Photo: Johnny Autry; Styling: Cindy Barr
Hands-on Time
1 Hour
Total Time
4 Hours 15 Mins
Serves 14 (serving size: 2 tamales and about 2 1/2 teaspoons crema)

For gift-giving, assemble and steam tamales. Cool and freeze, wrapped in husks, in an airtight container. Give frozen to loved ones with a note about reheating. No need to thaw: Steam briefly, just until heated, or wrap in a damp cloth and microwave.

How to Make It

Step 1

To prepare crema, combine the first 6 ingredients; chill.

Step 2

Preheat oven to 300°.

Step 3

To prepare filling, heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil, and swirl to coat. Sprinkle pork evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add pork to pan; sauté 10 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove pork from pan. Add onion and garlic to pan, and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cumin and chipotle chiles; sauté for 1 minute. Stir in 1 cup stock and the next 3 ingredients (through coffee); bring to a boil. Return pork to pan; cover. Bake at 300° for 3 hours or until pork is fork-tender. Remove pork from pan, and let stand 10 minutes. Shred pork. Return pork to sauce.

Step 4

Increase the oven temperature to 450°.

Step 5

To prepare masa, combine 2 1/2 cups stock and ancho chiles in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH for 2 minutes or until chiles are tender; cool slightly. Remove stems from chiles. Combine hot stock, chiles, and corn in a blender; process until smooth. Combine masa harina, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and baking powder, stirring well with a whisk. Cut in lard with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ancho mixture to masa mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead dough until smooth and pliable. (If dough is crumbly, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until moist.)

Step 6

To prepare tamales, immerse corn husks in water; weight with a plate. Soak 30 minutes; drain.

Step 7

Working with one husk at a time (or overlap 2 small husks), place about 3 tablespoons masa mixture in the center of husk, about 1 inch from top of husk; press dough into a 4-inch-long by 3-inch-wide rectangle. Spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon pork mixture down one side of dough. Using the corn husk as your guide, fold husk over tamale, being sure to cover filling with dough. Use husk to seal masa around filling. Tear 3 or 4 corn husks lengthwise into strips; tie ends of tamale with strips. Place tamale, seam side down, on the rack of a broiler pan lined with a damp towel. Repeat procedure with remaining husks, masa mixture, and pork mixture. Cover tamales with a damp towel. Pour 2 cups hot water in the bottom of a broiler pan; top with rack.

Step 8

Steam tamales at 450° for 25 minutes. Remove and rewet top towel, and add 1 cup water to pan. Turn tamales over; top with cloth. Bake for 20 minutes or until set. Let tamales stand 10 minutes. Serve tamales with crema.

Ratings & Reviews

vlmf23's Review

June 10, 2014
I loved these! I had never made tamales before and was a bit nervous about making them as I am not the best cook in the world. They have turned out great both times I have made them and am making them again tomorrow. They do take awhile, but are well worth it. I also love the fact that they freeze really well- just take them out of the freezer and let them thaw overnight and pop them in a microwave the next day. I put a tiny bit of water in the bottom of the dish and cover them with a damp paper towel to heat them up. They taste wonderful!

wonderwab's Review

December 15, 2012
Ugh. These do have potential- I love the idea of giving tamales as gifts, as I grew up in Texas and was used to getting them during the holidays. However, these do not taste like legit tamales. A few other things about this recipe: you need to use 2 Tb, not 3, to make it to 28 tamales. Also, it takes about 5 hours total to put these together, and that includes the pork cooking quicker. The final product was bland, the masa mix dense. The crema is definitely needed, it was delicious!

mwood2278's Review

December 04, 2012
Just made these tonight. I've never made Tamales so I was excited to try a lighter version (the lard usually scares me away). I also made a corn husk doll with the leftover corn husk :)

JoyPoos's Review

January 12, 2013
These were great and it was my first attempt at making tamales. One word of caution: I used a damp towel over my tamales as instructed and my towel was singed at the end of the first steaming before turning them over. I am very hesitant to use the same method of steaming again because of the high heat and the towel episode. My towel was very damp and it did not stay in the oven any longer than stated. The tamales, however, were great and I'll make them again but not use the same method of steaming.

scmrak's Review

December 24, 2012

JoeHendricks's Review

September 28, 2013
Awesome recipe! I swapped egg white for the lard and some vegetables for the meat.

hobinrall1's Review

December 05, 2012
I have made tamales multiple times, and these were the (relative) easiest and best tasting. We added some green chiles with the pork for the 2nd half of the batch. The ratio of masa to meat was perfect!

wellfed59's Review

February 12, 2013