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Tamale Time!

Nothing Signals the Holidays More Than Sharing Tamales with Family and Friends

Article by Rebecca Magaña & Kristy Belley

Photography by Carolina Arroyo

Originally published in Gilbert City Lifestyle

Red Chile Pork Tamales


3-4 pounds pork butt roast
2 14-ounce containers frozen red chile, defrosted
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic granules
2 tablespoons salt
2 cups water
2 tablespoons lard
1/4 cup flour


  1.  Start the night before, placing roast in a slower cooker overnight. Add water, garlic granules, bay leaf and salt. Place cooker setting to low and let cook overnight, at least 8 hours.
  2. When roast is done, remove pork from pot to cool and shred. Reserve broth to use in masa.
  3. In a 5-quart pot, make a roux out of 2 tablespoons lard and 1/4 cup flour, browning the flower. Flour needs to cook at least 3 minutes or more until it is a golden brown, then add the defrosted containers of red chile. Fill each empty container from the chile half full with water. Add water to the pot. Whisk the ingredients until they start to boil and thicken. Reduce heat. Slowly add shredded pork. Stir while adding ingredients. Let simmer for 45 minutes on low heat. Set aside to cool.

MASA Perfection

Masa Makes a Difference


20 pounds fresh-ground unprepared corn masa

3 pounds lard

1/2 cup flour

3 tablespoons baking powder

3-6 tablespoons salt (gradually add to taste, may use more or less)

Pork broth (reserved from cooking roast for filling)


  1. In a large bowl, break up 20 pounds of unprepared masa. 
  2. Add the lard, flour, baking powder and salt (starting with 3 tablespoons and adding more to your taste). 
  3.  Add the broth, which should be a little warm but not hot as it will cook the masa. Using a mixer or hands, mix until smooth. The masa should have a smooth consistency to spread on the husk with ease.
  4. Once mixed to your desired consistency, set aside.

To Assemble:

Gather the family


Pack of clean corn husks
Steamer pot and lid


  1. Soak corn husks in warm water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Drain corn husks and place on a platter or baking sheet.
  3. Set up the assembly station by placing the masa in a bowl, some of the filling in another bowl and the corn husk nearby.
  4. Spread the masa on the husk to cover the smooth side of the husk up to about 2 inches from top.
  5. Add filling to the middle and fold each side of the husk over the filling, folding down the top empty part of the husk.
  6. Once all of the tamales are filled, stack them into a steamer, with the open side up. Add water to the steamer—do not fill pot too full, as that may result in uncooked tamales. 
  7. Cover tamales with the lid and steam for 1 1/2 hours. Once time is up, let the tamales cool for a bit before eating.
  8. You may package tamales in a freezer bag after they have cooled. Freeze for up to 6 months.