Handmade Pork Tamales



  • 5-8lbs pork shoulder
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 8-10 cloves smashed garlic
  • 2 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 15 dried chili guajillo
  • 8 dried chili ancho
  • 4 tbsp ground cumin
  • 4 tbsp Mexican oregano
  • 2 tbsp Handley Seasoning Blend
  • 6 lbs Tamale Masa (follow directions on package) we use MASECA brand Tamal Masa
  • 2 cups rendered pork fat
  • 2 16 ounce package dried corn husks
  • Heavy bottomed pot for steaming

Salsa Verde

  • 12 large tomatillos
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 8 fresh pasilla peppers
  • 1 cup chicken or veggie stock (optional; you may not need this)


Pork Tamales

If you are bothered by the capsaicin, responsible for the ‘hot’ in chilies, wear food-safe gloves to handle the chilies. De-seed by removing the stem and pull the seeds out with your fingers. Rinse chilies. Place chilies in a sauce pan with enough cold water to just cover; bring to a simmer until chilies are reconstituted. Remove from heat and let stand while you move onto the next step. Reserve water.

Peel garlic and smash. Clean and roughly chop your onions. Place garlic, onions, chilies, oregano, cumin and salt in blender with enough chili water to puree; eyeball this – you want just enough to make a thick sauce. Blend until smooth. Pour through a mesh strainer to remove seeds and skins.

Cut the pork shoulder into 2” chunks; don’t remove the fat. In a slow cooker layer your meat and sauce. Don’t overfill your slow cooker! It will bubble over as it cooks and create a hot mess. You may need to borrow another slow cooker to accommodate all of the meat and sauce. Cook on low setting overnight. The next day, spoon out the meat chunks with a slotted spoon and let sit until cool enough to handle. Pull apart to shred and mix with enough sauce to make it moist but not runny. Pour the remaining sauce into a container and refrigerate. Later, carefully spoon off the coagulated fat cap and reheat to use it for garnishing the tamales (or other Mexican delectables!).

Clean the corn husks by rinsing under warm water to remove any leftover dried corn silk. Soak in warm water while preparing the Masa. Husks need to be pliable in order not to tear during assembly. Prepare Masa as per directions on package, replacing the margarine with rendered pork fat. Remove pork from cooking liquid. Reserve liquid. Shred pork and place in a bowl for the assembly of the tamales. Once the corn husks are pliable, drain water.

Roll a piece of masa into a 1” ball. Set aside. Take one softened corn husk in your hand, with the wide end toward the tips of your fingers. Place the ball of masa in the upper middle of the corn husk and spread with your fingers, leaving space on either edge of the husk for rolling. Place meat down the center of masa. Roll from right to left in your hand till masa meets and husk has overlapped. Fold bottom end of husk upward. Place in steamer, standing, with open end facing upward. Continue to place tamales in steamer, making layers if needed. Repeat, repeat, repeat until you’ve run out of either masa or meat!

Steam on medium heat for one and a half hours; remember to not let your steamer run dry. To test, open a tamale and if the masa peels cleanly from the husk, they are ready.


Salsa Verde

Heat oven to 450 ̊. Remove papery jacket from tomatillos and rinse. Rinse peppers. Place on a baking sheet with onion and garlic. Roast until peppers char and tomatillos burst. Remove from oven.

Place peppers in a heat resistant bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let steam for 10-15 minutes; this will help to loosen the skins.

To remove the skins, gently pull skin from pepper flesh and open pepper to expose seeds. Remove seeds by wiping them out with your fingers.

Place cleaned peppers in blender. Add tomatillos, onion, garlic and skinless & seedless peppers. Blend to a thick consistency; you don’t want your salsa verde to be runny. Pour in a small amount of stock if needed to thin.


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