Hanukkah Brisket Tamales
Sending my warmest wishes to you at Hanukkah
May you be blessed with joy, good health, peace, and tender brisket….
Oh how we adore our brisket. And since the cooking process takes over eight hours, I usually make enough for leftovers and extra to freeze for later too. This year – the intersection of Hanukkah, brisket in the freezer, spying some mouth-watering tamales at LA’s Grand Central Market, and a tamalada (my Latino friends’ traditional Christmas season tamale-making party) – led to a unique holiday treat…Hanukkah Brisket Tamales. Made with my super-tender beef brisket, from a recipe that we have been making for many years. It is so good it’s one of the few recipes that I never adjust. The addition of carrots sautéed in olive oil and seasoned with a bit of cumin, salt and pepper plus a medley of sautéed onion and jalapeño adds fresh flavor and spiciness. The (optional) gouda cheese brings another dimension of smokiness and creamy texture. And lastly, who could resist the adorable little packages all wrapped up like a present, representing the age-old Jewish custom to give gifts of gelt to children on Hanukkah.
Note: Omit dairy or replace with non-dairy vegan substitutes for your Observant guests who follow the laws of kashrut (Jewish dietary laws).
Hanukkah Brisket Tamales Recipe
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Bobby Flay’s MESA GRILL Las Vegas
When the JetBlue flight touches down at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, many people get that familiar tingly feeling. Excitement, adrenaline, gonna win big this time! But our thrill comes not only from fantasizing about hitting the $10 million MegaBucks jackpot (although that’s part of it). Our unique-to-Vegas sensation is mainly about hitting the Culinary Jackpot.
We agonize over our restaurant reservations well in advance of the trip, painstakingly coordinating visits to hot new Chefs, old favorite Chefs with new venues, various cuisines and locations. This time, my brother Don imposed a requirement – we could not eat anywhere we had previously eaten. Except, of course, Mon Ami Gabi @ Paris, because it’s our favorite spot for al fresco breakfast and the bar is our afternoon hangout for drinking vin gris and enjoying the Bellagio Fountains.
Another trip to Vegas, another trip to culinary heaven. Thanks to Don’s edict, this recent journey introduced us to Andre’s @ Monte Carlo, the bar at Michel Richard’s new Central @ Caesar’s, Bradley Ogden @ Caesar’s, Sirio @ Aria.
And brunch at Bobby Flay’s MESA GRILL @ Caesar’s:
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Handmade Chicken Tamale
Pico de Gallo
Farmers Market in San Pedro
Fridays 9 AM to 2 PM
San Pedro is a community that is part of the City of Los Angeles
Baby Bouquet $3.00
Pico de Gallo
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
Onion, finely chopped
Serrano Chile , finely chopped
Fresh Lime Juice
One of my favorite stalls at the Farmers Market is the tamale stand. You can enjoy a hot steaming tamale with salsa roja there, or take some home and serve with the fresh vegetables picked up at the market: micro greens drizzled with olive oil and sea salt, and my fresh pico de gallo.
What is your favorite item at your Farmers Market?
Handmade with love: Three generations of women with one more generation on the way (congrats to Emily, due in April) worked from 7 PM to 1 AM last week making 100 tamales in the style of their Central American roots. And I was one of the lucky recipients of that labor of love. Thank you, ladies!
A banana leaf is laid flat then topped with masa prepared with lard and seasonings. Pork ribs were sliced into bite-sized pieces by their butcher, then cooked with onions and spices. The masa is topped with the cooked pork, peas, garbanzo beans, unpitted little green olives, capers, and some had achiote paste.
Wrapped up in a neat little bundle with aluminum foil to hold it all together and steamed for an hour. (To reheat, simply remove the foil and warm up in the microwave). The filling was a surprise in that there were bones and pits to watch out for. Marlene tells me this is the way they have always made it, I suspect the bones enhanced the already delicious depth of flavor and I love the authenticity.
Served with a salad of sliced tomato, white onion, avocado, a drizzle of oil and squeeze of lime. The tamale was dressed with Crema Salvadoreña (Salvadorean style sour cream) and salsa roja. Muy sabroso. And the beauty of giving tamales as a gift, they are already wrapped! Muchas gracias a la familia del Figueroa.