Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Pork Carnitas Tamal with Salsa Verde

Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour, 45 Minutes
Servings: 4-5 servings
Why wait for the holidays to enjoy tamales? These pork carnitas tamales can be on your dinner table this week! This delicious oversized pork tamal garnished with fresh salsa verde will soon become a family tradition.

Are you ready for tamal season? I am jumping into the new season with this recipe for pork carnitas tamal to start! And you can't have a pork carnitas tamal without also a freshly prepared salsa verde. Tamales are another one of those recipes that people shy away from because they have a reputation of being labor intensive. They can be, especially if you are preparing 10 pounds of pork! Here I share with you a much easier tamal recipe that you can prepare on your own. It does require some preparation ahead of time for the pork carnitas. Once you have the carnitas, the recipe comes together fairly quick.


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To Start
  1. First thing, place the corn husks in a deep container and cover with boiling water. Let them soak while you prep the other ingredients.
For the Masa
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the pork manteca or vegetable shortening. Using the attachment for whipping, whip the manteca on high for a few minutes. Add the baking powder, salt, chile ancho and masa harina. Whip on low until all the masa harina is incorporated.
  2. With the mixer on low speed, gradually mix in the hot chicken broth a little at a time. Once it's all added, turn the speed to medium and mix for 3-4 minutes. Taste the masa for salt. Cover and set aside.
For the Salsa Verde
  1. Place the tomatillos, serranos and onion on a comal (griddle) that has been preheated for a few minutes to medium heat. Dry-roast your salsa ingredients, turning as needed, for 20 minutes or until most sides have blackened. If the tomatillos begin to burst open, remove them from heat and place into a bowl.
  2. Once salsa ingredients are ready, transfer to the blender. Add the cilantro, garlic, 1/3 cup of water and salt to taste. Blend on high until smooth. Transfer salsa to a bowl. Set aside.
Assembling and Cooking Tamales
  1. Set up your tamal ingredients and get ready to assemble. These will be big tamales. Add water to the bottom of the pot and add the steamer pot that goes inside.
  2. Shake off excess moisture from the corn husk. To the center of each corn husk, spread some masa to cover and resemble a 5x6 rectangle. This will require 1/3 cup of masa, more or less. To the center of the masa, add 3 tablespoons of pork carnitas. Spoon on 2 tablespoons of salsa on top of the pork. Add a jalapeño strip. Fold in the sides and then fold top flap down. Repeat until you have 8-10 large tamales. If you have meat left, gently push it into the opening of the tamal.
  3. Place tamales, open side up, in steamer pot close together so they help each other stand up. In the empty space of the pot, add the extra corn husk. This will add extra support and great flavor to the tamales. If you have extra corn husk, place them on top to cover.
  4. Cover with lid and heat to high. Once it begins to steam rapidly, lower to medium heat and continue steaming for 90 minutes. Keep a saucepan of warm water on the other burner so you can add a little more water every 30 minutes. After 90 minutes, remove pot from heat and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Serve tamales with extra salsa verde and crushed chile piquin.

Chef Notes

Place a penny into the bottom of steamer pot when cooking tamales. The penny will make a rattling noise. This indicates that you still have water in the pot. When it stops rattling, this means you have run out of water. You never want to run out of hot water while steaming foods. No steamer pot? No problem! Any large, deep pot can be used to steam tamales. Purchase an inexpensive metal expandable steamer that fits down into the pot. Steam as directed, keeping a warm saucepan of water available to replenish the water when needed.

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