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Deconstructed pork tamale with cornbread base

Pulled pork, shredded carrot and cilantro tops a slice of cornbread on a plate. A pepper mill and butter dish are in the background.
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 3 hrs (pork) 30 mins (cornbread)
  • Serves: 8-10 servings

Indulge in a taste of Idaho with this Deconstructed Pork Tamale featuring tender Idaho-grown pork carnitas piled high on a sweet cornbread base. Infused with the heartiness of locally sourced ingredients, this dish celebrates Idaho’s rich flavors in every savory bite, complemented perfectly by zesty salsa verde, and creamy sour cream.

kitchen tips:

Tender Carnitas: Allow the pork to simmer gently until it’s tender and easily shreds.
Flavorful Cornbread Base: Fold in the corn kernels and jalapeño for added texture and flavor.
Customization: Offer a variety of toppings like salsa, sour cream, and avocado to personalize each serving.
Make-Ahead: Both the carnitas and cornbread base can be prepared ahead of time and assembled just before serving.

Categorized: Entrées


  • For the Carnitas:
    • 3-4 lbs pork shoulder or pork butt, cut into chunks
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1/2 cup orange juice
    • 1/4 cup lime juice
    • 1 cup chicken broth
    • 1 bay leaf
  • For the Cornbread Base:
    • 1 cup cornmeal
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh, canned, or frozen)
    • Optional: 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • For Serving:
    • Salsa verde or your favorite salsa
    • Sour cream
    • Chopped cilantro
    • Sliced avocado
    • Lime wedges


  • Prepare the Carnitas:

    Season the pork shoulder chunks generously with salt and pepper.

    Heat vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the pork in batches and sear until browned on all sides. Transfer the seared pork to a plate.

    In the same pot, add chopped onion and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add minced garlic, ground cumin, dried oregano, chili powder, and smoked paprika. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

    Return the seared pork to the pot. Add orange juice, lime juice, chicken broth, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 2-3 hours, or until the pork is tender and easily shreds with a fork.

    Once tender, remove the pork from the pot and shred it using two forks. Return the shredded pork to the pot and cook uncovered for another 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and the liquid to reduce slightly.

  • Prepare the Cornbread Base:

    Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish or line it with parchment paper.

    In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

    In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs until well combined.

    Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in the corn kernels and chopped jalapeño (if using).

    Spread the cornbread batter evenly into the prepared baking dish.

    Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

  • Assemble the Deconstructed Pork Tamale:

    Cut the baked cornbread into squares or rectangles, serving as the base for each portion.

    Top each cornbread base generously with the prepared carnitas.

    Garnish with salsa verde, sour cream, chopped cilantro, sliced avocado, and lime wedges.

  • Serve:

    Serve the Deconstructed Pork Tamale with Cornbread Base warm, allowing everyone to customize their toppings according to taste.