Wednesday, April 29, 2009

South of the Border

Though Cinco de Mayo is still a few days away, I thought I’d head down to 18th Street and start celebrating early by making tamales at home!

I had long thought making tamales would be difficult but oh no. While it may take a bit of time to cook the pork, the rest is a snap. And the extra pork can be used to make tacos or burritos, or just add your favorite barbeque sauce for a quick and delicious lunch!


1 tablespoon canola oil
4 pounds pork shoulder
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon cumin
1 onion, quartered
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
2 cups chicken stock
Water as needed

Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add canola oil and heat another minute.
Salt and pepper pork shoulder and put in pan to brown on all sides.
Add all other ingredients up to and including chicken stock to crock pot or large stock pot.
Add pork shoulder to liquid mixture and add water until pork shoulder is nearly covered.
Cook on medium low heat for 4 hours or until meat easily falls apart; use two forks holding them point side down and pull meat apart.

Sauce for Carnitas

1 tomato, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno, diced, seeds and membrane removed
Kosher salt to taste
1 onion, diced

Take tomato and garlic and mix in blender.
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, heat canola oil for one minute.
Add onion and sweat until translucent, about 2 minutes.
Add tomato mixture and increase heat to medium high and reduce for 5 minutes.
Set aside.


Corn husks
2 cups Maseca*
2 cups chicken stock
2/3 cup lard or shortening
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Take corn husks and soak in water, set aside.
Combine Maseca, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix well with lukewarm chicken stock to form a soft dough.
Whip lard to incorporate air and make fluffy.
Fold lard into dough.
Let the dough set for 30 minutes.
Dry the corn husks.
Take the Maseca dough and spoon it onto the corn husk.

Mix shredded pork with sauce and apply to center of Maseca dough.

Roll the tamale like a burrito, making sure that Maseca dough completely covers meat filling.
Put tamales in a steamer and steam for 1 hour. The dough will easily separate from corn husk when done.

Serve with your favorite toppings!

The tamales I prepared were authentic, where the meat plays second fiddle to the corn flavor of the Maseca dough. However, I generally prefer my tamales with a little more meat in the center.
*You can also buy Maseca with the shortening already incorporated. In that case, simply add the baking powder and salt and then combine with chicken stock to form a dough.

I’ve seen Maseca and corn husks at Whole Foods. But if you’re in Chicago, I strongly suggest making a trip to 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood to Del Rey (1023 18th Street, Chicago), where the corn tortillas are warm and the Maseca comes right off the production line. Del Rey also sells wheat flour products but manufactures them at another location so there’s less reason to worry about cross contamination!

Next Post: Staying Safe and Sound at Six Flags


FoodAllergyMom said...

Oh my goodness, I'm so glad you left a comment on my blog so I could come here! Your food looks AMAZING! For the most part, no one in my house will eat "Emily's food" except for Emily. Everyone is going to want this! I'm so excited I'm giddy. Any suggestions for a vegetarian filling? I think I saw potato tamales once. Thank you again...I love your site!

Lisa Cooks Allergen Free said...

Thank you for your kind words, hmmm potato filling, I wonder how that would be, it may be too starchy, but I would love to give it a try, I would think maybe carmelized onions and assorted peppers would be tasty, maybe some grilled zucchini and squash? Make sure you use vegetable shortening for your masa, the spanish use pork fat.