Soak corn husks overnight in hot water or do it on the same day before making the tamales for about 1 ½ to 2 hours to make it pliable. Wipe and dry with a paper towel before using.
If lower sides of corn husk is too wide, trim both lower sides. I usually trim the curling part.
Make Pork Filling
Trim some of the pork fat. Leave some as it add flavor and trim it later.
Place pork in instant pot with 4 cups of water, red onion, garlic, bay leaves, chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, salt and ground black pepper. You can also add poblano pepper to add some kick. Remove seeds if you don't like it hot.
Cover instant pot with lid and turn knob to “SEALING”.
Set PRESSURE COOK to HIGH for 65 minutes.
When done, wait of natural pressure release (NPR).
Turn knob to “VENTING”.
Let it cool then remove pork. Pork should be fork tender. Use 2 forks and pull apart or shred like pulled pork. Set aside.
Strain pork broth from other ingredients. Reserved ingredients will be used with pureed Chili Colorado. Set aside.
Make Chili Colorado Sauce (red chili sauce)
Cut dried hot peppers in half, remove seeds and veins and cut into smaller pieces (2 in X 2 in).
Place in a small pot with 2 cups water. Simmer for 10 minutes to hydrate peppers.
Turn off heat with lid on for about 30 minutes.
Place hot peppers and 1 cup liquid from hot peppers and reserved ingredients from boiling pork. Puree. Consistency is like tomato sauce. Note: Don't discard the remaining liquid from the hot peppers, you might need more than 1 cup.
Strain to remove solids and skin from hot peppers.
Note: Reserve ½ cup of sauce to use in the masa dough.
Combine Chili Colorado Sauce and Pulled Pork
In a hot skillet with oil over medium heat, pour Chili Colorado sauce (red chili sauce) about 1 ½ cups and bring to a simmer. Add pulled pork until well combined.
Lower heat to medium-low until sauce is reduced.
Turn off heat. Set aside to cool.
Make Masa Dough or Masa Harina
Melt lard in a small pot over medium heat. Do this ½ an hour to an hour before making the masa dough and let it cool.
In a stand mixer, add the Maseca masa harina (flour).
Add cumin, baking powder and salt. Beat at low (#1 Kitchen Aid) to combine ingredients.
Pour ½ of pork broth, ½ of lard and Chili Colorado sauce.
Beat at low (#2 Kitchen Aid) until well combined. At this point masa dough is lumpy.
Alternately add a little bit of the remaining pork broth and lard. Beat at low (#3 Kitchen Aid). If dough is still dry, add more pork broth. Note: If you use a fattier meat, pork broth will be fattier too and you might not need all the lard.
Masa dough should have the consistency of creamy peanut butter or hummus, not runny nor too thick.
To test if dough is ready, take a cup of cold water and ½ teaspoon of masa dough. If it floats to the top, dough is ready. If it sinks to the bottom, add more lard. Repeat this process until dough floats to the top.
Place masa dough in the fridge for ½ hour to an hour to thicken. It is easier to work with thicken dough.
Note: In case, you need more pork broth, water will work.
Take corn husk with smooth side on top and widest part facing you. You can do it sideways too whichever is easier for you.
Use an ice cream scoop and take a scoop full of masa dough. Spread it with a masa spreader or a big spoon, thinly and evenly. You might need more masa to cover about 4 to 5 inches height and however wide is the corn husk.
Apply 2 ½ to 3 tablespoons pork filling. Flip the left corn husk over the pork filling then the right.
Fold the bottom part of corn husk where the masa dough ends. Lightly press the fold with your fingers.
If you like, you can tie it with a strip of corn husk but not necessary.
Steam the Tamales
Place tamales next to each other standing up in the steamer or instant pot. Cover top with a stack of corn husks.
If you don’t have enough tamales to fill the steamer or instant pot, add corn husks or foil at the center of steamer or pot to easily prop them up.
Make sure water doesn’t touch the bottom of tamales, if it does, add a stack of corn husk in the bottom.
Stove Top – Add the water to the lower part of steamer and bring to a boil then lower heat to simmer. Steam for 1 ½ hours then leave it in the pot for 30 minutes.
Instant Pot – Set PRESSURE COOK on HIGH and SET TIME for 25 minutes. Wait for Natural Pressure Release then remove tamales.
Set it aside at room temperature and when cool to touch unwrap tamales, corn husks should easily pull away from the masa dough. Discard or use the corn husk as your plate.
Serve it with Pico de Gallo, Guacamole, Red and Green Salsa Verde. Enjoy!
See my cooking tips and frequently ask questions in the blog.
Store in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 5 days and freeze up to 3 months.
If you don't have a steamer or an instant pot, you need a pot big enough for all the tamales. Place a heat resistant big bowl upside down at the center of pot and insert crumpled foil on the sides of pot so you can stand all your tamales in the pot.
When using an instant pot, if the inner pot is not fully pack the pressure can move the tamales. You can insert a stack of corn husks or crumpled foil to secure the tamales standing up.