Mama's Red Tamales

Total Time:
5 hr 45 min
Prep:
15 min
Cook:
5 hr 30 min

Yield:
90 to 100 tamales

Ingredients
  • 4 large size pork shoulder roasts (about 24 pounds)
  • 8 tablespoons garlic salt
  • 4 pounds New Mexico dried chili pods
  • Whole cumin seeds, crushed (about 4 tablespoons after crushing)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3 to 4 bags dried cornhusks, cleaned and soaked in water
  • 25 pounds prepared masa
Directions

Prepare pork roasts by boiling the meat with about 2 tablespoons of garlic salt per roast. Use as many pots as you need to accommodate the roast. Cook the meat until fork tender and comes apart with no resistance. This usually takes about 2 hours. Reserve pork broth. Pull meat apart into chunks and refrigerate until ready to use.

While the meat is cooking, clean dried chilies by removing the tops and discarding the seeds. Place pods into a bath of water and soak for a few minutes. While pods are soaking, fill a large pot halfway with water. Place your clean chili pods in the water and push them down until the water covers all. Bring to a boil and then simmer 34 to 45 minutes. When done, remove from heat.

Transfer small bunches of the tender chili pods to a blender and blend on high until the pods turn to a liquid mixture. (The seed and skins will make the mixture seem a little chunky but that will be removed in a food mill.) Pour the chili sauce into a food mill which should be attached to a bowl or saucepan. Run the sauce through the mill until no more liquid is left in the top of the mill. Discard the leftover seeds and skin. Repeat this process for the remaining chili sauce until all of it has been run through the food mill. Next, add the ground cumin to the chili sauce. This sauce uses quite a bit of salt; add small amounts at a time, to taste.

Once chili sauce is properly seasoned, add pork to the chili sauce. Stir until thoroughly mixed. No need to heat, just put the mixture in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Open packages of cornhusks and remove the silk from each husk. Place cornhusks into a sink filled with warm water. Let the husks soak for about 3 minutes. Remove the husks from the water and place on a cookie sheet and cover with damp towel to keep moist.

Prepare masa according to the directions on the package, or buy premade masa, available at specialty ethnic food stores. Also try calling a Mexican restaurant, they may make it for you. To soften up the masa before you work with it, add approximately 2 cups of the reserved pork broth.

Once softened, divide masa into deep bowls amongst the people helping. Press masa flat, down into the bowl, creating a flat surface. Take 1 cornhusk and lay it flat, add a large dollop of the masa onto the husk. Spread the masa out onto the leaf with the back of a spoon to create a thin paste like coverage, being sure to leave no holes. Place 2 tablespoons of the chili sauce/pork mixture onto the masa. (It?s best to keep a bowl of the sauce next to you at all times.) Fold the tamale bringing two sides together so that they slightly overlap, then fold the bottom up over the folded sides. Press down slightly on top of tamale while holding everything in place and the masa will act as a glue to seal the filling.

Place tamales standing upright into a large double steamer. Steam for 2 hours. Remove tamales from steamer and let stand about 5 minutes. Pull off husk and eat. If desired, tamales may be frozen in plastic storage bags. To steam frozen tamales, just add 1 hour to the cooking time.


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    very good...lots of work...but tamales are worth it. very good recipe and mode of assembly and cooking
    My family including aunts, uncles, and cousins would make tamales as gifts at Christmas. The whole family was involved. As a kid my job was to help make the masa and spread on the husks. As I got older my jobs increased to include making the filling. We made over 100 dozen, which takes more than one day. It was a yearly tradition, that we as the "old ones" keep alive today. The recipe is simple to make and doesn't require much skill. It's time consuming but well worth the effort. As a footnote, my mother's maiden name is Meza. She is also an L. A. native. Thanks Christal for sharing this recipe as it brings back fond memories of my childhood.
    I loved this recipe, it seemed more authentic instead of "Americanized" (as my daughter puts it) lol. I made them big, because I love fat tamales, not little skinny ones. I also added some red sauce to the masa dough, just a little though, to flavor it a little more. I made christmas shopping money from selling tamales, plus still had more then enough for my family to enjoy for a few nights. I made little package bundles to feed 3 people at a time for tamale night at my house. Plus still had some left over for snackin time when the kiddos came home from school every day and wanted that junk food cookie, or cake. I would heat them up a few tamales, and they loved them even more then the sugary crud snacks. I recommend this recipe to everyone, and good luck.
    This recipe was the easiest one I could find that didn't skimp, or use canned items. I have never made tamales before and have never seen them made but when I fixed these last year for the first time I got complements from everyone! Even my Mexican friends said it was the best they've had and their wives agreed! I say give this one a shot. Thank you La Habra. (I'm an LA area girl myself ;)
    I've made tamales before, but pulled this recipe to remember all of the details. Everyone loved it and you can make it more or less spicy depending on who you are serving it to.
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