Roasted Pork Tamales
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 30 40 tamales
  • 4-5 pounds pork shoulder
  • 15 dried Guajillo chiles (these are quite mild chiles, so if you want something a bit spicier, I suggest you go for it)
  • 6-8 cups hot water (for soaking the chiles in)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2½ teaspoons oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Salsa Verde
  • 1 pound fresh tomatillos (alternatively, you can use the pre-roasted tomatillos in a can)
  • 1 shallot (or ¼ an onion), peeled and cut in half
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2-3 jalapeno peppers (I used 2; if you like it spicy, use 3, if you like it mild, use 1)
  • a large handful of cilantro
  • juice of ½ a lime
  • ⅛ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1⅓ cup shortening
  • 4 cups masa mix (I used the Maseca brand, which I highly recommend - please note that this is not just corn flour, it is masa mix made from cornmeal)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 4 cups good quality broth (I used a stock that I made and froze from my Thanksgiving turkey, but you can use any high quality broth, such as beef broth, as long as it isn't low-sodium or anything like that. You want your masa to be full of FLAVOR!)
  • 60 dried corn husks (this is more than you need, but you will need extras for tying the tamales with and it's good to have some extras in case you mess up)
  • prepared masa (recipe above)
  • 4-5 pounds roasted pork (recipe above)
  • 2 cups salsa verde (recipe above - feel free to use store bought salsa if you're short on time)
  1. First, you need to rehydrate your chiles. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. Cut the stems off of your chiles, and shake out as many seeds as possible. Bake for 5-8 minutes, until the chiles are just beginning to blacken. Pick them up and shake out any remaining seeds (you don't have to get them all, don't worry), then place in a large bowl and cover with hot water (I just used the hottest water from my tap, but my tap gets pretty scalding hot) and cover with a paper towel. Let sit for 30 minutes or so, stirring halfway through to be sure that the chiles are all immersed in the water.
  2. When the chiles are ready, remove them with tongs and place them in a food processor or a blender, along with about 1½ cups of water that the chiles were soaking in, the peeled garlic, the oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper flakes, if you like (I didn't think my pork was spicy enough, but you can always add them after the pork is cooked, just to be safe). Pulse until you have a very smooth puree. Set aside.
  3. Remove any large bits of fat, skin, or bone from your pork (a little fat is fine, it's even encouraged, but you don't want big hunks of it messing up your delicious pork) and cut into pieces about the size of your hand. Place the pork in a sealable bag (you can use Tupperware, but I prefer a sealable bag, such as Ziploc, for even marinating and easy clean up) and pour in the chile marinade. Seal and shake to make sure that your pork is completely coated. Place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 8 hours, but 24 hours is preferred (I let mine sit for a full 24 hours).
  4. When the pork is ready, preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Place your pork and the rest of the marinade in a baking dish (I used a glass 9x13 baking dish) and cover tightly with foil (or a lid, if you're lucky enough to have an oven-safe one). Roast for 3½ - 4 hours, until tender. You shouldn't even need to shred this pork with two forks, you should just be able to pull it apart effortlessly with one fork. When ready, move the pork to a cutting board and leave the juices in the pan. Shred the pork, then chop it a bit, if you like. I chopped mine so that the tamales would be easier to eat later. Add in about half of the juices that are still in the pan and toss the pork in a large bowl. Add more if needed, and keep any remaining juices to add the pork as you assemble your tamales, just in case it starts to look a bit dried out to you (I did not need to do this, but better safe than sorry). Set aside until ready to use in the tamales, or you can store the pork in the fridge in Tupperware until you're ready to use it.
Salsa Verde
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. If you're using fresh tomatillos, peel them and rinse them under hot water to remove any stickiness. If you are using canned tomatillos, don't do anything with them yet. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and place the washed tomatillos on it. Alongside the tomatillos, place the peeled and cut in half shallot, the unpeeled garlic cloves, and the washed jalapeno pepper. Roast for 8-10 minutes in the oven, until the garlic is golden and the jalapeno peppers are just beginning to blacken. Remove the shallot, garlic, and jalapeno pepper and set aside. Continue to roast the tomatillos for another 5-8 minutes, until beginning to blacken on the bottom (lift one up to check). Remove from oven.
  2. Cut the tops off of your jalapeno peppers and peel your garlic. Place the peppers, shallot, and garlic in a food processor or blender, then add in the tomatillos, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse until smooth, taste, adjust seasonings as needed, and set aside until ready to use. You can make this salsa up to 3 days ahead and keep it in a sealed container in the fridge until ready to use. Makes about 2 cups of salsa.
  1. With an electric mixer, beat your shortening until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. In a separate large bowl, combine the masa mix, baking powder, and salt. Add the masa mixture to the shortening, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you beat it in to be sure that everything is combined evenly. Set aside until ready to use.
  1. Arrange all of the corn husks in the largest bowl or pan that you have (don't worry when they overlap, it's fine as long as they get wet) and cover completely with hot water (I, again, just used the hottest water from my tap). Place something heavy on top of the husks, such as two ceramic bowls (like I did, see the photo above) so that the husks are submerged and soaking for at least 30 minutes, but as long as two hours. Drain the water from the bowl (no need to thoroughly dry the husks) and set aside until ready to use.
  2. I found that it made things easier to assemble things on my kitchen table (see photo above). Set out your corn husks, your masa, your roasted pork, and your salsa verde. Pick out a sturdy corn husk (one without tears or holes) and, using a spatula or a large, flat spoon (I actually used the paddle from my rice maker and it worked really well), take about 2-3 tablespoons of masa. Start about an inch or two down from the top of the corn husk (the top being the skinny part), then spread the masa down the corn husk as evenly as you can (don't worry about perfection here, seriously). Look at the photos above for a guide.
  3. Now, add about 2-3 tablespoons of pork on top of the masa, followed by about 3 teaspoons of salsa on top of that. Fold or roll (whatever is easier for you) the tamale so that it is sealed, then fold in both ends of the corn husk. Alternatively, you can fold the tamale only on one side, leaving one end open (you can see how I did a few of these this way above). It works just as well, it just isn't as "pretty". Do what it easier for you!
  4. Use a corn husk that has a tear or hole in it for the strands to tie the tamale. Simply peel a strand of the husk from top to bottom, then secure the folded ends of the tamale by tying it around the ends. CAUTION: The strands will break every so often, but don't despair! Just keep going, I promise that it gets easier. Continue assembling the tamales this way until you have run out of pork or until you can't do any more (we saved a bit of pork for breakfast burritos this next day).
  5. Finally, you are ready to steam your tamales. If you have a steamer, great, but if you don't, there are two options. The first option is to use the tray from your rice cooker, as I did (see photos above). I simply placed the tray in the bottom of a large pot, filled it with about an inch of water, then laid a dish towel over it, to protect it from the water below (see photo above). I then filled the pot with as many tamales as I could fit, folded the ends of the towel in over the tamales, and sealed it with a lid. Your other option is to set a cooling rack into a 9x13 casserole dish (I did this as well since I had so many tamales, but forgot to take photos of it - it worked really well!), fill with about an inch of water, then set the tamales on top of the cooling rack and cover tightly with foil.
  6. If you are using a steamer or a make-shift stove-top steamer, cook over medium-low heat for 1 hour and 30 minutes. If you are using the cooling rack/casserole dish method, bake at 300 degrees F for 1 hour and 15 minutes. After the time is up, remove the cover, turn off the heat, and unwrap your delicious tamales! Serve with some of the leftover salsa on top. Makes 30-40 tamales.
Recipe by The Crepes of Wrath at