Most definitely worth it: Dried-chile salsa adds intense flavor to the braised pork here so it doesn’t get lost next to the pillowy masa filling.Slideshow:More Pork Shoulder Recipes
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 bay leaves
32 dried corn husks
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 dried ancho chiles—stemmed, seeded and torn into large pieces
3 dried guajillo chiles—stemmed, seeded and torn into large pieces
3 dried pasilla chiles—stemmed, seeded and torn into large pieces
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening
4 cups masa harina
2 teaspoons baking powder
How to Make It
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, cook the pork over high heat until browned on all sides, 12 minutes total. Add the bay leaves and 3 cups of water, partially cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the pork is tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a work surface and let cool slightly. Shred with 2 forks.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the corn husks, remove the pot from the heat and let stand, turning the husks once or twice, until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain the corn husks and shake off as much water as possible.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ancho, guajillo and pasilla chiles, the coriander, thyme, oregano, cumin and 2 teaspoons of black pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant and toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the stock, season with salt and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the liquid is nearly evaporated, about 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender. Add the vinegar and puree at high speed until smooth. Scrape the sauce into a large bowl and toss with the shredded pork. Season with salt.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the shortening until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the remaining 2 cups of stock, the masa, baking powder and 1/2 tablespoon of salt and beat at low speed until the masa dough is well combined.
Arrange 1 husk on a work surface with the narrow end pointing away from you. On the wide end, spread 2 tablespoons of the masa dough in a 4-by-3-inch rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border at the bottom. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the pork mixture in the center of the masa dough. Fold in the long sides of the husk, overlapping them to enclose the filling. Fold the narrow end over the filling. Tie closed with a strip of husk; it will be open at the wide end. Place the tamale in a large steamer insert. Repeat with the remaining corn husks, masa dough and pork.
Fill a steamer with 4 inches of water and bring to a boil. Set the steamer insert on top and cover with the lid; wrap foil around the edge if necessary to make a tight seal. Steam the tamales over moderately low heat for about 40 minutes. Uncover and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
The tamales can be assembled and refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month; steam them while still frozen.
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