Start with 1 1/2 cups lard or shortening, whip with beaters until creamy and aerated like whipped cream. Add 2 tsp baking powder. Begin adding dollops of the masa dough, add in salt, broth, and more masa as you go. You can use any device you like from hand held beaters to counter top mixers. Keep adding to the mixture until all the masa has been added. You can try testing your masa mix to see if a spoonful will float in a glass of cold water. If it floats that's a good sign that you whipped lots of air into the lard. Mine doesn't usually float, but the tamales cook and taste fine.
Prepare and steam the Tamales
Once you have masa, chili, and hojas, you're ready to go. Remove some hojas from the soaking water, and place into a bowl. For each tamale, take a corn husk and find the smooth side, spread the masa 1/4 inch thick or less (thinner on top) so that it covers the corn husk everywhere except two inches from the apex. Place a dollop of chili in the center of the masa, fold the sides, first one over the chili, then the other, then grab the apex and fold it towards the body of the tamale - which will seal the epex end. The apex end is how the tamale will stand up in the steam pot. Fill the pot with Tamales and steam for two hours. make sure you don't run out of water!
The recipe above yields about 45 Tamales.