Venison Tamales? Sounds Like a Fantastic Idea

Mia Anstine, left, has been making tamales with her family for many years and loves the process because everyone can chip in to help. (Photo: Mia Anstine)

Mia Anstine, left, has been making tamales with her family for many years and loves the process because everyone can chip in to help. (Photo: Mia Anstine)

Mia Anstine is a hunter, writer, mother and wife, and obviously she loves to cook based on this fantastic recipe for tamales.

Anstine is co-owner of Wolf Creek Outfitters, is a columnist for Women’s Outdoor News and Western Whitetail Magazine, contributor to the Beretta USA blog and is on the pro staff for TenPoint Crossbows and Prois Hunting. She’s busy!

Mia Anstine's tamales call for a pork roast, but a venison roast will work and provide some tasty flavors. (Photo: Mia Anstine)

Mia Anstine’s tamales call for a pork roast, but a venison roast will work and provide some tasty flavors. (Photo: Mia Anstine)

I noticed a photo Anstine had posted of her pork roast being prepped for these delicious tamales and emailed to see if she thought this would work with a venison roast. She’s been making these for years (we won’t ask how many!) and was kind enough to provide us the recipe. Sounds like this could be outstanding with venison shoulders or neck roasts, or even some hindquarters if you want to make a lot for a family gathering or party.

“I’m sure they will be delicious with deer, elk or maybe even bear,” she replied. “I’m going to have to give it a try myself. There are a lot of steps, but really, if you get the family involved, it is a lot of quality time for everyone.”

The recipe calls for pork shoulder but substitute venison and give it a try.

— Alan Clemons, Southern Managing Editor

Pork Tamales
Ingredients:
15 pounds – Pork roast (at least 2 bone-in roasts for flavor)
3 – Garlic heads, peeled and pressed
4 – Yellow onions, peeled and quartered
6 tsp – Salt
8 quarts – water
2 C – Hot Mexican-style chili powder
¼ C – Creamy peanut butter
4 Tbsp – Fresh oregano
4 Tbsp – Cumin
Cornstarch
6 cans – Black olives (optional)
20 pounds – White corn masa mix
200 – Corn husks
nylon string (optional)
6 tsp – Baking powder
3 C – Shortening

Mmmm ... tamales! Once steamed, these tasty treats will have your family and friends asking for more. (Photo: Mia Anstine)

Mmmm … tamales! Once steamed, these tasty treats will have your family and friends asking for more. (Photo: Mia Anstine)

Meat:
15 pounds pork roast (at least 2 bone-in roasts for flavor) (*Note: you may cube the roast to expedite cooking time)
1 Garlic head, peeled and pressed (*Note: an entire head, not clove)
4 Yellow onions, peeled and quartered
6 tsp sea or kosher salt
8 quarts water
Trim roast of excess fat. Place roast in large pot. Add garlic, onion, salt and water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for several hours, until meat is tender, adding water as necessary. When meat is close to finished, reserve 6 cups of broth and begin making sauce, see below. When meat is done/tender, remove meat from broth and add meat to sauce. Set broth aside to cool. Once broth is cool, skim fat from the top of broth.

Sauce:
1 C – Hot Mexican-style chili powder
¼ C – Creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp – Fresh oregano
2 Tbsp – Cumin
1 garlic head, peeled and pressed
6 Cups  broth from pork
Cornstarch
Combine all ingredients into large pot and heat to boil. Simmer for at least 2 hours. Thicken with corn starch to give it a thin gravy consistency. When meat is done/tender, remove it from broth and add to sauce. Allow meat to simmer in sauce while mixing masa, see below.

Masa:
20 pounds white corn masa mix
6 tsp – baking powder
3 C – shortening
Combine masa mix and baking powder. Cut in shortening. Gradually add broth from cooked meat, or add chicken broth, to masa mix. Beat or knead well after each addition. Add just enough broth to make a thick creamy paste. Soak corn husks in water while mixing masa.

Corn Husks: 200 corn husks
Soak in water at least 20 minutes or while mixing masa. Rinse and remove corn silk.
Nylon string:  Important to make steamed tamales easy to untie and eat (or tear strips of cornhusk string)

Assembling tamales: When you assemble the tamales set up a production line. It helps to include family and/or friends so you at least have a smearer, filler and string-tier.

Smear masa onto the rough side of the corn husk. If husks are too small to roll to make a tamale, use masa as glue to past two husks together. Take caution as to keep the masa in a thin, uniform layer. If the layer it too think, they become doughy and won’t cook. If the layer is too thin, the tamale will fall apart when it is opened.

Strain out two chunks, or a tablespoon, of meat and put in the center of the masa-smeared husk. Add one olive if desired. Roll to create the tamale. Squeeze from the ends to plump the center. Then tie each end with string or husk strip. Stack tamales in a large stock pot (see below) and cook immediately, or refrigerate as you complete to prevent pork from spoiling (you don’t want anyone to get food poisoning for Christmas!) When you finish making tamales, take the rest of the meat and shred it for tacos, machaca or other delicious meal.

Cooking the tamales: Stack the tamales in a circular formation on a steamer rack, in a large stock pot. Leave the center open to allow room for a wet towel. Wet towels and add them to the center of the pot between the tamales. Cover the tamales with wet towels or corn husks to seal in steam. Steam the tamales for about 3 hours, checking them often to prevent your pot from steaming dry and burning. Add water as needed. When the tamales are done, the masa will no longer be wet, and will peel easily from the corn husk.

When it’s all done, call everyone to the table, say grace and enjoy!

Want More Great Recipes? Check Out Scott Leysath’s “Better Venison Cookbook” Now!

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