Get Grilling on Memorial Day- Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Memorial Day is this coming Monday, May 29th, and for many it marks the official start of the late spring/summer grilling season. The chill of winter is long behind us and while the weather may remain on the cooler side for a couple more weeks, it's plenty warm enough to bust out the grill and start honing our outdoor cooking skills.

This year, Brookhaven Marketplace would like to encourage our customers to try something a little bit different: Instead of just cooking the usual steaks, hot dogs and burgers on the grill, try expanding your repertoire to other foods -- particularly fruits and vegetables. It's unfortunate, but most folks have not given grilled vegetables and fruits a chance (with the possible exception of many peoples' favorite, corn-on-the-cob). The fact is, grilling is suitable -- and even encouraged -- for a variety of produce, including eggplant, peaches, asparagus, and watermelon. It's just a matter of learning the process and complementing with the right proteins. You really can create a delicious meal, including the main course and all the sides, using just your grill!

Produce grilling recommendations

[info courtesy of &]


Eggplant, while common, doesn't tend to be seen much at cookouts or picnics during the summertime. But the fact is, eggplant is perfectly suited to being grilled. Just peel the eggplant and slice into 1 inch pieces lengthwise. Baste with a bit of olive oil and cook over medium heat until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with a nice grilled steak or fish, such as salmon.

Want a a more advanced take on grilled eggplant? Try this recipe for Grilled Eggplant Salad.


Asparagus is one of the easier vegetables to grill. Like eggplant, only a little prep is required; just trim the tough end of each piece and coat in olive oil. Asparagus can be placed directly on the grill – no foil required.

Asparagus is great served with grilled steaks, fish, burgers, and pork chops. It's a very versatile vegetable! For a good beginner's recipe for grilled asparagus, check here.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes can be cooked in a couple different ways on your grill. You have the option of slicing them into wedges and cooking directly on the grate with a bit of oil, or you can slice and wrap each 'tater in foil and set the packet off to the side of the cooking surface until they are cooked through (turning every 10 minutes for about half an hour).

Sweet potatoes go best with red meat, such as steaks, but grilled chicken or a nice pork loin would work too.

Portobello Mushrooms

Rather than serving as a side, this mushroom variety actually makes for a great meat patty substitution. If you are trying to limit your intake of red meat but you don't want to give up your burgers, portobello mushroom caps are the perfect stand-in. Portobellos are known for the meaty texture, and virtually anything you might find on an all beef burger would go well with a portobello. Interested? Here's a recipe for Portobello Burgers.


Unlike some of these other options, zucchini is frequently found at cookouts. However, most people tend to incorporate zucchini into over-baked casseroles rather than cooking them on the grill. Like sweet potatoes, however, zucchini holds up very well on the cooking grate, so long as the pieces are large enough to avoid falling through. The best method is to simply slice smaller zucchinis in half lengthwise and lay them across the grate horizontally. Here is a recipe for delicious Grilled Zucchini.

Serve your grilled zucchini with steaks, or fish such as salmon or tuna.


While not typically used as a side, watermelon – grilled watermelon, in particular -- is a great accompaniment for pretty much anything you're likely to make on the grill. Believe it or not, it tastes less sweet when grilled, which is why it can be served as part of the main course rather than just dessert. Simply slice the watermelon, grill until just softened, and cube (optional). Serve with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.


Much like grilling watermelon, cooking peaches on the grill reduces their sweetness factor. This makes them ideal for some types of salsas or chutney where other savory and spicy ingredients are used. However, grilled peaches are truly exceptional when used as part of a dessert. They can be grilled and served with ice cream or custard, or incorporated into a delicious topping for other confections. Grilled peaches are also exquisite on their own drizzled with a bit of honey or maple syrup, or sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar.

Try this recipe for Glazed Grilled Peaches and see what the fuss is about!


Grilled pineapple is one of summer's best treats and is becoming increasingly popular at cookouts and barbecues here in the States. It can be found on the grill alongside pork chops or chicken breasts, and frequently makes an appearance as one of the elements of sweet and savory summertime shish kabobs. Just core and slice your pineapple, and cook for a few minutes per side. The type is seasoning you choose should contrast the pineapples' native sweetness; try something spicy like hot pepper sauce for a rich, tangy flavor. If sweetness is your preference, try this recipe for basic Grilled Pineapple Slices, and serve with jumbo shrimp or pork chops.


Introducing the new, all natural line of Boar's Head deli meats: Simplicity- Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Brookhaven Marketplace has always been proud to provide our customers with the finest quality deli meats and cheeses. Among those, one of our most popular brands, Boar's Head, has always been front and center in our deli cases; they offer some fantastic, great-tasting products, all of which are of the highest quality. They've set a standard for themselves far out-stripping many other modern deli brands, and their newest line, Simplicity, is no exception.

The Boar's Head Simplicity line consists of natural, minimally processed deli meats, which contain no artificial colors, fillers or byproducts, and are also antibiotic-free. In addition to these features, all Simplicity products are:

  • Gluten-free

  • MSG-free

  • Contain no trans-fats from partially hydrogenated oils

  • Are derived from animals who've been humanely raised on a vegetarian diet

Currently, we are offering our customers four different Simplicity deli meats: All Natural Oven Roasted Beef, Roasted Turkey Breast, Uncured Ham, and Applewood Smoked Uncured Ham.

The Boar's Head All Natural Oven Roasted Beef has no artificial ingredients, is minimally processed and raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones. This top round roast beef is coated with salt, pepper, garlic and dehydrated horseradish root then slow roasted for exceptional flavor.

The All Natural Roasted Turkey Breast is oven roasted to perfection with sea salt and organic sugar. Gluten-free. Cut into thick slices (like a cutlet) and serve on a hearty wheat roll with lettuce and a spread of all natural cranberry sauce and mayo.

The Simplicity All Natural Uncured Ham is gluten free with no preservatives, and contains no nitrates or nitrites, except those naturally occurring in sea salt & celery powder. Cut in thick slices and serve on a hearty wheat roll with lettuce and tomato.

Last but not least, the All Natural Applewood Smoked Uncured Ham is also gluten-free with no preservatives, contains only naturally occurring nitrates/nitrites, and, like it's un-smoked cousin, comes from animals that were raised with no added hormones. Experience the great smoky flavor with no artificial ingredients. Enjoy for breakfast with scrambled eggs.


While we can't emphasize enough just how wonderful these meats are, we understand if you may require a little more convincing. To help promote the Simplicity lineup, all of our stores will be hosting a tasting for these new Boar's Head products. The schedule is as follows...

Mokena 5/20/17 from 9 AM to 3 PM.

Darien 5/21/17 from 9 AM to 3 PM.

Burr Ridge 5/22/17 from 10 AM to 4 PM

We hope to see you there!


Here's to mom! - Mother's Day gift ideas- Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Everyone here at Brookhaven Marketplace would like to offer a shout out to all of the moms out there in the Chicagoland area and beyond. You provide so much for your families, bestowing both love and emotional support, and providing a guiding hand. You are the light in the lives of so many people, and you deserve recognition for your care and hard work. Happy Mother's Day to you all!

For all the children out there, young and old alike, now is the time to prepare something nice for your mom this year. Sunday, May 14th is the big day, and we have a few suggestions for you to help make your own mother's day just a little bit brighter. Show her you appreciate her with the one or more of the following:

For the older or adult children everywhere:

1) Give your mom the day off. Take over any tasks she has for the day and allow her to simply relax and enjoy some peace.

2) Take her shopping. This is an especially fun idea for moms and daughters. Try taking mom to the mall or her favorite local clothing store(s) and make a game of trying clothes on. Offer to buy her any item of her choice.

3) Take her out to lunch or dinner, or prepare her a nice meal at home. This is a pretty conventional Mother's Day gift idea, but it is still a great one. Most mothers are far too busy to put a lot of thought into a particular meal, but today is a great opportunity for you to do so. Make her something special, even if it's just one or more of her favorite foods.

4) Go see a movie or concert together. Let mom choose the film or venue, and don't let her pay for anything! Don't forget to pick up a souvenir or two if you have the opportunity.

5) If you're one of many people who is pressed for time but you still want to recognize mom for the wonderful person she is, there's nothing wrong with buying her some lovely flowers and a card. The whole point of Mother's Day is to let her know she's loved, and flowers and a well considered card can serve this purpose. Just make sure you buy her blossoms you know she likes for that little bit of extra personalization.

Ideas for the younger kids:

1) Help make mom breakfast in bed. Dad or an older sibling may need to be involved with this one. Let mom sleep in, of course, but once she's had a couple extra hours, bring her some something delicious for breakfast. Oatmeal, pancakes, or eggs and toast are all great options...And don't forget the OJ or coffee!

2) Make her a Mother's Day card at home. All you need are construction paper or card stock and some markers or crayons. Let mom know how much you love and appreciate her.

3) Try to limit how much you demand mom's attention. If you can, let mom have a nice, quiet day.

4) For the somewhat older kids, do any chores you may have without mom having to ask first. She'll be pleasantly surprised to find her house in order without any intervention on her part.

5) Pick some wild flowers and assemble a her little bouquet.

6) Give her lots of hugs.

How much do you know about Cinco de Mayo?- Tuesday, May 2, 2017

While not as widely and thoroughly celebrated as other holidays in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has seen a huge uptick in popularity over the past decade. Part of the reason for this is, of course, the more recent commercialization of the holiday; many industries saw an opportunity to sell more ethnic food, beverages and other wares, and began encouraging and providing services to the Mexican-American community. Simultaneously, this commercialization has resulted in a greater awareness of, and interest in, Mexican customs here in the U.S., which can only be considered beneficial.

Unfortunately, in spite of many people taking an interest in the festivities of Cinco de Mayo, especially the traditional foods and beverages associated with it, not many understand the history behind it, which is important to the spirit of the holiday for many people. It's just fine to go out and party with friends and family on the 5th of May – in fact, we here at Brookhaven Marketplace encourage you to enjoy the celebrations either at home or in your area! But for perspective, remember to keep the following bit of history in mind...

[info courtesy of and]

The truth about Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is widely misunderstood in this country, even by people of Mexican descent. The biggest misconception about Cinco de Mayo is that it commemorates México's Independence Day. That holiday is, in fact, celebrated on September 16. On that date back in 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo issued a proclamation known as "El Grito de Dolores" that united the many different rebellions going on against Spain into one cohesive struggle. Cinco de Mayo is actually a commemoration of a victory by Mexican troops in La Batalla de Puebla more that fifty years later, on May 5, 1862.

From the time of Mexican Independence in 1821 to the time of this battle in 1862, México suffered numerous setbacks in its attempts to form a stable republic, and endured several incursions from outside forces. Fifteen years into its independence, Texas seceded from México. This revolt eventually led to the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), a war won by the U. S. As a result, México was forced to surrender approximately half of its territory to the U. S.

President Benito Juárez inherited México's troubled political and financial situation, which included a bankrupt Mexican treasury. As a result of these problems, President Juárez issued a moratorium in 1861 halting payments on Mexican foreign debt. Much of this debt was owed to France. Shortly thereafter, France sent troops to México to secure payment of its debt.

At the time, the French Army of Napoleon III was considered the premier army in the world. It had enjoyed recent victories throughout Europe and Asia. The French expected to march from the port city of Veracruz to Mexico City without encountering much resistance. President Juárez sent troops, under the command of General Ignacio Zaragosa, to Puebla to confront the French. General Zaragosa's troops, were outnumbered and severely under-equipped. La Batalla de Puebla raged on for two hours, after which time the French were forced to retreat.


Sweet, refreshing cantaloupe- Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Everyone has their favorite summer melon. For most, the watermelon has become iconic; look at stock photos of picnicking families and you will see it frequently, often alongside sandwiches, hot dogs or burgers. The reality is, come warm weather watermelon is available everywhere, and it dominates the produce department from May all the way through August. But the second most recognizable melon, the cantaloupe, is available year-round and never goes out of style. Unlike its more watery cousin, the cantaloupe is popular because its flesh is similarly sweet but much more dense, making it far better for recipes and anyone who prefers to bite into a firmer fruit.

[info courtesy of &]

Many varieties of cantaloupes are grown all over the world. However, two common types have become popular in the western world. The European cantaloupe (Cucumis melo cantalupensis) derives its name from the Italian papal village of "Cantalup" and features lightly-ribbed, pale green skin that looks quite different from the North American cantaloupe. Galia melon and charentais belong to this category. North American cantaloupe (Cucumis melo reticulatus), famous in the United States and some parts of Canada, is named reticulatus due to its net-like (or reticulated) skin covering.

In general, cantaloupe fruits feature round or oblong shape, measure 4.5- 6.5 inches in diameter and weigh 1-2 pounds. Internally, its flesh color ranges from orange-yellow to salmon, has a soft consistency and juicy texture with a sweet, musky aroma that emanates best in the completely ripe fruits.

What's so great about cantaloupes?

They help boost the immune system. Cantaloupes not only have the beta-carotene and phytochemicals working in its favor against free radicals, but also a healthy dose of vitamin-C. Vitamin C similarly scavenges disease-causing free radicals and act as an important line of defense for a healthy immune system. Also, vitamin-C stimulates the production of white blood cells, which seek out and destroy dangerous bacteria, viruses, and other toxic substances.

Cantaloupes may help in preventing cancer. Cantaloupes are rich sources of beneficial nutrients, including beta-Carotene, an essential carotenoid that the body requires and a powerful antioxidant. It has been linked to reduced chances of a number of different types of cancer, and the phytochemicals present in fresh fruit like cantaloupes have also been linked to anti-tumor behavior.

Cantaloupes contain substances which are known to help maintain eye health. Cantaloupes contain carotenoids, which are associated with a reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, as is the vitamin-C content of cantaloupes.

Cantaloupes have a high amount of dietary fiber, which is an essential component of healthy bowel movements and digestive health. Eating a proper amount of dietary fiber can bulk up your stool and reduce your chances of becoming constipated, and can make your bowel movements more regular and consistent. By insuring a smooth flow through your digestive tract and colon, you reduce your risk of colorectal cancer and other dangerous gastrointestinal conditions.

Eating cantaloupes is good for your skin. Cantaloupes are wonderful places to find beta-carotene, which is the precursor to vitamin-A. The body converts the beta-carotene into vitamin-A, which enters the skin and stimulates the membranes of skin cells and increases regrowth and repair.

They help reduce stress and anxiety. Potassium is one of the essential nutrients found in cantaloupes. Potassium has been shown to relax blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. Excited levels of blood pressure can act as a stressor on the body, and can even induce the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Potassium also increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain and reduce the presence of stress hormones in the body, which can seriously reduce symptoms of anxiety.

The phytochemicals in cantaloupe also have anti-inflammatory qualities. This means that having a proper amount of cantaloupe in your diet can help prevent oxidative stress on your joints and bones, thereby reducing inflammation. Chronic inflammation of these vital areas can lead to conditions like arthritis.

Cantaloupe Recipes

There are plenty of ways to consume cantaloupe aside from raw... Not that there is anything wrong with a nice, juicy slice or cube of cantaloupe. However, eating raw cantaloupe is common; most of us have enjoyed melon slices and fruit salad numerous times over the courses of our lives. Consider this an opportunity to experiment a little with this wonderful fruit, rather than doing the same old thing!

Grilled Sea Bass with Cantaloupe-Lime Salsa

Chicken Cantaloupe Salad

Cantaloupe and Blueberries with Vanilla Sauce

Easy Fruit Tarts

Cold Melon Soup 


It's time to celebrate Earth Day – April 22nd- Tuesday, April 18, 2017


At this point in our history, humans have become the custodians of Earth, and as its caretakers it is up to us to ensure that its (and our own) future is protected. For the past several decades, we've dedicated one particular day per year to educating humanity about the importance of taking responsibility for our environment and the world future generations will inherit. This day is known as Earth Day, and is celebrated by hundreds of millions of environmentally-conscious people worldwide.

[info courtesy of]

The History
The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California...He wanted to infuse more energy into the emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution in the hopes that it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda.  Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

Earth Day reached its current status as the largest secular observance in the world by the early 2000s, and is celebrated by more than a billion people every year. Earth Day is intended to be a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes... and today, the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency.

The Mission
Earth Day Network’s mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 50,000 partners in nearly 200 countries to build environmental democracy. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. We work through a combination of education, public policy, and consumer campaigns.

Brookhaven Marketplace strongly supports Earth Day and its message of environmental awareness. In appreciation of this event and as a way to help the environment in some small way, we are offering 5% off anything you can fit into one of Brookhaven's reusable tote bags on Saturday, April 22nd. If you don't already own one, the bags are available in-store for $1 each.

Happy Earth Day!



Don't shy away from serving lamb this Easter- Tuesday, April 11, 2017

If you're the one hosting this year, then you are already well aware that Easter is this Sunday. There are only a few short days before the holiday, and if you are the careful, deliberating type, it's likely you've already selected your main course; perhaps you even have it ready and waiting in the refrigerator or freezer for the big day. However, for the indecisive among us, Brookhaven Marketplace has a suggestion: Why not serve a nice, tender leg of lamb to your guests this year? You can purchase a domestically-raised, whole leg of lamb from Brookhaven Marketplace this week for $3.99 lb. ($7.99 lb. boneless), and we would be delighted to help take the guesswork out of preparing it.

As we've pointed out in prior blogs on this subject, many people are reluctant to try a leg of lamb as their main holiday dish because they are under the impression that lamb is difficult to prepare. Others are concerned about the flavor, which has been described by some as "gamy". However, please don't allow either of these criticisms to prevent you from trying out lamb this year. In actuality, leg of lamb is one of the easiest meat cuts out there to cook, and while the flavor is not as mild as beef or pork, it is nonetheless delicious if cooked properly.

For the best results for your lamb, here is a straight-forward recipe courtesy of

Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary
Servings: About 8


1 (7-pound) semi-boneless leg of lamb, aitchbone removed, fat trimmed to 1/4 inch thick, and lamb tied

4 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon fine sea salt

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup dry red wine or beef broth


  • Pat lamb dry and score fat by making shallow cuts all over with tip of a sharp small knife.

  • Pound garlic to a paste with sea salt using a mortar and pestle (or mince and mash with a heavy knife) and stir together with rosemary and pepper.

  • Put lamb in a lightly oiled roasting pan, then rub paste all over lamb. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Roast lamb in middle of oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted 2 inches into thickest part of meat (do not touch bone) registers 130°F, about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours.

  • Transfer to a cutting board and let stand 15 to 25 minutes (internal temperature will rise to about 140°F for medium-rare).

  • Add wine to pan and deglaze by boiling over moderately high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Season pan juices with salt and pepper and serve with lamb.

The next tricky bit to serving lamb is deciding on side dishes. Fortunately, you have a lot of flexibility in this area because lamb is quite savory with a distinct flavor that isn't likely to be overwhelmed by well-seasoned accompaniments. Here's a selection of recipes that would go well with your roasted lamb:

Mashed Potatoes with Cilantro and Scallion

Bacon and Mustard Mashed Potatoes

Couscous and Radish Salad

Mediterranean Couscous

Mint and Feta Rice

Brown Rice Milanese

Risotto with Portobello Mushrooms and Roasted Asparagus

Marinated Asparagus Salad

Greek Country Salad

Spinach Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing



Try one of our Easter Dinner Packages- Tuesday, April 4, 2017

As many of you already know, Brookhaven Marketplace offers catering and/or dinner packages to our customers throughout the year, but we are especially well known for our delicious homemade holiday meals. This month, we are offering an assortment of entrees for Easter, including Sweet Slice Ham from Boar's Head and domestic Roasted Leg Of Lamb. In addition to the two meat options, you can choose from a variety of fresh, home-cooked sides to complement your main dish; try our Mashed Potatoes or Green Bean Almondine, or broaden your horizons a little with our Greek Potatoes. If neither of the aforementioned entrees appeals to you and your family, we also offer pasta dishes, including Baked Ziti and Lasagna Marinara.

In addition to the standard entrees and side dishes, Brookhaven also offers appetizers and desserts for the full catering experience. Our Smoked Salmon Crostini and Miniature Pastry Tray (which includes cannolis, tiramisu and cream puffs to name a few options), are two customer favorites.

So, if you want to let someone someone else take on the stress of cooking this Easter and you are interested in more details on our offerings, feel free to contact us at 1-855-55-CATER and get the full scoop. If you already know what you want, you can place an order at the above number, or submit your order here online at

See below for some of our menu items and pricing.



Quality – Choice – Variety: Pick 2... N’ah, you get all 3!- Tuesday, March 28, 2017

We’d be the first to admit that today’s consumers have loads of choices when it comes to shopping for groceries. You can go anywhere from an all organic, non-GMO gourmet boutique to a cut box, no-frills box store where you get low ball prices on what is available at the time.

At Brookhaven Marketplace, we believe in giving you the best that an independent family owned business can offer at what we believe are very competitive prices. And we make certain that our buyers go out of their way to find unique and sometimes unusual mix of items that shoppers love to try.

We think that this week’s ad is a great reflection of that philosophy; you will find choices, quality and great prices on basic grocery needs. Allow us to share some examples:


The Basics at GREAT Prices

As you flip through this week’s eight-page ad you will come across great savings on basic groceries that any home would regularly place on a shopping list.

For example:

Rye Bread 1 ½ lb. $2.99

Milk gl. $2.49

Butter 1 lb. $2.99

Chicken Drumsticks 69¢ lb.

Ice Cream 56 oz. 99¢

Strawberries 1 lb. $1.99

Eggs 1 ½ dz. $1.59

Bacon 1 lb. $2.99

Pasta 16 oz. 88₵


Best Quality

Again, as you page through please note the focus on quality:

  • USDA Prime and Choice beef

  • Miller Amish Country® natural chicken

  • Complete selection of Boar’s Head® meats and cheeses

  • Over a dozen USDA Organic produce and dairy products

  • A selection of our exclusive homemade Brookhaven prepared foods.


Unique Variety

Our motto is “The finest foods from around the world”. As you walk the aisles of our stores, we know that you will find that borne out in the thousands of unique items found only at Brookhaven. In this week’s ad you will find things like:

  • Imported olive oil

  • Lumpini beans

  • Buckwheat

  • Marinated artichoke hearts

  • Gelato

  • Kefir
  • Lactose-free milk
  • Bulgarian style yogurt
  • Organic coconut oil
  • Gluten-free bread

We really appreciate our customers and it is through your continued support that we can offer what we believe is the most pleasant and fulfilling grocery shopping experience in our area. To show off some of that heartfelt appreciation, we will be holding a special one-day event. We have dubbed it our April Fools Ridiculous Sale. Check out page seven of this week’s ad and don’t be fooled, these prices are for real for 1-Day-Only.

April Fools! …No, it’s for real, we mean it…really!


Try our Original Recipe Tamales this week!- Tuesday, March 21, 2017

This week, Brookhaven Marketplace is featuring a customer favorite, our Original Recipe Tamales with cheese, chicken or pork filling. If you've never tried them, we encourage you to stop by and pick up a 3-pack for only $4.99.

[info courtesy of,, &]

For those who may not be familiar with tamales, they are made by wrapping various ingredients in a heavy corn dough, and then wrapping corn husks or corn leaves around the dough to create a packet. The packets are then steamed. The finished tamales are typically eaten plain, although they may be accompanied by sides, such as wholes or refried beans.

Contrary to popular belief, a tamale need not be savory. In addition to filling tamales with ingredients like spicy shredded chicken, pork, or beef, some people also fill them with chocolate or fruit. It is also possible to find vegetarian tamales with ingredients like black beans, yams, and so forth. Typically tamales are also heavy on the chilies and other spices, making them zesty as well as nutritious.

Many people associate tamales specifically with Mexican cuisine, which boasts various regional specialties featuring an assortment of ingredients ranging from chocolate to shredded beef. However, tamales are also popular in other parts of Latin America, and they were once eaten by Native North Americans on a fairly regular basis. Indeed, tamales have a long history dating back to the Aztecs themselves. They called the tamales tamalli. In the Aztec language, the word simply means "wrapped food". At that time, they were made in different sizes and shapes in dishes and often served at festivals and ceremonies. The Aztecs would cook the tamales by burying them under hot coals. However, by the time the Spanish conquistadores arrived, the Aztecs had transitioned to cooking the the tamales in underground pits or uncovered pots.

Nutritionally, tamales have a lot to offer. The corn dough is typically made with masa, a form of nixtamalized* corn. The corn dough is highly nutritious as a result, and the filling may add to the nutritional value of the tamales with ingredients like protein-rich meats and fresh produce. Tamales are also extremely convenient, as the steamed packets can be wrapped in foil and easily carried on trips.

* refers to a process for the preparation of maize (corn), or other grain, in which the corn is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, washed, and then hulled. -- Wikipedia

Interested in preparing your own tamales? Try this recipe:


Tamale Filling

  • 1 1/4 pounds pork loin

  • 1 large onion, halved

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 4 dried California chile pods

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Tamale Dough

  • 2 cups masa harina

  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can beef broth

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2/3 cup lard

  • 1 (8 ounce) package dried corn husks

  • 1 cup sour cream


Place pork into a Dutch oven with onion and garlic, and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the meat is cooked through, about 2 hours.

  1. Use rubber gloves to remove stems and seeds from the chile pods. Place chiles in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, then remove from heat to cool. Transfer the chiles and water to a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture, stir in salt, and set aside. Shred the cooked meat and mix in one cup of the chile sauce.

  2. Soak the corn husks in a bowl of warm water. In a large bowl, beat the lard with a tablespoon of the broth until fluffy. Combine the masa harina, baking powder and salt; stir into the lard mixture, adding more broth as necessary to form a spongy dough.

  3. Spread the dough out over the corn husks to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Place one tablespoon of the meat filling into the center. Fold the sides of the husks in toward the center and place in a steamer. Steam for 1 hour.

  4. Remove tamales from husks and drizzle remaining chile sauce over. Top with sour cream. For a creamy sauce, mix sour cream into the chile sauce.