Author's Notes: They're a labor of love, but they're worth it. (Adapted from 'The Gourmet Mexican Kitchen - A Cookbook: Bold Flavors for the Home Chef').

Red Chile Pork Tamales Print Recipe

Makes about 24-30 • Ready approximately in 5hr


Pork Filling:
  • 5 Lb. Pork Shoulder
  • 1 Tbs. Canola oil, plus more for coating pork
  • 4 Tbs. plus 1 Tsp. Salt**
  • 2 Tbs. Chipotle Powder**
  • 14 Dried Guajillo Chiles, seeded & stemmed
  • 6 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Tsp. Ground Cumin**
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Cups Lard or Shortening
  • 4 Cups Masa Harina
  • 6 Tsp. Baking Powder
  • 2 Tsp. Salt**
  • 4 cups Reserved Broth
Salsa Roja - Warm Tomato, Garlic and Serrano Chile Salsa:
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, dry roasted and peeled
  • 3 Fresh Serrano Chiles, dry roasted and stemmed
  • 8 Fresh Roma tomatoes, dry roasted
  • 2 Tbs. Canola Oil
  • Salt to taste**


  1. Preheat oven to 275˚F
  2. Thoroughly rinse the pork shoulder with cool water and pat dry with clean paper towels. Rub all sides with canola oil. Combine 4 tbsp. of the salt with the chipotle powder & rub the mixture all over the pork. Set aside and let it rest at room temperature for an hour -- no longer. Resting for more than an hour will cause the salt to pull the moisture from the meat and make it tough. After resting, place the pork in a deep roasting pan with the fat side down. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid or double layer of aluminum foil. Place the pan in the preheated oven and cook for approximately 3 ½ to 4 hours, until the pork falls apart when pressed with the back of a fork and reaches an internal temperature of 195 degrees. Remove from the oven and let rest covered for 30 minutes.
  3. Using two forks, pull the pork into long strands. Resist the temptation to chop the pork into chunks. Strain the broth and reserve 4 cups of the pan drippings. Meanwhile, heat a medium-size cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, cook the chiles for approximately 30 seconds per side, until they are slightly toasty. Be careful not to over-toast and turn black, as this will make the sauce bitter. Remove the toasted chiles from the pan and place in a bowl. Cover and completely submerge them in hot water and set aside for 30 minutes to rehydrate. After 30 minutes, remove the rehydrated chiles from the water with slotted spoon and place them in a blender. Discard the soaking liquid. Add the garlic, cumin, remaining 1 tsp. salt and water to blender. Puree until the mixture forms a smooth paste.
  4. Heat the 1 tbsp. canola oil in a heavy, large stockpot over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot and begins to shimmer, pour the red chile sauce into the pan and stir immediately. Be careful, as the sauce will spatter. Fry the sauce for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens and begins to darken. Add the reserved 4 cups of pork drippings and the pulled pork. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly before preparing the tamales.
  5. Beat all ingredients in large mixer on low speed, scraping the bowl constantly, until mixture forms a smooth paste. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.
Assembling Tamales:
  1. Fill a large stockpot one-quarter of the way with warm water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Roughly separate the corn husks and place in a large bowl or your sink and completely submerge in warm water. Allow the husks to soak for at least 30 minutes until they become relatively soft and pliable. Remove the husks from the water, separate completely and pat dry with a clean paper towel. Place a large corn husk on a clean flat surface with the shortest side facing you. Spoon approximately 1/4 cup of masa dough on the upper center of the husk and, using a butter knife or the back of the spoon, spread into a square shape across the width of the husk to approximately ½ inch thick. Be sure to leave approximately ½ inch on the top and sides of the husks clean to allow for easier rolling. Spoon approximately 2 tbsp. of pork mixture in an even line along the center of the masa and gently fold the husk over widthwise to completely encase the filling and form a tight tube. Fold the bottom of the husk up toward the center of the tamale and tie with string. Be sure to leave the top of the husks open. Repeat the process.
To Cook the Tamales:
  1. Line a steamer basket with moistened corn husks. Place the prepared tamales upright with the open tops facing up in the steamer basket and top with additional corn husks. Cover the steamer basket with a tight-fitting lid and steam for 1 hour, until the batter separates easily from the husk. Turn off the heat and allow the tamales to rest in the basket for 30 minutes until they begin to firm up.
Dry roasting the salsa:
  1. + Fresh chiles (excluding poblanos) - heat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat and place the chiles in the pan to cook, turning often, until they are blackened on all sides.
  2. + Garlic - again heat cast iron pan to medium-high heat. Place individual cloves in pan (skin on) and cook for approximately 4 minutes per side, until they are blackened in spots. Let cool slightly before peeling.
  3. + Tomatoes - cast iron heated to medium-high heat. Place the whole tomato directly onto the hot pan. Cook, turning once, until blackened on all sides.
  4. Combine the dry roasted garlic cloves, Serrano chiles, and tomatoes in a blender or food processor and pulse 4-5 times until they are broken up and coarsely chopped. Heat the oil in a heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and begins to shimmer, pour the salsa into the pan and stir immediately. Be careful as the salsa will spatter.
  5. Fry the salsa for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly until it thickens and begins to darken. Salt to taste and serve warm.
**Available at LeRoux