First up is the Tamales de Cambray, which we decide to do in banana leaves.
Because of the limited class time (about four hours), our instructor (Chef Debbie) and her assistants have done some prep for us. But we peel the roasted chilies and tomatoes and slice and dice them. The chilies are pureed with some garlic.
A mix of tomatoes, onions, garlic, raisins, capers, chopped green olives, plantains and spices (guajillo chile powder, thyme, marjoram) is heated on the stovetop.
Three kinds of meat have been pre-cooked for us (flank steak, pork, chicken). We prep the banana leaves by trimming the vein, wiping them down, cutting into 12 inch squares and briefly running them over the gas burners' flame. Smaller pieces are peeled into narrow strips for ties. The saucepan contents and chilies are added to the meat mix.
At the same time, the masa mix is in the blender. Masa, water, lard, some broth from the cooked meat and some additional stock, plus salt.
And a bottle of rum is passed around.
Ha, just kidding! Though we were all working pretty hard and felt deserving.
The rum was added to some raisins, which were left to soak for our dessert tamales.