Making classic Mexican tamales can be an all-day project, but using an Instant Pot cuts the time in half—streamlining the process by cooking the meat quickly and in the same pot that steams the finished tamales.
Instant Pot Pork and Green Chile Tamales
- 3/4 lb. (750 g) boneless pork shoulder, cut into 4-inch (10-cm) cubes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 Tbs. canola oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) chicken broth
- 1 can (4 oz./125 g) diced green chiles
- 1/4 cup (1/4 oz./7 g) fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- 4 cups (1 lb./500 g) corn masa mix (masa harina for tamales)
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 4 cups (32 fl. oz./1 l) water
- 2/3 cup (4 oz./125 g) solid vegetable shortening, melted
- 16 large corn husks, soaked in water to cover for 1 hour
1. Season the pork generously with salt and pepper. In an Instant Pot set to “sauté,” warm the oil. In batches, sear the pork until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a plate. Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cumin and garlic powder, return the pork to the pot, add the broth and chiles, and stir well.
2. Lock the lid in place and turn the valve to “sealing.” Set the Instant Pot to pressure cook at high pressure for 1 hour.
3. When the pressure cooking is complete, let the steam release naturally for about 10 minutes, then turn the valve to “venting” to release any residual steam. Carefully remove the lid and, using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork mixture to a bowl. Using 2 forks, shred the pork. Add the cilantro, season with salt and pepper, stir well and let cool to room temperature. Using pot holders, lift out the inner pot, rinse well and return the inner pot to the Instant Pot housing.
4. In a large bowl, mix the corn masa mix, salt and baking powder, then stir in 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) of the water until blended. Stir in the vegetable shortening, then knead the masa against the side of the bowl until incorporated.
5. Remove the husks from the water and pat dry. Place the husks on a work surface with the narrow ends facing you. One at a time, spread about 3 Tbs. of the masa mixture onto the widest part of a husk and top the masa with about 1 Tbs. of the pork mixture. Fold in the sides of the husk to enclose the filling, then fold up the bottom narrow flap of husk over the center and secure with a narrow strip of the husk. Repeat until all the filling is used.
6. Pour the remaining 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) water into the Instant Pot and insert the steam rack. Arrange the tamales on the rack, standing them upright. Lock the lid in place and turn the valve to “sealing.” Set the Instant Pot to pressure cook at high pressure for 40 minutes.
7. When the pressure cooking is complete, let the steam release naturally for about 10 minutes, then turn the valve to “venting” to release any residual steam. Carefully remove the lid and transfer the tamales to a plate. Let stand for 15 to 30 minutes to set up before serving. Makes 12 to 16 tamales; serves 6 to 8.
For this and more recipes that are big on flavor but short on prep time, check out The Instant Pot Cookbook, by the cooks of the Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen.