Carnitas Tamales with Manchamantel Sauce

On May 5 (Cinco de Mayo), we celebrated with a homemade Mexican feast.  I’ve been meaning to post our tamale adventure since then.  For some reason, it just got postponed over and over again.  Two months later, here it is!

It also has been quite some time since I posted anything for Cookbook of the Week (like a month).   Today I want to highlight my Coyote Cafe Cookbook.  

In the late 80s, two girlfriends and I made a road trip to Santa Fe. It was kind of a spontaneous trip.  We really didn’t research the city well and we ended up staying at a La Quinta Inn.  (Not very authentic.)   We did a bit of shopping (Jackalope was one of the highlights), visited Ten Thousand Waves (because somebody knew somebody), found a cool bookstore and ate at Coyote Cafe.  In fact, that is the only restaurant I remember.   We were kind of young and dumb.   Since that time, The Hubs and I have explored Northern New Mexico quite a bit.  We’ve found some great quaint hotels, rented some unique casitas, and found some amazing food.   I like to think we have upped our traveling game quite a bit.   It is nice to know that Coyote Cafe is still there though.

Mark Miller opened the Coyote Cafe in 1987.  Besides the visit in October of 1989 (where honestly, other than buying a cookbook for my sister and purchasing some passion fruit tea, I don’t remember much about the food), we dined there again in 2012.  I remember much more about that meal.  Here’s what I wrote at the time.

We started with an Atomic Horseradish Salad (Radishes with a horseradish Parmesan sauce) and Roasted Beet and Chicory Salad.   I did not see that it was accompanied by house made marshmallows, so when it came out, I told hubby, “Look how nicely they toasted that goat cheese.”   Imagine my surprise.   It was surprising good with the sweet beets.

I opted for the vegetarian tasting menu which included the beet salad,  New Mexico Corn Soup with Truffles and Chives (soooo aromatic) and for the entree, Sherry Infused Italian Brown Mushroom Strudel.    It was accompanied by spring onions that were dipped in tempura and fried, a great idea that I am going to use this spring.    I loved this meal (and it was about half price when compared to The Compound.)

(We had eaten a very expensive and very mediocre meal at The Compound the previous night.)

I have to say that the tamales I made from Miller’s cookbook were delicious as well.  I’ve always been scared to try tamales, always hearing how it is an all day process and a lot of family and friends need to be assembled to help.  (That is obviously out of the question at this point.)   Honestly, these were not that hard but this is a small batch recipe so I wasn’t stuffing and rolling all day.

First make the carnitas.


Mark Miller’s Carnitas

From the Coyote Cafe Cookbook by Mark Miller


  • 2 lbs. pork butt with fat, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 c. water
  • 3 T. chile caribe (I used a dried Thai chile.)
  • 1 1/2 t. Kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, roasted, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 c. chopped onions
  • 1 t. anise seed
  • 2 t. cumin seed
  • 1 stick canela
  • 1 T. Mexican oregano leaves


  1. Put pork, water, chile caribe, salt, garlic and onion in a heavy saucepan and bring to a slow simmer.
  2. Roast spices and oregano in a dry saute pan over medium heat until fragrant. In a spice mill, grind spices and oregano together into a powder. Add to the pork, and continue to simmer, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours until tender, adding more water as needed.
  3. Increase the heat and cook until all the liquid evaporates. Reduce heat slightly and continue to cook, stirring until the cubes of meat are a mahogany brown. Let cool.

This is the most delicious carnitas recipe I have ever made.

Assembly line.

Now on to the tamales:


Carnitas Tamales

Mark Miller

This dough is aromatic and delicious and is also a beautiful color.


  • 1/2 lb. carnitas (See recipe above.)
  • 1 c. masa harina
  • 3/4 c. plus 1 1/2 T. warm chicken stock
  • 3/4 c. softened butter
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. roasted anise seed
  • 2 t. cayenne pepper
  • 2 t. paprika
  • 10-12 large dried corn husks, soaked in hot water until pliable
  • 2 c. Manchamantel Sauce


  1. Shred the carnitas by hand and set aside.
  2. Mix the masa harina and stock together with a spoon or whisk. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, baking powder, salt, anise, cayenne, and paprika until light and fluffy. Incorporate the masa in 2 oz. (four tablespoons) increments, whisking until light and fluffy (about 10 to 15 minutes total).
  3. Divide the masa and carnitas filling evenly between the corn husks; roll and time tamales, and steam for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve over Manchamantel Sauce.


I’m glad I made the sauce suggested in the cookbook.  It is truly interesting.  Miller writes in the hednote to the tamale recipe that  “The flavors of tropical fruit and pork go particularly well together which is why the Manchamantel Sauce is the perfect accompaniment for this tamale.”

Yes, it does have a banana in it.

Manchamantel Sauce

Mark Miller

Literally, manchamantel means “tablecloth stainer.” This sauce with its red chiles is likely to stain a few palates along the way! it is a classic fruit-and-chile sauce from Central Mexico that goes wonderfully well with pork and shrimp dishes, and tamales. It is very popular at Coyote Cafe because of its natural sweetness and hotness, and in form and texture is akin to an old-style Cantonese sweet-and-sour sauce. While this recipe contains bananas and pineapple, other combinations of ripe fruit, such as apples and peaches, can also be used. If you can’t get canela, which is the form of cinnamon commonly used in Mexico, ordinary cinnamon can be substituted, but cut the amount in half.


  • 1/2 lb. whole dried ancho chilies (I had to use New Mexico dried chiles because that’s what was on hand.)
  • 2 qt. water
  • 1/2 lb. Roma tomatoes (I used one 28 oz. can of fire roasted crushed tomatoes.)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roasted and peeled
  • 1 3/4 c. diced fresh pineapple
  • 1/4 lb. ripe banana
  • 1 large green apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 3 t. ground canela (or 1 1/2 t. cinnamon)
  • 1 T. cider vinegar
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • 1/4 t. ground allspice
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1 T. granulated sugar
  • 3 T. peanut oil or lard


  1. Remove stems and seeds from chiles. With a comal or black iron skillet, or in an oven at 250 F, dry roast chiles for 5 minutes. Shake once or twice and do not allow to blacken. Add to the water in a covered pan and simmer very low for 30 minutes to rehydrate. Allow to cool.
  2. Blacken tomatoes in a skillet or under a broiler (about 5 minutes)
  3. Place chiles, tomatoes and the remaining ingredients in a blender and puree. If necessary, add a little liquid.Taste the chile water first. If it is not bitter, use chile water; otherwise add plain water. Strain.
  4. Add the oil or lard to a high-sided pan, and heat until almost smoking. Refry sauce at a sizzle for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring continuously.

As stated at the opening, I’m using this post for a long overdue Cookbook of the Week offering.  I’m also linking up with Weekend Cooking at The Intrepid Reader.  

Because of the cookbook review, I’m also linking up with Foodies Read.

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