Roasted Pork Tamales with Classic
Makes about 18 tamales
to go with tamales
large (about 4 ounces) dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded,
and each torn into several pieces
garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
teaspoon freshly ground cumin
1/2 pounds lean boneless pork shoulder cut into 1/2 inch cubes
ounces (1 1/3 cups) rich-tasting lard (or vegetable shortening,
if you wish), slightly softened but not at all runny
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 pounds (4 cups) fresh, coarse-ground corn masa for tamales
or 3 1/2 cups dried
masa harina for tamales mixed with 2 1/4 cups hot water
1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1-pound package banana leaves, defrosted if frozen
prepare the filling, combine the chiles, garlic, pepper, and
cumin in the bowl of a large blender or food processor. Add 3
cups water and cover. Blend until the mixture becomes a smooth
purée. Strain the purée through a medium-mesh strainer
into a 3-quart saucepan and add the meat, 3 cups water, and 1
teaspoon salt to the purée. Simmer uncovered over medium
heat, stirring regularly, until the pork is tender when pierced
with a fork and the cooking liquid is reduced to the consistency
of a thick sauce (it will take about one hour). Use a fork to
break the pork into small pieces. Taste the pork and season with
additional salt if necessary. Let cool to room temperature.
prepare the tamale batter, place the lard of shortening in
the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a flat paddle. Beat
the lard or shortening on medium-high speed with 2 teaspoons salt
and the baking powder until light in texture, about 1 minute.
Continue beating as you add the masa (fresh or reconstituted),
in three additions. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add 1 cup
of the broth. Continue beating for another minute or so, until
a 1/2-teaspoon dollop of the batter floats in a cup of cold water.
Beat in enough additional broth to give the batter the consistency
of soft (not runny) cake batter; it should hold its shape in a
spoon. Taste the batter and season with additional salt if you
think it is necessary. For the lightest textured tamales, refrigerate
the batter for an hour or so, then beat again, adding enough additional
broth or water to bring the mixture to the soft consistency it
the banana leaves and cut off the long, hard sides of the leaves,
where they were attached to the central vein. Look for holes or
rips, then cut leaves into unbroken 12-inch segments (you will
need 20). Either steam the segments for 20 minutes to make them
soft and pliable, or one at a time pass them briefly over an open
flame or hot electric burner until soft and glossy.
leaf-wrapped tamales can be steamed in batches in a collapsible
vegetable steamer set into a large, deep saucepan (if you stack
the tamales more than two high they will steam unevenly). To steam
the whole recipe at once, you'll need something like the kettle-size
tamal steamers used in Mexico or Asian stack steamers, or you
can improvise by setting a wire stack on 4 coffee or custard cups
in a large kettle. It is best to line the rack or upper part of
the steamer with leftover scraps of banana leaves to protect the
tamales from direct contact with the steam and to add more flavor.
Make sure to leave tiny gaps between the leaves so condensing
steam can drain off.
form the tamales, cut twenty 12-inch pieces of string or thin
strips of banana leaf. One at a time, form the tamales: Lay out
a square of banana leaf, shiny-side up, and on it spread 1/3 cup
of the batter into an 8 by 4 inch rectangle. Spoon 2 tablespoons
of the filling over the left side of the rectangle of batter,
then fold in the right third of the leaf so that the batter encloses
the filling. Fold in the third of the leaf that is not covered
by batter, so that the batter encloses the filling. Fold in the
uncovered third of the leaf, then fold in the top and bottom.
Loosely tie the tamales with string and set them in the steamer.
all the tamales are in the steamer, cover them with a layer of
banana leaf scraps of leftovers. Set the lid in place and steam
over a constant medium heat for about 1 1/4 hours. Watch carefully
so that all the water doesn't boil away, and to keep the steam
steady, pour boiling water into the pot when more is necessary.
are done when the leaf peels away from the masa easily. Let tamales
stand in the steamer off the heat for a few minutes to firm up.
For the best-textured tamales, let them cool completely, then
re-steam about 15 minutes to heat through.
to go with tamales
medium (5 ounces) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
cup ( 2 1/2 ounces) sesame seeds
1/2 cup lard or vegetable oil, plus a little more if necessary
medium (3 ounces) dried mulato chiles, stemmed and seeded
medium (about 1 1/2 ounces) dried ancho chiles, stemmed and
medium (about 1 1/2 ounces) dried pasilla chiles, stemmed and
garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup (2 ounces) almonds
cup (2 ounces) raisins
teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon, preferably Mexican canela
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
teaspoon freshly ground anise seed (optional)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
slice firm white bread, darkly toasted and broken into several
ounce (about 1/3 of a 3.3-ounce tablet) Mexican chocolate, roughly
to 5 tablespoons sugar
of watercress or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
out all the ingredients. Spread the tomatillos on a baking sheet
and roast them 4 inches below a very hot broiler until darkly
roasted, even blackened in spots, about 5 minutes. Flip them over
and roast the other side, 4 or 5 minutes, until splotchy-black,
blistered and soft. Set out 2 large bowls and scrape the tomatillos,
juice and all, into one of them. Set out a pair of tongs and a
an ungreased, small skillet set over medium heat, toast the sesame
seeds, stirring constantly until golden, about 5 minutes. Scrape
2/3 of them in with the tomatillos; set the rest aside for garnish.
a large (8- to 9-quart) pot (preferably a Dutch oven or Mexican
cazuela) over medium heat. Measure the lard or oil into the pot.
Turn on an exhaust fan or open a window or door. Tear the chiles
into flat pieces and, when the lard or oil is hot, fry the chiles,
three or four at a time, flipping them constantly with the tongs,
until their interior sides have changed to a lighter color, about
20 to 30 seconds total frying time. Don't toast them so darkly
that they begin to smoke-that will make the mole bitter. As they're
done, remove them to the empty bowl, being careful to drain as
much fat as possible back into the pot. Remove any stray chile
seeds left in the fat. Cover the toasted chiles with hot tap water
and submerge a plate over them to ensure even rehydration. Let
stand about 30 minutes.
the pot still on the heat, fry the garlic and almonds, stirring
regularly until browned (the garlic should be soft, the almonds
browned through), about 5 minutes. With the slotted spoon, remove
them to the tomatillo bowl, draining as much fat as possible back
into the pot. Now, add the raisins to the hot pot. Stir with your
slotted spoon for 20 to 30 seconds, until they've puffed and browned
slightly. Scoop them in with the tomatillos, draining as much
fat as possible back into the pot.
the temperature under the pot to medium-high. Sprinkle all sides
of the turkey breast halves with salt, then lay one half in the
pot. Thoroughly brown it on all sides, about 10 minutes total.
Remove to a clean plate; brown the other half in the same way.
Cover and refrigerate if not completing Steps 3 and 4 within an
hour or so. Set the pot aside off the heat.
tongs to transfer the rehydrated chiles to a blender, leaving
the soaking liquid behind. Taste the soaking liquid, and, if it
is not bitter, measure 2 1/2 cups into the blender. If it is bitter,
throw the soaking liquid away and measure in 2 1/2 cups water.
Blend the chiles to a smooth purée, adding a little extra
water if necessary to keep the mixture moving through the blades.
Press the chile mixture through a medium-mesh strainer back into
the empty chile-soaking bowl.
washing the blender jar, scrape the tomatillo mixture into it.
Add 1 cup water, along with the cinnamon, black pepper, anise
(if you are using it,) cloves, bread, and chocolate. Blend to
a smooth purée, again a little extra water if necessary
to keep the mixture moving. Press through the strainer back into
the tomatillo-mixture bowl.
the fat in the pot: if there's more than a light coating over
the bottom, pour off the excess; if the pot's pretty dry, film
the bottom with a little more lard or oil. Set over medium-high
heat. When quite hot, scrape in the chile purée and stir
nearly constantly until mixture has darkened considerably and
thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, another 5 to 10
6 cups water to the pot and stir to thoroughly combine. Partially
cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, stirring
occasionally, for 45 minutes. Check the consistency: the mole
should be thick enough to coat a spoon, but not too quickly. If
it's too thin, simmer it briskly over medium to medium-high heat
until a little thicker; if too thick, stir in a little water.
and season with salt, usually about 1 3/4 tablespoons, and the
sugar (if you're new to seasoning mole, keep in mind that it's
a delicate balance of salty, sweet, and spicy; it's best to start
with the minimum quantities suggested, then refine the seasoning
just before serving).
a generous amount of mole around the tamales and sprinkle with
the reserved sesame seeds. Decorate the platter with sprigs of
parsley or watercress.
recipes were provided by participating chefs and have not been tested
by The James Beard Foundation.