Spicy Pork Delta Tamales

Classic Delta hot tamales are typically made with cornmeal, but we used finely ground masa flour for a more tender base for our spicy pork filling.

Spicy Pork Delta Tamales
Yields: 24
  • 1 (2-pound) boneless pork butt
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 15 dried ancho chiles
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 24 dried corn husks, soaked in hot water until softened
  • Traditional Masa (recipe follows)
  • 2 quarts warm chicken broth
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Hot sauce and saltine crackers, to serve
Traditional Masa
  • ¾ cup lard or all-vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups instant corn masa flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups warm chicken or beef broth
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Place pork butt in a large Dutch oven. Rub pork with salt and red pepper.
  3. In the container of a blender, blend together chiles and 1 cup hot water; let stand for 15 minutes. Add vinegar, and blend until smooth. Pour mixture over pork to coat. Add garlic. Cover with lid.
  4. Bake for 3 hours. Remove from oven, and let stand, covered, for 30 minutes. Trim excess fat. Refrigerate overnight.
  5. Finely chop meat mixture, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. Remove a corn husk from hot water, pat dry, and lay on a work surface. Spread ¼ cup Traditional Masa into a 5×4½-inch rectangle on widest end of husk. Spread about 2 tablespoons pork mixture down center of masa. Fold sides of husk over filling, letting masa peel from husk; press masa together, covering filling. Roll into a log. Fold narrow end of husk over open seam, and secure with a strip of softened corn husk or kitchen twine. Repeat with remaining husks, remaining Traditional Masa, and remaining pork mixture.
  7. In a medium Dutch oven, whisk together warm broth, tomato sauce, and chili powder until smooth. Stand tamales in prepared broth mixture, open end up. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until tamales are puffed and firm, about 45 minutes, adding water if needed to keep liquid ¼ to ½ inch from top of husks. (Do not cover tamales with liquid. Check occasionally and adjust heat if necessary to ensure liquid does not come to a boil.) Serve with hot sauce and saltine crackers.
Traditional Masa
  1. In a large bowl, beat lard with a mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add masa, baking powder, and salt, beating until combined. Add warm broth, beating until fully incorporated. Transfer to a large bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and use within 3 hours.