“Do you want to go to a tamales cooking class with us on Saturday?”, a friend of mine asked. My response was an immediate yes, considering that I had been fun-employed and didn’t really have a ton going on.. But, I had to pause for a moment after I agreed to attend, considering that I’d never eaten a tamale in my life.
I knew a bit of the concept: Masa, husks… surely the process would be fun, and the outcome would be delicious. I had no idea what a delicious thing this would be.
On Saturday morning, I bundled up and headed to Stir Cooking School in Denver. Located in the Highlands area and not too far from where I lived, this area of town is trendy and up-and-coming, and this little cooking school fit the mold for sure.
Photo Credit: Stir Cooking School
I walked in and was visually greeted by their bright-colored kitchen and festive atmosphere. Most of the attendees had already arrived and were dressed in aprons and ready to get their tamale on. They were also serving pomegranate mimosas as it was a late morning class, so I had to have one of those, of course.
The instructor led us through the process of how to make the tamales. Little did I know the process we were about to undertake. I believe tamales may be best made when you have a team of people to help. It’s labor-intensive, but definitely worth it.
Our group quickly whipped up our masa and began assembling tomatillo pork tamales. There were additional stations nearby for chipotle chicken tamales and black bean tamales. The groups rotated through the cooking areas to get experience making all the flavors, and the instructors had prepared the meats and beans ahead of time to allow for ease of assembly.
Here’s my very first tamale. It’s stuffed with pork, and I’m sure it was the best one in the batch!
While the tamales steamed (for about 45 minutes!) we busied ourselves learning how to make a roasted tomatillo salsa, the chipotle sauce that was used for the chicken, and making dessert tamales!
Wow… dessert tamales. I didn’t even know there was such a thing! Imagine a sweetened (cookie dough-like) masa with pineapple jam, crushed pineapple, and dried cherries. Uh-mazing… and fun to assemble.
After we finished our tamale lessons, we got to taste test our creations. Filling our plates with tamales, we headed upstairs to the class dining area to enjoy our hard work.
And, I was SERIOUSLY impressed with what we made. A tamale virgin prior to class, I was shocked at how I’d missed out on tamales all my life until now. The chicken was delicious, the pork was phenomenal, and the dessert tamale? So, so good!
To make things even better, they sent us home with the class leftovers! I brought home two chicken and two pork tamales (and two dessert tamales!) I rightfully ate one serving of each, and then popped the others in the freezer to enjoy at a later time. I think about breaking them out just about every day… every. single. day.
Overall, the experience at Stir was fantastic! I’ve taken other cooking classes in the city, but this one is definitely my favorite. The atmosphere, the music, the recipes, the people… it was all so fun.
They have a full schedule of cooking classes throughout the year. If you’re local to Denver, I highly recommend you check them out. I know I have my eyes on a pasta workshop in January and maybe a tapas class in February! Loved this place, and loved those tamales!