“Christmas” Tamales with Red and Green Sauces
For my last post, I showed you how to prepare grilled tamales but here I’m going to go traditional. The heritage of this one is la frontera, where northern Mexico collides with New Mexico and red and green chile sauces reign supreme.
Tamales can be filled with almost anything from meat or poultry to fruits and nuts. To create variations on this traditional recipe, simply replace the pork with the ingredients of choice. Tamales are traditionally served covered with red or green chile sauce–but use both for red and green “Christmas” tamales.
2 pound pork roast
3 cups red chile sauce
4 cups masa harina
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 to 3 cups pork broth or water
2/3 cup lard or shortening
2 cups green chile sauce
In a large pot, cover the pork with water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half or until the pork is very tender and starts to fall apart. Remove the roast and save the broth. With 2 forks or fingers, finely shred the meat.
Combine the pork with 1 cup of the red chile sauce and simmer for 15 minutes, adding more sauce if the meat becomes too dry.
Soak the corn husks in water to soften.
In a bowl, mix together the masa and salt. Slowly add the reserved pork broth, stirring with a fork until the mixture holds together. Whip the lard or shortening until fluffy. Add the masa to the shortening and continue to beat. Drop a teaspoon full of the dough into a glass of cold water. If the dough floats, it is ready. If it sinks, continue to beat it until it floats.
To assemble: Select corn husks that measure about 5 x 8 inches or overlap smaller ones together. Place 2 tablespoons of the masa in the center of the husk, and pat or spread the dough evenly into a 2-by 3-inch rectangle. Place about 3 teaspoons of the pork and the salsa down the center and fold the husk around the masa and filling, being careful not to squeeze the tamale.
There are two basic ways of folding the husks. The first is to take two strips of the corn husks and firmly tie each end of the tamale. This method works well with smaller corn husks.
The second method is to fold the tapered end over the filled husk, and then fold the remaining end over it. Tie the tamale around the middle with a strip of the corn husk to keep the ends folded down.
Place a rack in the bottom of a steamer or large pot. Make sure that the rack is high enough to keep the tamales above the water. Place the tamales on the rack, folded side down, or if the pot is large enough, stand them up. Do not pack them tightly as they need to expand as they cook. Cover with addition husks or a towel to absorb the moisture. Bring the water to a boil, reduce to a gentle boil, and steam for an hour for each dozen tamales or until done. To test for doneness, open one end of the husk and if the masa pulls away from the wrapper, it is done.
Serve with additional the red and green chile sauces, but be sure to unwrap the tamales from the husks before pouring the sauce over them.
Yield: 2 dozen
Heat Scale: Medium
Photos by Sergio Salvador
For more spicy holiday recipes, click on the piñata.