I’ve always wanted to learn to make pork tamales. So when I had the opportunity to cook with my wonderful friend Janet, I asked her if she would show me how they are made in her home country of Mexico. Before we started, she warned me that pork tamales are a labor of love: While certainly not a quick dish, they would be worth the work, she ensured me.
Many countries have their own version of pork tamales. Even in Mexico, tamales vary from place to place, family to family: Some wrap their pork tamales with corn husks, while others use banana leaves. Janet told me that where she is from in northern Mexico, corn husks are the preferred cooking sleeve, and she feels that they yield a tender, softer exterior. The fillings for tamales, too, are matter of preference. Some like to add refried beans or chicken to the masa dough, but for Janet’s family, the favorite is slow-cooked pork flavored with ancho chile. (And she uses any leftover pork to make tostadas or fill tacos).