Recipes, Special Diets on September 2, 2011 by

My Man’s Belly: Easy Pork Tamales (GF)

My name is Pamela and I write a blog called My Man’s Belly.  I was so happy to be able to share this recipe with you.  I create lots of different kinds of recipes on my site and especially enjoy creating recipes that allow people to eat great food with a minimum amount of effort.

Several years ago a crock pot (aka slow cooker) saved my life.  Not in the true life or death sort of way, but in the way that eating another fast food burger or burrito or microwave dinner might be the death of me kind of way.  My husband and I were both working full time jobs and I was going to grad school at night.  Between work, classes, commuting, and sometimes sleeping I found eating a real meal was something I was lucky to be getting one day out of the week.  That’s when I discovered the slow cooker.

This inexpensive little device allowed me to fill it up with all kinds of good stuff, before leaving for work, and come home to a house that smelled like I had been cooking away all day.  Making dinner became one of the easiest parts of my day.  Dress a salad, steam up a vegetable and we got to sit down to hot meal that wasn’t full of sugar, salt or any other strange ingredients.

We really like tamales, but I still don’t have the time to make up the filling, cook up the cornmeal, wrap it all neatly in cornhusks then steam the tamales to perfection.  The crock pot to the rescue.

I’ve been making lazy chicken tamales for a long time, but we’ve begun to crave the pork tamales that I want to share with you today.  After a long day of running around, this is a delicious and filling dish to come home to.  To make things easy on yourself, you can fix the pork and make up the sauce the night before.  Just put everything in the slow cooker before you go to bed and put it in the refrigerator.  Before you leave for work, put the crock into the warming unit and set it on LOW for 6-8 hours.  If your slow cooker doesn’t have a timer on it, just plug it into one of those light timers that’s set for the time you want it to turn off.

When you get home, all you need to do is prepare the cornmeal, add some fresh tomatoes, a little avocado and maybe some cilantro and sour cream.

There’s another benefit to making this dish beyond how easy it is to make and how delicious it is.  You’ll probably have leftovers for lunch tomorrow or another dinner.

Please don’t be scared off by the list of ingredients.  These are all things that are readily available at your local grocery store (if they’re not already in your pantry).  The preparation for this is so easy, it really only takes minutes to put it all together.

Easy Pork Tamales

[Editor’s note: This dish can be made gluten free by using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Corn Grits or Gluten Free Corn Meal.]


  • 3 pounds Pork Butt/Shoulder (cut into 2″ cubes)
  • 3 dried Guajillo Peppers
  • 2 dried Pasilla Peppers
  • 1 14-15 ounce can Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 large Onion (diced)
  • 4 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Coriander
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Powdered Mustard
  • 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 – 1 cup Pepper Soaking Water

For Cornmeal


For the Pork

  1. After you cube the pork, put it into the slow cooker.
  2. Pull the stems off of the dried guajillo and pasilla peppers.  Empty the seeds out of the peppers as well. (It’s okay if the peppers tear.)
  3. Fill a medium size container with hot water.  Place the dried guajillo and pasilla peppers into the water.  Let them soften in the water for 15 – 20 minutes.
  4. While the peppers are soaking, add the next 14 ingredients into a blender or food processor.
  5. Remove the dried peppers from the soaking water and add them to the blender or food processor.
  6. Cover and puree the mixture.  If the mixture is too thick, add some of the pepper soaking water to thin it out.  You want the sauce to have the consistency of ketchup.
  7. Pour the mixture over the cubed pork that is in the slow cooker.
  8. At this point you can cover the crock and either refrigerate it overnight to begin cooking in the morning or you can put it into the heating unit and begin cooking it immediately.
  9. Cook on Low setting for 6-8 hours or you can cook it on High for 3-4 hours.  The length of time varies slightly because different crock pots cook differently.  The lower end of the cooking time should be plenty to cook the pork through, especially because it is cut into small cubes.

For the Cornmeal

  1. In a large saucepan, over high heat, bring the chicken stock to a boil.
  2. Whisk in the corn grits (corn meal).  Reduce heat and simmer while stirring frequently to help keep from sticking.
  3. Mixture will become very thick (approximately 30 minutes).
  4. Add butter to corn meal and stir to thoroughly combine.


The guajillo and pasilla peppers are not spicy peppers.  If you are concerned about the spiciness of this dish, you can leave out the chipotle powder (but the chipotle also gives the sauce a smokiness).

You can serve the cornmeal soft, and a bit mushy or you can firm it up by baking it. Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Lightly oil a pie pan with olive oil.  Pour cooked corn meal into the pie pan.  Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes.  The top will form a crust and edges will begin to brown.  When done, remove from oven. Let cool for 10 minutes. Slice into wedges.  Slice wedges in half. Serve open face with pork tamale on top.


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