Paola Briseno Gonzalez
Paola Briseno Gonzalez

Paola Briseño González

Paola Briseño González is an avid cook from Puerto Vallarta, México, who wrote her first recipe for a Key lime cookie pie at age six. Her cooking is a reflection of her coastal roots and is fueled by her background in food anthropology and classical culinary training. When she is not organizing food festivals or cooking the perfect soft-scrambled eggs for singer J Balvin as his personal chef, she is the Director of Awards and Culinary Events at the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, a punk rock food writer, and her Old English Sheepdog, Fig.
A restaurant guide to Jalisco's capital city.
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All over the Mexican republic, you will find arroz served as a side in fluffy pilafs, sprinkled in chicken soups, used as a binder for albondigas, or used as the base for morisqueta, Mexico's unsung rice-bowl hero found in regions along the Pacific, specifically Michoacán. Morisqueta is essentially a taco in rice form: rice topped with a saucy pork, beef, or seafood guisado, beans, raw cabbage for texture, and some crema to pull it all together. Bone-in beef short ribs are essential for maximum flavor and texture in the dish—ask the butcher to cut the flanken through the bone into smaller pieces.
For event producer Paola Briseño González, tamales are a new holiday tradition—one that’s here to stay.
Salsa Macha
Rating: Unrated
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This outside-the box salsa is made from a fragrant blend of toasted chiles, garlic, peanuts, and sesame seeds. Spoon it over Tuna-Avocado Ceviche, grilled fish, quesadillas, tacos, Mexican-style street corn, salad, pizza, or crusty bread.
Lightly sweetened coconut rice pudding provides a custardy contrast to the tender masa in these dreamy dessert tamales. Drizzled with sweet and buttery goat’s milk caramel, they also make a festive holiday breakfast.
Ponche Navideño is a Christmastime spiced tropical fruit punch that's served warm with a shot of tequila in Mexico. Paola Briseño González's chilled riff on this holiday classic pays homage to her love of vermouth. Light and fragrant with perfectly balanced bitterness, it's refreshing and bright thanks to hibiscus, guava, apples, and mint.
Red Shrimp Snacking Tamales
Rating: Unrated
New!
Each two-bite, egg-shaped tamal cradles a shrimp encased in masa seasoned with chiles, garlic, and dried shrimp. At her holiday tamal-making parties, Paola Briseño González likes to make these ahead of time, for snacking on while drinking Guava Ponche with Sweet Vermouth and making main-course tamales with friends.
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These smoky braised-lamb tamales, favorite at event producer Paola Briseño González's holiday tamale parties, get a pop of freshness from bright cilantro-onion relish, while a wrapper of banana leaves perfumes the masa with a softly sweet aroma as they steam. The banana leaf wrappers also yield tamales with a dense, custard-like texture. The rich, slow-cooked flavor of lamb shanks is the perfect partner for the intense smokiness of morita chiles; substitute chipotles in a pinch.
Paola Briseño González often uses duck fat for her masa preparada for tamales but switches to shortening for vegetarian guests. Whether you grind your own homemade fresh masa or you pick some up at a local Latin market, it's the secret to perfect tamales. A dough made from masa harina can be used if fresh masa is unavailable, but it will lack the sweet corn aroma and fluffy texture of fresh masa. For convenient-yet-flavorful alternatives to fresh masa, try the masa harina from Masienda (from $7, masienda.com), made from single-origin heirloom corn sourced from Oaxaca, or Gold Mine's Organic Yellow Masa Harina (from $10, amazon.com).
Red Shrimp Snacking Tamales
Rating: Unrated
New!
Each two-bite, egg-shaped tamal cradles a shrimp encased in masa seasoned with chiles, garlic, and dried shrimp. At her holiday tamal-making parties, Paola Briseño González likes to make these ahead of time, for snacking on while drinking Guava Ponche with Sweet Vermouth and making main-course tamales with friends.
These smoky braised-lamb tamales, favorite at event producer Paola Briseño González's holiday tamale parties, get a pop of freshness from bright cilantro-onion relish, while a wrapper of banana leaves perfumes the masa with a softly sweet aroma as they steam. The banana leaf wrappers also yield tamales with a dense, custard-like texture. The rich, slow-cooked flavor of lamb shanks is the perfect partner for the intense smokiness of morita chiles; substitute chipotles in a pinch.
Paola Briseño González often uses duck fat for her masa preparada for tamales but switches to shortening for vegetarian guests. Whether you grind your own homemade fresh masa or you pick some up at a local Latin market, it's the secret to perfect tamales. A dough made from masa harina can be used if fresh masa is unavailable, but it will lack the sweet corn aroma and fluffy texture of fresh masa. For convenient-yet-flavorful alternatives to fresh masa, try the masa harina from Masienda (from $7, masienda.com), made from single-origin heirloom corn sourced from Oaxaca, or Gold Mine's Organic Yellow Masa Harina (from $10, amazon.com).
Paola Briseño González roasts oyster mushrooms, concentrating their flavor, for a hearty vegetarian tamale filling. Paired with velvety, intensely aromatic, and deeply savory peanut mole, or mole encacahuatado, these tamales satisfy everyone at the table.
Homemade Fresh Masa
Rating: Unrated
New!
To make fresh homemade masa for tortillas or tamales, you must first prepare nixtamal—dried corn soaked in an alkaline solution. Though this process of nixtamalization may sound intimidating, it's quite simple and requires only two key ingredients: dried dent corn and pickling lime, or cal, both of which are available at Latin markets and online. First-time masa makers should look for yellow dent corn, which has a high content of soft starch that will produce soft, pliable dough that is easy to work. (We like the Great River Organic Milling brand, available at amazon.com). Cal breaks down the outer hull of the corn and softens the starch within, making it more nutritious and easier to grind and form into a dough. While the corn needs to soak in the lime solution overnight, the resulting sweet corn flavor and texture are well worth the extra time. Event producer Paola Briseño González uses a metal Estrella molino, or mill, to grind the corn; she's also developed a genius food processor technique that yields excellent results. If using a processor, be sure to let the corn cook and soak a bit longer to ensure that it grinds evenly.
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