In Venezuela, December for many families means plenty of hallacas, a dish that has long been a staple of traditional holiday meals there. Similar to tamales, hallacas are often made in large batches, using individualized family recipes, and are shared with friends and family.
This month, Puyero restaurant at Fourth and South Streets put them on the menu, offering customers a taste of Christmas in Venezuela. Hallacas are made of corn dough stuffed with a stew of meat and vegetables. They're wrapped in plantain leaves, tied with string, and boiled.
Puyero's hallacas are made with chicken, potatoes, olives, and raisins, and are served nestled in a bright-green plantain leaf. Hallaca dough is rich and slightly cakelike, contrasting with the savory meat and bright flavors of the fillings.
Puyero is also serving traditional pan de jamón, a sweet-savory Christmas bread made with smoked ham, raisins, and olives. It's sold by the slice, but whole loaves can also be ordered. The hallacas and bread will be available through the end of the year.