This is a traditional Guatemalan dish, from Pablo Murga, made to honour El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) on November 1. Fiambre evolved from the tradition of taking dead family members their favourite dishes to the cemeteries for the Day of the Dead celebration. As families brought different foods to the celebration and shared it with other families, the dish eventually evolved as an all-encompassing salad.
Ingredients usually include cold cuts and sausages, chicken, pickled baby corn and onion, beets, string beans, radishes, cheeses, olives, sometimes brussels sprouts and shrimp, all topped with an herbed oil and vinegar dressing. It takes several days to make and like all good traditional dishes, fiambre varies from kitchen to kitchen.
Note: The meats listed are a personal choice and the produce is what is common in Guatemalan cuisine.
- 4 c. thinly sliced carrots
- 2 c. thinly sliced green beans
- 2 c. peas
- 4 c. cauliflower florets
- 2 c. thinly sliced cabbage
- 2 c. thinly sliced onions
- 1 lb baby corn cobs
- 1 lb fava or broad beans, cooked
- 1/2 lb beets, sliced
Preparing the Curtido
Boil each of the vegetables separately in salted water until tender but not soft. Drain and reserve the water from the carrots, green beans and peas (this will be used as a stock). Discard the boiling water from the other vegetables.
- 1 1/2 c. vinegar
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 ginger root, chopped
- Salt, pepper, sugar
Preparing the Salmuera
Mix the stock with the marinade ingredients. Add the vegetables and season with salt, pepper and a sprinkling of sugar, then allow to marinate for two days in the fridge before final preparation.
- 1 small chicken (poached in water with thyme, bay leaf, 1 onion, a head of garlic and 2 large tomatoes)
- 8 oz ham, chopped
- 1/2 lb salted beef tongue, chopped
- 6 1”-pieces of chorizo
- 1/2 lb pork sausages, cut into chunks
- 1 can sardines in tomato sauce
Preparing the Meats
To poach the chicken, add thyme, bay leaves, onions, garlic and tomatoes to a large pot and fill with enough water to cover the chicken. Add the chicken and gently boil until cooked through, about 1 hour.
Remove the chicken from the rich broth, shred the meat, and add it back into the pot. Add the ham, salted beef tongue, chorizo and sausage to the pot and cook for another 15 minutes. Strain the broth and reserve the meat. Chill the broth in the refrigerator, then remove all the fat that may have formed on the surface. Reduce the broth to a thick consistency, about 1 cup. This will be used in the next step for the caldillo.
- 1/4 c. Dijon mustard
- 1 t. grainy mustard
- 4 T. chopped capers
- 1/2 c. chopped parsley
- 1/2 c. Manchego or Parmesan cheese
Preparing the Caldillo
Whisk the caldillo ingredients into the reduced meat stock. Remove the vegetables from the marinade, drain, and add to the caldillo; mix well. Leave in the refrigerator to marinate for one day.
Assembly & Garnish
- 1 head iceberg lettuce
- 1/4 lb cooked asparagus
- 1/2 c. black olives
- 3 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
- 2 boiled beets, sliced
- 3 boiled potatoes, sliced
- 1 jar small pickled onions or gherkins
- 1 bunch radishes, sliced
- 1/4 c. grated manchego or parmesan cheese
- 1 c. chopped parsley
- Olive oil
- 1 large red ripe jalapeño
Line a large platter with the iceberg lettuce, place some of the marinated vegetables on the lettuce, add some of the cooked meats and the tin of sardines in tomato sauce. Keep layering the vegetables and the meats until you run out of ingredients, finishing with meat. Decorate the top with the garnishes. Finish with the grated cheese, chopped parsley and olive oil to taste. Place the red jalapeño at the center of the dish.