Pork Tamales Rojos Filling

Recipe of Belinda Rodriquez as told to Ann M. Evans

This recipe can be doubled or tripled with no problem. If doubling, use as indicated below.

INGREDIENTS – Pork Filling

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 6 large ancho chiles, seeds removed – for 2x use 6 ancho chiles
  • 9 dried guajillo chiles, seeds removed – for 2x use 20 guajillo chiles
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns  
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 tablespoons cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed Mexican dried oregano
  • 3 pound boneless pork shoulder, (espaldilla de cerdo) cut into 1-inch pieces, cooked ahead
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar


  • Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and softened, 8–10 minutes. Set aside.
  • Put ancho and guajillo chiles in a pot with water to cover to soften chiles. Cover pot, stirring occasionally, and simmer until soft, about 30 minutes.
  • Put the chiles and liquid in a blender. Add spices, pepper, cloves, cumin powder and oregano to the mixture and grind together. Add to the onion mixture.
  • To cook the meat, put the meat in a large pan on the stovetop on medium to low heat. Cover with water. Add the bay leaf, garlic, salt. Cover. Cook until meat is very tender and it shreds easily, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Let cool 15 minutes, then skim fat from sauce; discard bay leaf. Drain the pork but reserve the water.
  • Using a potato masher or a large fork, smash pork until meat is shredded, or use two forks to pull the meat apart, or your hands. Stir in vinegar; let cool.
  • Transfer the pork to the pan with the onions and chiles. Mix thoroughly. Then transfer the filling to an airtight container and chill until pork is cold and firm, at least 3 hours.
  • Do Ahead: Filling can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.