Making homemade tamales is quite an undertaking. These little bites give you that same combination of soft, steamy masa dough and rich filling. To shave off even more time, use cooked chorizo instead of making a pork filling. Masa harina is fresh corn dough that's been dried and ground into flour. Find it in the international aisle of your grocery store or at Latino markets. For the best flavor and lightest texture, get fresh lard (rather than shelf-stable hydrogenated lard) from a butcher shop or a Latino market.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 canned chipotle chile, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups masa harina*
2/3 cup fresh lard* or 0% trans fat shortening
1 cup low-sodium or homemade chicken stock
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 scant cup crumbled cotija cheese
1 lime, cut into wedges
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 375°. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and pork and cook, breaking meat up in pan, until pork is browned and slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes more. Stir in cumin, tomato paste, chipotle chile, 1/2 cup water, salt, and pepper and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, mix masa harina with 1 1/2 cups water until smooth, using your hands if needed. Using a mixer with the whisk attachment, whip lard first on low speed, then on high, until very fluffy, about 5 minutes. With mixer on low, gradually add masa harina in a few additions, beating well after each one and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add chicken stock and baking powder, mixing well on medium speed until dough is very smooth and pliable.
Spray 2 muffin pans with cooking spray. With wet hands, press about 3 tbsp. masa dough into each muffin cup to line it and form a well. Fill each cup with pork mixture, then bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool about 5 minutes, then remove from pan. Top with cheese, a squeeze of lime, some hot sauce, and cilantro.
*Masa harina is fresh corn dough that's been dried and ground into flour. Find it in the international aisle of your grocery store or at Latino markets. For the best flavor and lightest texture, get fresh lard (rather than shelf-stable hydrogenated lard) from a butcher shop or a Latino market.