Monday, January 9, 2012

Pulled Pork Tamales with Chili

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I should call this recipe "lard - free tamales."  I have only eaten a tamale once before when we picked some up from the River Market Farmers market.  In the middle of eating one, Jereme stopped and put his fork down.  He said he remembered seeing someone on Food Network making tamales with lard.  What?!  I immediately googled tamale recipes.  Almost every one of them were made with lard.  This did not fit in with our choice of living a healthy lifestyle...  We threw them away.

Recently, I've become more interested in cooking Mexican food.  I was not a big fan before.  So here's my confession.  Those tamales on the Hormel can were starting to look really good to me for some reason.  I was craving tamales, so I decided to find some recipes that used canola oil.  They were a little hard to find.  And I was a little nervous that they wouldn't be as good as the ones made with lard.
I found some Maseca masa mix at El Torito, the closest Mexican grocer to me - on Bowman in the same shopping center as Hallmark.  Kroger Marketplace also carries regular masa harina in the International aisle. 

I usually always use coarse kosher salt when cooking.  But when mixing, I use all natural sea salt.  I think it's pretty.  When it comes to salt - and sugar - we try to only stock our pantry with the unrefined variety.  The refined types have been treated with chemicals, and they've been stripped of the good minerals and nutrients.  In our home, we use natural cane turbinado sugar, organic agave nectar, or Truvia.  The kids love the Truvia jingle.  It really stuck with them!
Once the dry ingredients are mixed, the wet ingredients are added.  That would be canola oil and chicken broth.  The resulting texture is like a wet cookie batter.
To start wrapping the tamales in corn husks, prepare a large Dutch oven by adding 20 oz. of water to the bottom, then place the steamer insert over the water, making sure that there's no water above the insert.

Tear a thin strip off the side of the corn husk to tie it together once wrapped.  Then place some of the masa mix in the center.  You can use the palm of your hand to press the dough and spread it.  Next, top the dough with the meat mixture.
To roll, place the left and right sides together to join the dough inside.  Then continue to roll the outer husk in one direction.  Tuck the bottom part of the husk up.  Tie it with the torn husk, and place on top of the steamer insert, careful not to let the insert tilt. 
This recipe makes about 16 tamales, which may vary depending on how much filling you use, and how much room you have in your Dutch oven or stock pot.
The tamales are also delicious just topped with fontina or other white meltable cheese like monterey jack.  This is a great 2 day recipe.  On day one, you prepare the pork filling, then finish the rest the next day.  I was just fortunate that my husband had made a big pot of chili for the Cotton Bowl watch party - way to go Razorbacks!  And Natalie, don't be mad!  Sorry we beat K State!  You know I love you!  XOXO

For the pork filling you need:
  • 3 lbs. pork shoulder, netted
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 7 oz. can of diced green chilis
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom with Roasted Garlic soup
  1. Marinate the pork shoulder by mixing the chili powder, cumin, paprika, and garlic powder with the white wine vinegar.  Pour over the pork in a large Ziploc bag and seal overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Prior to cooking, remove from the pork roast from the refrigerator for one hour to rest on the counter.
  3. Add it to a slow cooker, add a can of diced green chilis and the mushroom soup to the top, and let it cook for 6 hours on low. 
  4. Let it cool.  Cut the netting off, shred the meat, and return it to the pot.  Refrigerate overnight.
For the tamale dough you need:
  • 4 cups of Maseca tamale mix or masa harina
  • 18 corn husks
  • 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup of canola oil
To prepare the tamales to be steamed:
  1. Take the refrigerated pork filling out, and reheat.
  2. Soak the corn husks in hot water for 30 minutes.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients gently with a fork:  masa, baking powder, salt, and garlic.
  4. Add the cup of canola oil, and mix.  I used a spatula with a short handle and wide bottom from my old rice cooker.
  5. Heat the chicken broth in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Then slowly add to the masa mixture 1/2 cup at a time.  Gently mix the batter each time, letting the broth absorb.
  6. Pour 20 oz. of water into the bottom of your stock pot or Dutch oven.  Place the steamer insert over it, making sure that there's no water above the insert.
  7. Lay the corn husk on a plate.  Put a spoonful of masa mixture down, and pat with the palm of your hand to flatten out into the center, leaving room at the top and bottom.
  8. Place the pulled pork in the center.  Roll the left and right sides together to make the edges of dough touch, then continue to roll both sides of the husk in one direction to close it.
  9. Fold the bottom half up, then tie with the loose husk strings.    
  10. Heat the pot on high until it reaches a rolling boil, cover with the lid, and reduce heat to low.  Steam for an hour and fifteen minutes.
  11. Remove the tamales with tongs.  Let them rest on the counter for about 10 minutes - they'll be easier to handle, and easier to peel without sticking to the husk.
  12. Top with optional toppings: chili, shredded fontina cheese, cilantro, julienned radish.

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