Guatemalan Fiambre

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Guatemalan Fiambre is a festive dish, traditionally served just once a year, on November 1st. This is Dia de los Santos (All Saints Day), the first of a two day celebration followed by Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Guatemalan Fiambre

(Photo Attributed to Author: Alfiboy)

On Dia de los Muertos, Guatemalans have, for centuries, visited their deceased loved ones at the cemetery. They would bring incense, flowers, and a full plate of Fiambre to leave at the grave.

In modern times, Guatemalan Fiambre is most often shared with family and loved ones at home in more secluded celebrations.  There are many variations on the dish, and families typically have their own version that has been handed down from generation to generation.

This recipe is the “red style” of Guatemalan Fiambre (Fiambre Roja). It gets the red color from the use of beets.

You will want to prepare  your Fiambre least one day before serving, and two days ahead is better to start the preparations. This is because the flavor is enhanced by being marinated in caldillo – a sauce made with vinegar and some other special ingredients. Also, preparing Guatemalan Fiambre is a very involved, multiple step process. But don’t worry – you and the small army of people you can feed with it will be extremely pleased with the fruits of your labors!

Guatemalan Fiambre Recipe-

For the Caldillo-
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 6 tbsp. Dijon whole grain mustard 
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • salt, to taste
  • 5 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano
  • 1 quart apple cider vinegar
  • 1 pint extra virgin olive oil
For the Vegetables-
  • 32 oz. canned pacaya palms
  • 14 oz. canned heart of palm
  • 16 oz. pickled baby corn
  • ½ lb. fresh asparagus stalks, steamed until tender
  • 6 beets, washed, peeled and sliced
  • 6 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cups green beans
  • 1 white cauliflower, chopped into small florets
  • 1 cabbage, chopped into long, thin strips
  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts
  • 2 cups freshly shelled corn kernels
  • 16 oz. pickled baby onions
  • 16 oz. canned red beans
  • 16 oz. canned white beans
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 4 cups green peas
  • 16 oz fresh fava beans
  • 8 oz. capers
  • 4 oz. green olives
  • 4 oz. black olives
  • 8 oz. pimentos
  • 1 large head of lettuce
  • radish roses for garnish
For the Egg and Dairy-
For the Meats-
  • 16 oz. cecina (dried smoked and salted beef, “beef jerky”), cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 16 oz. boneless, skinless chicken
  • 16 oz. chorizo red sausage
  • 16 oz. yellow chorizo sausage
  • 16 oz. pork hot dogs, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 22 oz. longaniza sausage
  • 16 oz. mortadella, cut in large cubes
  • 16 oz. cooked ham, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 lb. salami, cut into bite-sized chunks
Two Days Before the Meal-
  1. Boil peas, corn, and fava beans, until tender.
  2. Boil cauliflower and cabbage together until tender.
  3. Boil the beets until just cooked through, but still a little firm.
  4. Boil the green beans and carrots until tenderized, but still a little firm.
  5. Note: don’t try to save time by cooking all the vegetable groups together. You will not get the same distinctive bouquet of flavor unless you boil each group separately, as listed above.
  6. Boil the chicken in a pot with the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. When cooked tender, allow it to cool and then skim the fat off the top. Strain the broth off through a sieve or colander over a large bowl, and reserve the broth.
  7. Now shred the cooked chicken and store it for now.
  8. In a blender, process the broth with the olive oil, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, and nutmeg. Blend until smooth.
  9. Simmer-cook the blended mixture in a sauce pan for 10 minutes; allow to cool, then place in a covered bowl and store in the refrigerator overnight.
The Day Before the Meal-
  1. Grille the chorizos until well cooked through and browned, then cut into bite-sized chunks.
  2. Combine all the vegetables in a very large bowl; pour the reserved chicken broth over the vegetables. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
The Morning of the Serving Day-
  1. On the big day, start early in the morning to assemble your Guatemalan Fiambre.
  2. On a large serving platter, lay a bed of lettuce leaves. Next, add a layer of one-half of the vegetables, followed by a layer of one-half of the (combined) meats and then one-half of the (combined) cheeses.  Repeat this layering, using up the other half of the veggies, meats and cheeses. Now garnish with the steamed asparagus spears, baby corns, pimientos, boiled eggs, olives and radishes. Cover the platter with Saran wrap and refrigerate.
  3. Serve your Guatemalan Fiambre well chilled.

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