Pork Tamales With Charred Tomato Salsa

Prep Time
Cook Time
1h 15m
Ready In

"Tamales are found throughout Central and South America with different types of fillings. Tamales are made by using both banana leaves and cornhusks. Cornhusks are now easy to find, but in some areas banana leaves are not quite as easy, therefore this recipe gives instructions for both. The tomato salsa rounds out this dish and the addition of a good quality crema either bought or homemade makes it divine. The tamales can also be served on their own without the salsa or crema, it's up to you. This recipe serves a large amount of people, but it can be easily halved and reduced even further."

Original is 12-24 servings


  • Serving Size: 1 (426.3 g)
  • Calories 554.8
  • Total Fat - 33.6 g
  • Saturated Fat - 7.2 g
  • Cholesterol - 48.3 mg
  • Sodium - 1054.4 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate - 50.4 g
  • Dietary Fiber - 4.8 g
  • Sugars - 11.6 g
  • Protein - 16.5 g
  • Calcium - 157.4 mg
  • Iron - 4.5 mg
  • Vitamin C - 60.5 mg
  • Thiamin - 0.9 mg

Step by Step Method


Step 1

Heat oil in heavy skillet and cook garlic and onion until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and cook for 3 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.


Step 2

Combine the masa, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the shortening or lard to the dry mix and toss to coat the pieces.

Step 3

Using your fingers, rub the shortening or lard into the dry mix until forms a rough cornmeal texture.

Step 4

Add the warm chicken stock, mixing to form dough. It may be necessary to add water a tablespoon at a time, until the dough holds together but is not sticky.

Step 5

Divide the dough evenly into 24 pieces.

Step 6

On a clean, dry kitchen towel, place two cornhusks (vertically with wide sides touching) next to each other, overlapping an inch.

Step 7

Arrange the tamale dough on the center seam of the husks.

Step 8

Place your filling in the center of the dough. Fold the bottom of the tamale a quarter of the way up toward the top, and then fold one side into the center to cover the filling and fold second side overlapping the first side.

Step 9

Tie tamale closed with kitchen string.

If using banana leaf proceed with the following:

Step 10

Rinse the squares of banana leaf and pat them dry. Remove the tough outer stems and outer edges.

Step 11

Toast each piece above a low, open flame or directly on the burner of an electric range set on low, for about 20 seconds on one side, moving it constantly, then for about 15 seconds on the other side. The leaves will shrink slightly and deepen in color.

Step 12

Lay 1 square of banana leaf on a work surface. Place your dough and filling in the center of the leaf as described if using cornhusks directions above.

Step 13

Fold the sides of the banana leaf over the tamale mixture, compacting the tamale and forming a square. Set the leaf-wrapped tamale on a square of aluminum foil and wrap it in the foil. Proceed with remaining banana leaves.


Step 14

In a saucepan, bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Place the tamales in a steamer basket, cover, and steam for 40 - 45 minutes.


Step 15

Prepare a fire in a barbecue grill and oil the grill rack. Rub 3 of the tomatoes and the jalepenos with the oil.

Step 16

Place the tomatoes and jalapenos on the grill rack about 6 inches from the heat and cook, turning once, until the tomato skins split and the jalapenos are charred, 3 - 5 minutes on each side. Let cool. (Refer to NOTE below)

Step 17

Seed the tomatoes. Whirl them in a blender of food processor to a coarse puree.

Step 18

You should have about 2 cups of pulp.

Step 19

Seed and chop the jalapenos.

Step 20

Seed and cut the remaining 2 tomatoes into 1/4-inch dice. You should have about 1 cup of diced tomatoes.

Step 21

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and puree coarsely.

Step 22

The salsa can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 days. Serve at room temperature.

Step 23

Makes 24 tamales.

NOTE: Charring the tomatoes and jalapenos can be done in a hot broiler if access to a grill is not easily accomplished or if you want to proceed with this recipe during winter.


No special items needed.

1 Reviews


Amazingly delicious! Time consuming, but well worth the effort. Loved the corn in the tamales, I've never done that before. I have to give thanks to my friend Yvette for teaching me how to make tamales....she was from Mexico, not Central America but the technique is the same. The salsa is not hot, but it is smoky flavored from the grill. I will leave a few of the jalepeno seeds in the salsa next time for a bit more heat. I used corn husks because I can easily buy them here. I also made a mole sauce for some of the tamales as that is what my son prefers on his tamales. Fabulous meal made for Central America by a Smok'in Chef for CQ 2017.


review by:
(27 Aug 2017)

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