Start soaking the corn husks by placing them into a large bowl and covering with warm water. Leave them to soak while you continue with the recipe.
If you’re using aluminium foil or parchment paper, cut them into 8×6 inch (20x15cm) rectangles and set aside.
COOK THE MEAT
Place the meat into a pot and cover with plenty of water. Add garlic, bay leaves and salt. Bring to a boil and cook until the meat is very tender and you’ll end with about 3-4 cups of cooking water.
Place the meat into a bowl and shred it using two forks when the meat is still hot or let it cool and use your hands. Set aside.
PREPARE THE RED SAUCE FOR TAMALES
Clean the chillies, if you don’t want the sauce to be hot cut them and discard the seeds and veins. Place them into a bowl and cover with hot water for at least 20 minutes.
Place the chillies in a blender, add tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin and salt. Add 2 cups of the meat cooking water and blend for 4 minutes on high until you’ll end with a smooth sauce.
Reserve one and half cup of the sauce and set aside.
PREPARARE THE FILLING
In a medium pan heat the pork lard over medium heat. Add the sauce and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the meat, mix well and simmer for 5 minutes of until the sauce has ticked. Adjust with salt and let it cool.
PREPARARE THE TAMALES DOUGH
Place the Masa Harina in a large bowl. Add the sauce you reserved before and start mixing adding some cooking water until you achieve a smooth dough that won’t stick to your hands (watch the video). Taste the dough and adjust with salt if necessary.
Melt the pork lard and let it cool lightly. Add it to the dough and knead until fully incorporated.
MAKE THE RED PORK TAMALES
Drain the corn husks and pat them dry with a kitchen towel. Make some strips by tearing 2-3 husks (see video), those are needed to tie the tamales.
Place 2 spoonfuls of tamales dough in the middle of a husk and spread it a little bit (not too much! we’re not making flat tamales here).
Using the same spoon, make a small hole in the middle and spoon in the chilli pork mixture.
Carefully fold the husk to cover completely the filling and end with some sort of burrito.
With the corn husk strips you made before, tie both sides of the tamal and then tie in the middle.
IF YOU’RE NOT USING CORNHUSKS
If you’re using parchment paper or aluminium foil you won’t need to tie the tamales, instead, you’ll have to fold them. You can either shape them as shown before or just make them flat by folding it in 3 parts.
HOW TO COOK TAMALES
Prepare a large stock pot with a steamer basket. Fill the pot with water just before it touches the basket and place the red pork tamales in layers.
Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot and cook the tamales for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, checking occasionally and adding more water when is needed.
No Flat Tamales: This recipe is for “fat” cylindric tamales, not the flat version you might have seen everywhere. If you want to make flat tamales just make sure to cook them about 15-20 minutes less than our recipe calls.Store: Red pork tamales leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 days or you can also freeze them for up to 3 months and then defrost them before consuming.Reheat: To reheat them you can unwrap them and pop them into the microwave for a couple of minutes or fry them with a little bit of oil on a frying pan. Another option is simply reheat them in a steamer with the husks on.Masa Harina or Corn Masa: I use masa harina because I can’t find fresh corn masa here, but the recipe can be adapted and use fresh corn masa instead. Just make sure to add less liquids to the dough.