Don’t you just love recipes that surprise you? I think that the more we cook, the better we get at anticipating flavours; but once in a while we come across a recipe that just floors us! You know, when your taste buds stutter, “Where the heck did that come from?”
Well, as you might have guessed, this recipe completely floored me. The carnitas are a melt-in-your-mouth explosion of flavour. Encased in the rich, earthy roasted corn masa dough, every bite is a bit of Mexican heaven! Now, I haven’t even begun to tell you how the the sweet, spicy, fruity Manchamantel sauce brightens up every mouthful, but you will just have to make the recipe for yourself. I only have one regret, and that is, that it only made 7 tamales! The next time, I will double or triple the recipe – it is that amazing.
I found the recipe in, “Tamales”, by Mark Miller, Stephan Pyles and John Sedlar. If you can find a copy of the cookbook, I highly recommend that you grab one. There is not a better source for creative twists on this humble Mexican treat.
I will be bringing these festive treats over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday, where I hope they get passed over, so I can take them back home again for myself…kidding! I hope everyone there loves them as much as my husband and I did! Please come and join the very best virtual blog party on the blogosphere. We’d love to see you there!
Pork Carnitas Tamales with Manchamantel Sauce
1 ¼ pounds pork butt, cut into ½ inch dice
4 cups water
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon anise seeds
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Roasted Corn Tamale Masa Dough (see below)
10 large dried corn husks, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
one recipe Manchamantel Sauce (see below)
Place all of the carnitas ingredients except the dough and corn husks in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low for about 1 hour, until pork is very tender, and the liquid has evaporated. Fry the cooked pork in the residual fat, over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes until browned. Set aside and let cool.
Prepare the masa dough.
Drain the corn husks and shake dry. Tear 8 strips, about ¼ inch wide from 2 of the husks and set aside for tying the tamales.
Lay out the remaining 8 corn husks on a flat work surface. Measure out a ¼ cup portion of masa dough. Place the dough inside each corn husk and flatten to ¼ inch thick, leaving about 1 ½ inches of exposed corn husk on each end and ¾ inch on each side. Place about 2 heaping tablespoons of the carnitas in the centre of the masa.
Bring the sides of the corn husk together, folding the dough over the filling. Fold up the bottom edge of the husk, over the masa bundle. Fold one edge of the husk over the masa and roll until the masa is enclosed in the husk. Twist the top end and tie with the reserved strip of husk.
Fill the bottom of a steamer with 2 – 3 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil and place the tamales in the steamer. Cover tightly with foil and a lid, so that no steam escapes while cooking. Steam the tamales for 30 – 35 minutes over lightly boiling water, adding more boiling water as needed. The tamales are done when they feel firm to the touch, but are not hard and the dough comes away easily from the husk. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
While the tamales are steaming, prepare the sauce. Ladle the sauce onto serving plates and place the tamales on top of the sauce. With a knife, open the top of the tamale wrappers from end to end.
Roasted Corn Tamale Masa Dough
1 ½ cups masa harina
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup vegetable shortening at room temperature
¾ cup warm water
1 cup roasted corn kernels (see below)
1 serrano chile, seeds and ribs removed
Place the masa harina, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and shortening and beat for 3 minutes until thoroughly incorporated. Add the water and beat for 2 minutes longer; stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula if necessary. Add the roasted corn kernels and Serrano and beat for about 1 minute longer, until incorporated. Take the masa dough out of the bowl and wrap in plastic wrap. Let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature so the dough can absorb the moist ingredients.
Roasting corn gives it a smoky quality that enhances its flavour.
Cut the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife being careful not to cut too deeply into the cob. Heat a dry skillet over high heat for 3-4 minutes. When hot, add the corn in a single layer. Roast for 3 to 4 minutes, tossing after 2 minutes, until dark.
This sauce translates as “tablecloth stainer” and is a classic sauce from central Mexico. It pairs perfectly with the spicy pork because of its sweet, fruity undertones. Use the leftovers on chicken, sandwiches, egg dishes or whatever you please.
5 dried ancho chiles, seeded and toasted and rehydrated in very hot water
2 dried New Mexico chiles, seeded, toasted and rehydrated in very hot water
1 Roma tomato, blackened (under a broiler)
1 clove roasted garlic
¾ cup fresh pineapple
1 overripe banana, chopped
½ green apple, peeled and chopped
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
pinch of ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon salt
½ tablespoon brown sugar
1 ½ cups unsweetened pineapple juice
1 tablespoon peanut oil
Place the rehydrated chiles in a food processor or blender and add the remaining ingredients except for the peanut oil. Purée until smooth.
Heat the oil in a large skillet until very hot. Add the sauce and fry at a sizzle for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly.