Pork Tamales


  • 2 1/2 lbs pork shoulder trimmed of fat and diced
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 medium onion quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup lard
  • 1/3 - ½ cup chili powder
  • ½ tablespoon for the dough, depending on your spice tolerance
  • 4 cups masa harina
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 30 corn husks dried, about 8 inches long


The filling:

  • Place the pork in a deep saucepan along with the cold water. Add onion, chili powder, garlic and salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 hours, until the pork is very tender.
  • Remove the meat from the broth. Strain the broth and reserve (allow the broth to cool if you want to remove the fat; if that’s not important to you, keep it warm for tastier tamales). Allow the meat to cool and shred using two forks.

Mama Lola’s Corn husks (Hojas)

  • Soak the corn husks in a bowl of hot water, using a plate to keep them submerged, until pliable, for approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Rinse to remove any corn silk and drain well. Reserve.

The Mama Lola’s masa (dough)

  • Mix the lard (room temperature) with the baking powder, the ½ tablespoon chili powder and two teaspoons of salt. Slowly, alternate mixing in the masa harina, with 2 cups of the reserved broth. The result should be a thick, creamy paste.


  • Starting 1/2 inch from the wide end, spread about 3 tablespoons of the dough down each husk. Leave a 1-inch border on the sides. If the husks are small, use two so the tamales do not fall apart.
  • Spoon 1 tablespoon of the pork filling down the center of the dough, then fold in the sides of the husk, wrapping the dough around the filling.
  • Fold up the narrow end of the husk. Repeat to create the rest of the tamales.
  • Set the steamer in a large pot filled with 2 inches of water. Arrange the tamales standing up in the steamer, folded-side down. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, and steam until the dough is firm, 45 to 50 minutes. Add water when necessary.
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