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The Hirshon Costa Rican Christmas Tamales

  • Total Time: 0 hours


Units Scale
  • Rice Tico-Style:
  • 35 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 small or half a medium onion
  • 1/2 small red sweet pepper
  • 3 cups (700 ml) chicken broth
  • 2 cups (350 ml) white rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
  • ***
  • For the Tamales:
  • 55 g (1/4 cup) white rice
  • 250 g boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3 cm pieces
  • 1 onion, halved lengthwise
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 potato
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 30 g (1/4 cup) frozen peas
  • 1/2 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • banana leaves (about 6 meters of leaves) cut into 20 x 20 cm squares
  • hot sauce, to serve
  • ***
  • Tamal dough:
  • 200 g lard, at room temperature
  • 330 g (3 cups) masa harina
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground achiote
  • 2 1/2 cups reserved pork stock from cooking pork shoulder
  • ***
  • Salsa:
  • 2 large green tomatoes
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 2 large vidalia onions (or Spanish onions)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


  1. For the rice: chop cilantro, onion, and red pepper very fine.
  2. Add 1 Tablespoon oil to a large pan and sauté the dry rice for 2 minutes over medium high flame then add the chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro and sauté another 2 minutes.
  3. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer until rice is tender (20-35 minutes).
  4. For the potato: Peel the potatoes and boil with salt, cilantro and oregano to taste until soft. Cool and cut into ½ inch (1 cm) cubes.
  5. Meanwhile, place pork in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion, peppercorns, cumin and thyme, then cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 2 hours or until pork is meltingly tender. Allow to cool completely in liquid. Remove pork, saving liquid for the dough. Using two forks, shred meat, then toss with potato, cumin, peas, carrot, garlic, herbs and rice. Refrigerate until needed.
  6. To make dough, beat lard in an electric mixer for 8 minutes or until fluffy. Combine masa harina with lard and spices beat for 15 minutes or until firm and not sticky. Add baking powder and salt. Beat to combine.
  7. Add about 2 ½ cups reserved stock to make a paste the consistency of mashed potatoes. Mix and add slowly, and if you over shoot on the broth and get it too thin, add a little more masa.Warm banana leaf squares over an open flame until pliable.
  8. Place 1 heaped tablespoonful of dough in the center of each leaf, shape into a rectangle, and then top with 1 heaped tablespoonful of pork mixture. Starting at a corner, roll up leaves diagonally, folding in sides as you roll to enclose mixture. Tie each parcel with kitchen string then wrap each parcel in foil. Boil for 45 minutes or until parcels feel firm. Remove from water and set aside to cool completely.
  9. To make salsa, combine all ingredients in a bowl with 1 tsp salt. Serve tamales with salsa and hot sauce.
  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours

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