Cooking with JoJo: Make your own authentic pork tamales at home

Joey Morasse • Jul 9, 2018 at 8:44 PM

The traditional tamale has been around for centuries and was another form of portable food created for long trips.

The deliciously simple dish is fun to make and can have many different fillings from savory meats and veggies to stewed fruits and nuts for that sweet and savory dessert or for this recipe a spicy shredded pork. All the ingredients are easily found at your local grocery store or international market. Much like this chef, your first batch may take some time to do, but you will get faster the more you make, and the trials and errors are delicious, as well.

What you’ll need:

• 3 pounds pork butt, fat removed.

• 1 large onion, rough chopped.

• 2 cloves garlic, peeled, whole.

• 1 tsp. salt.

• 1 tsp. pepper.

• 1 tsp. cumin.

• 1 tsp. Mexican oregano.

• 1 bay leaf.

• ¼ cup adobo paste.

• 3 cups red chili sauce.

In a large pot on medium-high heat, add all the ingredients and enough water to cover them. Let simmer until the pork is tender. Remove the pork and let it cool for shredding. Keep the broth to add to the Masa mixture. The onion and garlic can be used for another dish if you choose but are only used to flavor the meat and broth for this recipe.

Once cooled, shred the pork finely using two forks or your hands. Once shredded, put into a bowl and add the adobo paste and 1/8 cup of the broth, depending on the dryness of the pork, and mix thoroughly.

For the Masa:

• 6 cups Masa.

• ¾ cups lard.

• pinch of salt.

• 1 ¼ tsp. baking powder.

• 40 dried cornhusks, soaked in warm water about 20 minutes

Place the ingredients in a mixer on medium or do it with your hands. Add just enough broth as you mix to make a creamy paste. If it is too wet, add more Masa, too dry add more broth. Drain the husks well. To make your tamales, husks should be about 9 inches long and 5 inches wide. If they are not, it is OK to overlap them. Add about 2 teaspoons of the Masa mixture in the middle of the husk and spread out about 3 inches wide and 7 inches long. Down the center of the mixture, add 1-1 ½ teaspoons of the meat mixture. Fold the husk at one end and roll as you would a burrito. Using a steamer or a pot with boiling water just below a strainer basket, cover and let steam, open side up, for about 30 minutes. Gently unwrap and serve with your favorite salsa. Practice makes perfect so do not get discouraged if your first batch does not turn out restaurant quality. 

They also freeze well left in the husks and can be reheated when thawed and wrapped in a moist paper towel for one to two minutes in a microwave. Enjoy.

Cooking since he could pull a chair up to the stove at 5 years old, Joey Morasse, of Lebanon, is the owner and operator of JoJo’s Barbecue and Catering. He is also a personal chef and offers in-home cooking classes.

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