A cooking lesson with Pilar Cabrera

A delightful view of my good friend Pilar Cabrera as she teaches a few students about the art of making tamales, like the ones her grandmother taught her to make. Pilar is the chef of La Olla Restaurante in Oaxaca. Her food is delicious.

Taking on Tamales

Banana Leaf Wrapped TamalesPhoto by Ignacio Urquiza

Banana Leaf Wrapped Tamales
Photo by Ignacio Urquiza

Tamales are one of the staples of holiday menus throughout Mexico and to anyone of Mexican heritage, it is the single food that is inseparable from Christmas. I think it is important for Mexican restaurants to serve at least two or three different types of tamales throughout the holiday season, and those home cooks may find it a fun family activity to make them together, even in advance and then freeze them to use later. As described in the “Taking on Tamales” article written by editor Kathleen Furore of el Restaurante MEXICANO, Fall 2012, I suggest corn husk-wrapped Tamales Navideños with shredded, cooked turkey or chicken in a mole of ground toasted peanuts, sesame seeds, chiles anchos, mulatos and pasillas, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon and Mexican chocolate. Another recipe is a banana leaf-wrapped tamal, such as one from Veracruz pictured above, where the masa is filled with small chunks of pork, zucchini, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chiles, and always, a tamal dulce recipe (sweet tamal). This could be tamales de piña con coco served with ice cream, toasted almonds or pecans, and fresh pineapple, or a sweet and spicy tamal recipe with canned pumpkin purée and spices mixed into the masa.

To read the full post and get recipes, go here.