Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a special way to honor and celebrate those no longer with us is by preparing a delicious meal. Celebrity chef, Ingrid Hoffmann’s “Crunchy Ham Taco with Guava Chutney, Pickled Onions and Queso Fresco” is a twist on a traditional taco. Add a “La Tradición” cocktail by NYC mixologist Juan David Marin made with chocolate bitters to guarantee this spirited annual revelry is anything but sour.

Día de los Muertos is observed throughout Mexico, Latin America, and the United States. It’s a holiday where we honor family and friends that have passed and create beautiful altars with marigolds, sugar skull cookies (calatravas), candles and a few of our family members’ favorite things. It’s also a holiday that’s become known for the delicious food shared with family and friends.

Read Related: Celebrate Dia de los Muertos with Chicken Chipotle Enchiladas

Serves: 6
Prep Time: 45 min.
Cook Time: 10 min.

For the Pickled Onions:
1 ½ cups red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup cilantro leaves
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup water
⅛ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. pepper

For the Spicy Guava Chutney (makes 3 ½ cups):
½ cup white vinegar
½ cup golden raisins
1 red onion, chopped
⅓ cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, ribbed and finely chopped
2-inch piece gingerroot, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 green apple, peeled, halved, cored, and cubed
1 (14 oz) can guava shells in syrup, drained and chopped

For the Tacos:
12 yellow corn tortillas
4 cups Smithfield Spiral Hickory Smoked Ham, sliced in strips, divided non-stick cooking spray (or ⅓ cup olive oil)
1 ½ cups queso fresco, crumbled

For the Pickled Onions:
In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

For the Chutney:
1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add vinegar and stir in raisins, onion, peppers, ginger, garlic and allspice. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
2. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the onions and peppers are tender; approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Add the guava shells and apple and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until fruit begins to break down and mixture thickens to a jam consistency; about 25 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Refrigerate any leftover chutney in a tight sealed container for up to 1 week.

For the Tacos:
1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
2. Working in two batches: wrap 2 tortillas in a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 30 seconds to steam.
3. Carefully spray each tortilla with non-stick cooking spray on each side. If using olive oil, lightly coat each tortilla side using a pastry brush.
4. Drape tortillas over two bars of the oven’s cooking rack and bake for 8-10 minutes until crisp and golden. Repeat with second batch of tortillas.
5. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Lightly pan fry ham strips for 2 minutes, stirring frequently to cook evenly.
6. To serve fill each crunchy taco shell with ⅓ cup ham strips, 2-3 tablespoons chutney and 2-3 tablespoons onions. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons queso fresco and enjoy.


Makes: 1 drink (no more than 0.6 fl oz alcohol)
Serving Glass: rocks glass

1.5 oz Buchanan’s Special Reserve
1 oz of sweet vermouth
3 dashes of chocolate bitters
1 orange peel for garnish

1. Add the Buchanan’s Special Reserve, the sweet vermouth and the chocolate bitters into a mixing glass or any tall glass with ice
2. Mix well using a bar spoon
3. Strain into a rocks glass
4. Garnish with an orange peel

Taco Recipe by chef Ingrid Hoffmann. Photo courtesy Smithfield Foods.
Cocktail recipe by mixologist Juan David Marin. Photo courtesy Buchanans