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April 20, 2010


I had what I think of as an authentic tamale while working in Boulder, Colorado an unlikely spot in itself but these came out of a cooler from the backseat of a car. Around the same time every morning a husband and wife drove into the parking lot where I worked honking to alert us of their arrival. The choices were simple. Pork and green chili or chicken and red sauce, equally good. They also made breakfast burritos that went quickly. I wish they’d sold their idea to the fast food giants whose versions today don’t hold a candle to that couples hand crafted ones. Anywho, I gave tamale making a try when I learned I didn’t have to use lard. Sure lard makes the masa dough fluffy, but I just can’t do lard so I make mine with canola oil and broth and think they taste great.

This is definitely a weekend project so make sure to read the whole recipe so you can plan your time accordingly. I cook the pork shoulder over night or the previous day then make the green chili salsa and masa dough the next. For the red sauce I used a can of enchilada sauce which tastes great and is the easy way out. Once you and your friends taste these you’ll see how they are worth the effort.

Tomatillos are different from green tomatoes and can be found in many markets,

look for bright green fruit and green papery husks over browned ones. 

Peel paper-like husk, wash and chop tomatill0s


Roast poblano peppers. Peel, remove seeds and chop.


Cook  4 tomatillos, 1  roasted poblano pepper, 1/2  onion, 1/2 tsp coriander,

1/4 tsp oregano


Masa dough (Mix 4 cups masa harina, 2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup canola oil, 2  1/2 – 3 cups broth I used the strained broth from the slow cooked pork shoulder that has great flavor).


Put pork with green chili sauce in center of masa dough on a corn husk that has been soaked in warm water until pliable (about 2 hours).


Or pork with red sauce in center of masa (I cheated using canned enchilada sauce)

Fold one side toward the other until masa edges meet.

Fold ends in and tie with thin strips of corn husk

Set in large pan on steamer rack. Steam for 30-45 minutes.


To test for doneness remove one, unwrap and if the masa dough is firm and does not stick to the corn husk they are done. Tamales can be frozen and reheated in microwave or over steamer for about 20 minutes.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2010 7:40 am

    You make these look so easy!
    Maybe they will be my ambitious project for next week…

  2. April 20, 2010 8:00 am

    You’d be surprised how easy they are to make. They just take time but are so worth it!

  3. Debbie Martin permalink
    November 27, 2011 5:08 pm

    I have been wanting to try to make homemade tamales forever…these look delicious! Maybe over winter break I’ll find some extra time!

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