Rancho Tamales

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3 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck and/or boneless pork butt, trimmed of most of its fat

2 tablespoons oil

3 cups water or stock, to cover

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon Spanish oregano

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Red Chile Sauce:

15 California and/or New Mexican dried chiles, stemmed

1 1/2 cups water (for pureeing chiles)

2 tablespoons oil or lard

2 tablespoons flour

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vinegar

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed


3 cups lard (1 1/2 pounds), preferably freshly rendered

2 teaspoons baking powder, preferably aluminum-free (see Note)

1/4 cup flavorful olive oil

4 pounds freshly ground pure masa, or dried masa harina (see Note)

4 tablespoons kosher salt

3/4 cup beef-cooking broth


1 package corn husks (tamale hojas), the widest husks you can find, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes

Kitchen string, cut into 8-inch lengths

1 1/2 cups ripe black olives, drained

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