Guatemalan Brunch

My most memorable meals in Guatemala were enjoyed in garden cafes in Antigua so I decided to turn a dinner party into brunch.

I knew immediately that I wanted make pepian, a stew I learned to make at a cooking school in Antigua. At first, I was surprised that this stew has chicken, pork, and beef together. I’d never heard of dish featuring all three, and it sounded decadent. Then I realized this traditional dish must have evolved to make use of whatever meat was available. The stew is quite simple but packs in a lot of flavor from the roasting the peppers, vegetables, and pumpkin seeds.

Pepian with a garnish of avocado.

I also wanted to make tamales, but your standard masa-in-corn-husk tamales are plentiful in San Francisco and are often eaten for post-drinking recovery. I decided instead to do a Christmas tamale which feature special ingredients including meat (typically ham or pork), dates, and nuts in addition to masa. They are also wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn husk. Finally, a tangy sauce and steaming then for an hour and a half helped bring all of the flavors together.

The tamales require many steps and are usually made as a family effort. Banana leaves proved to be tricky to work with since they had a tendency to split so leave some time for experimentation if you try this at home.

Late night prep for Christmas tamales.
Wrapped and ready to go!
Unwrapping the Christmas Tamale

Refried black beans and plantains served to round out the meal. I also served the food with tortillas and bread, the usual accompaniments to a Guatemalan cafe meal.

Fried plantains
Onions and garlic really pack a punch in this four ingredient side.

For beverages, we mashed up the idea of licuados (refreshing fruit beverages that is made with water or milk) with brunch. Jen served champagne with a scoop of tropical sorbet. Finally, for dessert, we enjoyed assorted chocolate from chocolarti guatemalan in Antigua.  Somehow, they managed to survive intact after being on top of a chicken bus in the Guatemalan sun for hours.


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