The holidays haven’t begun until the Red Mole Pork Tamales are steaming on the stove!
This step-by-step recipe will walk you through exactly how to make the most luscious pork-and-mole-filled tamales for your family this Christmas.
Armando and I have been hosting Tamaladas (tamale-making parties) since our first year’s together and it is the BEST way to make tamales in my opinion.
You gather a few friends and family and spend an afternoon knocking out dozens of tamales which then everyone gets to take home.
A tamalada not only makes the time-consuming job of making tamales more fun, but stocking the freezer full of tamales at the same time!
Prep For a Tamalada
If you want to give this party idea a try here’s what you have to do:
- Make the pork and mole sauce a couple days in advance and then soak the corn husks the night before the party.
- The masa should be made the morning of the party.
- Ask guest to bring snacks and drinks and before you know it, the tamales will be steaming away.
What’s In A Red Mole Pork Tamale?
Before we dive in to how to make the tamales, let’s look at the recipes that make up the tamales. Here’s what you’ll need to have ready before you actually get to assembling them:
- Mole Coloradito or Red Mole Sauce. This is one of those labor-of-love recipes made with dried chiles, seeds, and a bit of chocolate.
- Shredded Pork. Succulent pork butt simmered until tender with onions, garlic, and bay leaf.
- Masa Dough. A fluffy dough made from masa harina, baking powder, lard and salt.
- Soaked Corn Husk Leaves. These are what you will use to wrap up your tamales.
I think these are the perfect tamales and ones I make every year.
They have all the elements of an authentic Mexican tamale—soft dough, juicy, flavorful pork, savory and complex sauce.
If you’ve ever wanted to try making mole sauce or tamales this recipe is a great place to start.
Wait—What Are Tamales?
Tamales are a dumpling of sorts made all throughout Mexico and Central America and even in parts of South America too, like Venezuela, where they are called Hallacas.
At their most basic they are dough (almost always made with a corn flour called masa harina wrapped in either dried corn husks or banana leaves and steamed.
They can be filled or not, sweet or savory, tiny or enormous.
Red Mole Pork Tamales
This recipe is very involved but most of the steps can be made ahead. If you break it up into chunks it’s not too bad. The pork and mole can be made up to 3 days in advance and the husks can soak overnight. Call some friends over to help you assemble; tamales taste better if they are made by those you love. A 15-Quart Tamale Steamer makes quick work of cooking the tamales. You can find them at most Mexican markets or online here. Tamales will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months. Reheat by placing in a frying pan with 1/4 cup or so of water, cover and steam until hot.
- Yield: 50 Tamales 1x
For the Pork:
- 4 pounds pork shoulder
- 2 large onions, quartered
- 8 cloves garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
For the Red Mole:
- 16 New Mexico Chiles, stem and seeds removed
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 8 unpeeled cloves garlic
- 2-inch piece canela or cinnamon stick
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tomatoes, cored
- 2 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 50 dried corn husks
For the Masa:
- 6 cups Maseca corn flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
- 5–6 cups pork cooking liquid
For the Pork:
- Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot. Cover by 2 inches with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer.
- Cover and cook until meat is very tender, about 3 hours. Remove pork from liquid and strain broth into a heatproof container; reserve broth. Let meat cool slightly, then shred into bite-sized pieces.
For the Mole:
- Heat a dry cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. Place chiles in the skillet and toast until darkened in color and fragrant (you may need to do this in batches).
- Place chiles and raisins in a large bowl and cover with hot water. Let soak for 30 minutes.
- Place onions and garlic in the dry skillet and char, turning occasionally, until darkened on all sides, about 10-15 minutes. Add canela to the skillet and toast until fragrant, about 2 minutes, remove and add pumpkin seeds. Toast until they begin to pop and darken.
- Finally add the tomatoes to the skillet and char on all sides until darkened and skin is cracked, about 10 minutes.
- After chiles and raisins have soaked, remove them from the water and place them in a blender (you might have to do a few chiles at a time depending on the strength of your blender) with a 1/4 cup or so of the pork cooking liquid. Blend until smooth, adding more liquid if necessary to get the blender moving. Pour through a fine mesh strainer and set aside.
- Add onions, garlic, canela, pumpkin seeds, oregano, salt, thyme, and pepper to the blender with about 1/4 cup of the pork cooking liquid. Blend, adding more liquid if necessary, until smooth. Strain into the bowl with the chile mixture.
- Peel the tomatoes and add to the blender. Puree until smooth. Strain into a separate bowl.
- Heat the lard in a large frying pan over medium heat. Once shimmering add the chile mixture (be careful, it will spurt and sputter) and stir constantly until darkened and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook 5-10 minutes more. Add chocolate and stir until melted. Taste and add more salt as needed. If the mole seems very thick add 1/4 cup or so of the pork stock, but not too much, the sauce should coat the back of a spoon, but not be clumpy.
- Cover the husks with hot water and let soak at least 2 hours before beginning. You may need to weigh them down to completely submerge in the water.
For the Masa:
- Combine Maseca, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add lard and work into the dry mixture with your hands until they are the size of small pebbles. Add cooking liquid and mix it into the flour with your hands until the dough is uniformly wet and soft. It needs to be easily spreadable but not runny, like the consistency of fluffy mashed potatoes. Add more cooking liquid if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.
- Fill a large tamale steamer with enough water to reach the rack where the tamales will sit. If you don’t have a tamale steamer you can fill the bottom of a large stock pot with water and place a wire rack in the bottom.
- Dry one corn husk on both sides with a clean kitchen towel. Hold the widest part of the husk closest to you and use a large soup spoon to spread about 1/3 cup of masa from about the middle to the bottom and out to the sides, leaving about 1/2-inch on each side (but not the bottom).
- Place about 2-3 tablespoons of meat in the center and top with about 1 tablespoon of sauce. Fold one clean side over the the other clean side and roll tightly to secure. Fold the pointy end up towards the top and place open-side-up on the rack of the steamer. Continue until all the masa and meat have been used.
- Place the steamer over medium heat and cook tamales until firm and no longer doughy in the middle, about 1-1 1/2 hours. Remove from husks and serve with salsa, extra mole, or guacamole.
One More Thing
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