South Texas Pork Tamales

Filling makes enough for 36 tamales


Corn Husks

  • 6 oz bag dried corn husks (60-70 husks needed)
  • large bucket or pot of warm water (enough to submerge husks)

Dried Chiles

  • 4 ancho chiles, stems & seeds removed
  • 4 New Mexican chiles, seeds, stems & veins removed
  • pot of cold water (to reconstitute chiles)

Chile Paste*

  • pulp from reconstituted chiles
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp Mexican oregano
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • ⅓ cup reserved pork stock

Pork Filling

  • 1 lb pork butt meat, cut into chunks
  • enough water to cover pork
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp lard
  • Chile Paste*

Masa Dough

  • 3 cups masa harina
  • 1½ - 2 cups warm water (or pork stock)
  • 5 oz (almost a half of a block) of lard
  • 2 tbsp red chili powder
  • 4 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder


Prepare Husks - (recipe makes filling for about 36 tamales but soak about 60 husks for the filling & for lining the steamer)

  1. Pull husks apart. In a large pot or bucket of warm water, soak the husks, assuring that they are completely submerged. The longer they soak, the better – at least 3 hours
  2. After they have soaked, trim them down to 4” wide. Trim 1-2" off the length of any extremely long husks
  3. About 1 hour before use, drain the water and stand husks upright in the pot or a large bowl, allowing them to drain and dry

Prepare Chiles

  1. Remove stems and seeds from chiles. With a paring knife, make a slit down the side, and open up the chiles. Remove seeds and stems
  2. Submerge in a small pot of cold water. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then shut off the heat, cover the pot, and allow the chiles to sit for 1 hour
  3. Remove chiles from water and place on cutting board. With a paring knife or spatula, scrape the pulp from the skins of the chiles (discard the skins) and set aside

Boil Pork & Make Chile Paste

  1. Cut pork into large chunks, and place into large pot. Add enough cold water to cover pork, bring to a boil, add salt.  Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, about 1 hour or until tender
  2. Strain pork and reserve the stock
  3. Chop pork into small pieces (when cool enough to handle) and set aside
  4. In a blender, add the reserved chile pulp, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and ⅓ cup of the reserved pork stock. Start on low speed, then increase and blend to a paste

Make Pork & Chile Paste Filling

  1. In a large pot, melt 1 tbsp lard over medium heat
  2. Add the boiled and chopped pork and chile paste and stir to incorporate ingredients
  3. Add the remainder of the reserved pork stock, stir, and allow to simmer, uncovered for 30-45 minutes

Make Tamale Dough (Masa)

  1. Place masa in a large bowl. Start with 1½ cups of warm water, and mix together until it reaches a playdough consistency, adding more warm water as needed, up to 2 cups
  2. Melt lard over medium heat in small sauce pan. Stir spices into melted lard
  3. Add lard-spice mix into masa along with baking powder. Beat on low speed with hand mixer, or knead and mix with hands until well incorporated and the mixture feels spongy, fluffy and spreadable
  4. Place a moist towel over the dough until ready to use

Assemble & Steam

  1. Pat dry softened husks
  2. When filling each husk, place the smooth side facing up from the palm of your hand
  3. Spread 1 heaping tbsp of masa with a large spatula or knife (leaving approximately 2" at the top). The masa should be evenly spread across the lower ¾ of the husk
  4. Place husk horizontal on cutting board. With spoon, place approximately 1 heaping tbsp of pork filling in a line along the center of the masa. Roll the husk with meat inside and fold in the side that has no masa
  5. After all tamales have been rolled and stacked (do not flatten), they can be frozen for later use or cooked immediately
  6. To prepare steamer, place a large mound of aluminum foil in the steam basket. Line the bottom of the basket loosely with a few of the husk scraps
  7. To cook, stack tamales upright, side by side (with fold at bottom) around the foil, as if “building a teepee.”  Pile some husk scraps atop the tamales to help lock in the steam and add another layer of flavoring
  8. Start 1 cup of water to simmer in the steamer’s pot. Place the steamer basket inside, cover and cook 1 hour, until the masa is firm and pulls away from husk
  9. Let tamales cool 15 minutes before serving. Serve with your favorite sauce or salsa