Move over sweet potatoes and cranberries. It’s time to make room for some new additions on the holiday menu so don’t be surprised if you find tamales next to the holiday turkey. As America, the huge melting pot continues to combine together flavors and people from places near and far, you might also want to add latkes, lasagna and kolaczki too.

One of every two people added to the nation’s population between July 1, 2008, and July 1, 2009 was Hispanic, so the gap between tamales and the holiday table is continuing to narrow. Now is a great time to embrace culinary diversity on your holiday table.

Tamales have been a festive food since the time of the Aztecs. For many they have been traditional Christmas Eve fare for centuries because they’re portable, easy to store and inexpensive to make for large gatherings. Families of Latin origin consider that making and serving tamales for Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve, is as much a tradition as making and sharing Christmas cookies.

This magnificent dish from Latin America helps keep traditions alive. Making tamale recipes is often a family affair. If you make it “old style” it may take hours while involving parents, cousins, brothers, sisters, and friends. Through the years, the preparation of tamales became a social event, called a tamalada, as families gathered to prepare them for the holiday. If you make it “new style”, it may just take a steamer, and less time.

Tamale Steamers typically range from 12 qt to as large as 52 qt! IMUSA offers a Nested Tamale Steamer Set for space-saving convenience. Beyond the holiday season, stockpots are also used to make sancocho, a stew-like dish that is usually made in large quantities. Unlike tamales, sancocho is made quite regularly. Tamaleras with a steamer insert is also excellent for steaming fish and vegetables, SRP $19.99 -$ 49.99. Stockpots SRP $16.99 to 59.99. Available at www.cheflatino.com and other fine retailers.

For those that don’t have a weekend or even a whole day to make tamales, consider culinary expert, TV cooking show star and cookbook author, George Duran’s “new style” modern take on traditional holiday tamales. Duran grew up in Venezuela and is a Latin-cooking expert. In addition to his TV cooking shows, he is part of IMUSA’s Top Chef program. IMUSA is the global leader of the Hispanic housewares market and the Top Chef program is the first of its kind to showcase the best chefs from the world of Latin cooking.

Duran created this Pumpkin-Pie Tamale recipe for his friends and family who gather together to make and enjoy holiday tamales. You can watch George Duran make this recipe at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Y5ofKO8Z5s.

Must Have Pumpkin-Pie Tamales Recipes

by George Duran

Ingredients (Makes about 40-60 tamales)

40-60 dried corn husks
7 cups Maseca corn flour
2 Cups packed brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg 2 29-ounce cans of pumpkin puree
4 sticks of butter, melted
2 Cups of warm water
2 Cups of walnuts, chopped
2 Cups of raisins
Queso Fresco (optional)

Preparation

Fill a large bowl with warm water and soak corn husks until softened, about 30 minutes.

In an extra large bowl add Maseca corn flour and the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix together making sure that all of the clumps are broken up with your fingers. Then add all of the wet ingredients and once again, use your hands to mix the corn flour. Add more water as needed until you achieve the consistency of peanut butter. Fold in the walnuts and raisins.

Assemble the tamales by using a rubber spatula to spread ½ cup to 1 cup of dough mixture onto the corn husk, depending on the size of the corn husk. The spread should cover about two thirds of the husk, away from the pointed end, making sure you leave some space on each side to fold. Gently fold one side of the corn husk to the other end and fold up the pointed end across. Lay each tamale fold-side down. There should be an open end to each tamale.

Once the tamales are folded fill a 24 qt. Tamale Steamer with water just below the fill line and place the steam tray on the rack. Carefully place each tamale standing up on the steam tray without overloading it and bring water to a simmer. Steam with the lid on for 90 minutes.

Remove each tamale with tongs and let rest for a few minutes before serving it as a sweet side-dish or grated with queso fresco.

 According to Chef Duran, “Let’s face it, holidays have always been about the food. Hannukah has latkes. Thanksgiving has turkey. Independence Day has a barbecue. Christmas is no exception, especially in Latin America where I grew up. Tamales stuffed with pumpkin or even leftover turkey are a great way to extend this tradition. ¡buen provecho!”

 For more authentic Latin housewares, recipes and cooking techniques, visit http://www.IMUSAUSA.com. For more than 70 years, IMUSA has been the leading housewares brand serving Latin consumers in South, Central, and North America.