Pork Pasilla Tamales
What is more Mexican than tamales? Although these take a bit longer to prepare than some other Mexican dishes, they are well worth the effort because they taste so good. Tamales are made from masa, a corn-based, starchy dough, along with your choice of filling. Here we are using spicy pork but cheese, vegetables, fruits or other meats are other options for fillings. Tamales were made by the ancient Mayans as far back as 5000 to 8000 BC and they prepared them for special feasts. The Mayans used tamales as portable food, for travelers, hunters and armies.
Tamales were featured at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, in the United States, and they have been eaten in the US since then. Mexican and other Latin American style tamale are available, but there are also indigenous styles, such as Cherokee tamales which are made with hominy and beans, and African-American tamales made from cornmeal instead of masa. In Chicago, cornmeal is piped into paper using a machine, which is a very modern way of making them. A meat pie or casserole made with tamale fillings and a cornmeal crust is referred to as a ‘tamale pie’.
Tamales are usually made in batches because of the work involved, especially if you are making your own masa (dough). So if you are having a Cinco de Mayo party, a birthday party, or just friends coming over to eat, try this wonderful tamale recipe and you will love the spicy pork filling. These are also nice looking because they are served in corn husks. Tamales can be served as appetizers or as the main dish. This recipe makes 16 tamales in total but double the recipe if you are expecting a crowd. Reduce the amount of chilies if you want them milder.
These tamales are not difficult to make or assemble. When you are ready to fill them, use a wooden spoon to spread the masa over the husk, then add a tablespoon or two of filling on top of that. You can then roll them closed and tear a strip from another husk to make your tie, which you can knot around the center of the tamale to keep it closed. These are going to be steamed so they will not be moving around at all. However, it is still a good idea to tie them closed. If you do not have enough corn husks you can use a little kitchen twine to tie them.
- 1¼ lbs boneless pork shoulder or loin
- 16 corn husks
- 4 peeled garlic cloves
- 1 peeled yellow onion
- 1½ oz pasilla chilies
- ⅛ cup corn oil
- 2½ lbs prepared masa
- ¾ cup water
- Salt, as needed
- Put the pork, garlic, onion and 2 teaspoons of salt in a pot.
- Cover them with water.
- Bring the mixture to a boil then turn the heat down.
- Simmer for 2 hours or until the pork is tender enough to shred with 2 forks.
- Discard the seeds and stems of the chilies.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over a moderate heat.
- Sauté the chili pods for a few minutes but do not let them burn.
- Put them in a blender with ¾ water and blend until smooth.
- Shred the pork and cook it in the oil until browned, then stir in the chili mixture.
- Add a teaspoon of salt and cook for 6 or 7 minutes.
- Soak the corn husks for 5 minutes then drain.
- Spread the masa over the corn husks then add a tablespoon of pork mixture in the middle.
- Fold all the sides toward the center, then use a strip of the corn husk to tie them closed.
- Cover the tamales with a wet cloth and steam for an hour or until done.
Learning how to make tamales is not difficult at all, and this is one of the best Mexican dishes to make if you have a crowd coming over and you want to serve them something spicy, typically Mexican and as authentic as you can get. Tamales have been prepared for thousands of years, dating back to Mayan times. Perhaps you have never tried them before, or maybe you have had them in a restaurant. The best kind has to be the homemade kind though, so take a look at this pork tamales recipe which includes onion, garlic and pasilla chilies, and your mouth will begin to water.
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