Pork and Ancho Chile Tamales with Mexican Red Sauce

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

Suggested Use:
Anchos are great in salsa, soups, enchilada and any sauce needing mild heat and chile flavor. Chopped, pureed or ground, they can be added directly to your recipes.

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24 dried corn husks
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup dried cherries
1 ancho chile, stemmed
1 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
5 garlic cloves
1 (1 lb) pork tenderloin
Cooking spray
4 1/2 cups Mexican hot-style tomato sauce
Lime wedges (optional)


Place corn husks in a large bowl cover with water. Weight husks down with a can and soak 30 minutes. Drain husks.

Combine broth, cherries, and ancho chile in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave at HIGH for 2 minutes or until cherries and ancho are tender. Combine broth mixture, onion, and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a blender. Process until mixture is smooth. Reserve 1/2 cup broth mixture, and cover and chill. Place remaining broth mixture in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add pork, seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning bag occasionally.

Preheat oven to 450°.

Remove pork from bag, and discard marinade. Place pork on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 30 minutes or until a thermometer registers 155° (slightly pink). Let pork stand 20 minutes. Shred pork with 2 forks. Toss shredded pork with reserved 1/2 cup broth mixture.

Working with one husk at a time, place about 3 tablespoons Basic Masa Dough in the center of husk, about 1/2 inch from top of husk press dough into a 4-inch-long by 3-inch-wide rectangle. Spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon pork mixture down one side of dough. Using the corn husk as your guide, fold husk over tamale, being sure to cover filling with dough. Fold over 1 more time. Fold bottom end of husk under. Place tamale, seam side down, on the rack of a broiler pan lined with a damp towel. Repeat procedure with remaining husks, Basic Masa Dough, and filling. Cover filled tamales with another damp towel. Pour 2 cups hot water in the bottom of a broiler pan. Top with prepared rack.

Steam tamales at 450° for 55 minutes, adding water as necessary to maintain a depth of about 1/2 inch. Let tamales stand 10 minutes. Serve with sauce and lime wedges, if desired.

Makes 12 servings.

From Julianna Grimes, Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2008.