How to Make Cuban Tamales

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Unlike traditional Latin culture, Cuban’s enjoy tamales throughout the entire year without a need for a celebration or family gathering. A variety of tamale recipes exits, but Cuban tamales have their own distinct taste. Typically made with pork, the corn husk wrapped tamales have a milder taste. A lot of preparation time goes into make tamales, but the tamales are well worth the wait. After preparation, the tamales can be stored in the freezer to enjoy later.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 ½ lbs. pork
  • Water
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar
  • 3 cups fresh corn
  • ¾-cup butter
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 2 ½ cups masa harina
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 1 chopped green pepper
  • 5 minced garlic cloves
  • 3 oz. tomato paste
  • ½-cup warm water
  • 1 juiced lemon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • Corn-husks
  • Butcher’s string
  • Use pork with plenty of fat such as country style pork ribs. Cut the pork into small pieces at least 2 inches thick and 3 inches long.

  • Place the pork in a large saucepan. Add enough water to cover the meat. Place two peeled garlic cloves and 1 tbsp. of vinegar into the saucepan.

  • Put the saucepan on the stove-top under high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat to allow it to simmer. Allow the mixture to simmer until all the water boils away. Continue to fry the pork until brown but not crispy.

  • Remove the pork from the saucepan. Trim off excess fat with a knife, and break the pork up into small pieces.

  • Add the corn to a food processor with butter. Blend until the corn creates a coarse mixture with visible corn kernels. Try not to blend the corn too long or it will become mushy.

  • Remove the corn from the processor. Add 2 ½ cups chicken broth and 2 cups of masa harina to the ground corn. A mixture made with corn meal and lime, you can purchase masa harina at your local specialty grocery store.

  • Place olive oil in a saucepan. Add just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. One the oil begins sizzling, add the chopped onion, minced garlic and green peppers. Cook until the onions and peppers become soft.

  • Add the tomato paste and ½-cup warm water to the frying pan. Simmer the mixture for 10 minutes.

  • Add the pork, vegetables and corn mixture into a large cooking pot. Add the lemon juice and blend the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook the entire mixture on low heat until it thicken, which typically occurs after 20 minutes. Add broth to keep the mixture pliable, but make sure that it stays stiff.

  • Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool.

  • Soak the corn husks in warm water for 30 minutes. Remove two corn husks and overlap them on a flat surface. Place the corn mixture in the center of the corn husks.

  • Fold the corn husks over the filling using a short fold with top and bottom ends. Fold the husks over the long way from the ends until the two sides meet in the center and cover the short folds. Tie the Cuban tamale with butcher’s string.

  • Place 2 inches of water in the bottom of a pot. Stand the tamales up in the pot and cover it with a lid. Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce the heat to allow them to steam for 2 hours. Do not let the water dry up completely in the pot.

  • Consume the tamales immediately. Store any extra tamales in the freezer.

References

  • Photo Credit Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images
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