Main Dish

Pork Tamales with Salsa Roja

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens

5007 Fulton Road
Fulton, CA 95439

These tamales are great for entertaining because you can assemble and steam them in advance. Let cool, then refrigerate and reheat in the steamer just before serving.

Pork Filling

  • 1 1/4 pounds pork butt
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 dried pasilla chile, seeded
  • 1 dried guajillo chile, seeded
  • 1/2 onion, quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 pound tomatillos
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 3 tablespoons raisins
To make the pork filling, preheat the oven to 375°F.  

Season the pork with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the pork and sear until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to a baking dish.

In the same pan, lightly toast the chiles in the fat. Add the chiles, onion, garlic, stock, tomatillos, orange juice and raisins to the dish with the pork. Cover with aluminum foil, transfer to the oven and roast until the pork is fork-tender, about 1 1/2 hours, checking the pork every 30 minutes.  

Transfer the pork to a cutting board. When it is cool enough to handle, shred the meat and place in a bowl. 

Pour the cooking liquid into a blender and puree. Adjust the seasoning with salt. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pureed salsa roja for serving and add the rest to the bowl with the pork. Let cool.


  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces lard
  • About 2 cups chicken stock, or as needed
To make the masa, in a bowl, stir together the masa harina, baking powder and salt. Using your hands, knead in the lard along with just under 2 cups stock. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. 

At this point, if the masa has absorbed too much liquid, knead in more stock. The masa dough should be soft enough to spread onto the corn husks with the back of a large spoon.

Assembling and Serving

  • 12 dried corn husks, soaked in water overnight
  • Sour cream for serving
  • Cotija cheese for serving
To assemble the tamales, remove the corn husks from the soaking water. With the shiny, smooth side up (the rougher, dull side will stick to the filling), place a dollop of masa dough in the center and spread so it is about 1/4 inch thick over the top half of the husk. The amount will depend on the size of the husk. Place 2 tablespoons pork filling in the center of the masa. Join the two sides of the husk together and fold over onto itself, then fold the bottom of the husk up to seal. 

Place the tamales upright in a steamer so they are standing against each other. Steam until the husks easily pull away from the tamales, about 1 hour. 

Serve the tamales immediately, or let them cool, then refrigerate and reheat in the steamer when ready to serve.

Serve the tamales with the reserved salsa roja, sour cream and cheese.