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Nov 20, 2010 12:51 PM

A Mexican Thanksgiving

Spending the day with friends, including a couple from Europe, so it's the perfect occasion for a non-traditional Thanksgiving. It will also be easier to cook in a couple of kitchens and then bring things over to be finished when necessary in the host's rather small kitchen. We live in San Diego so virtually any Mexican ingredient is available to us. The idea is to create a menu that uses standard American ingredients but in Mexican dishes and flavors--Turkey Mole Enchiladas are likely to be the main course...everything else is up for discussion. I hope to incorporate pumpkin, potatoes, cubed bread and whatever else would work well. I thought this would be the perfect place to get creative ideas. Care to contribute? Thanks.

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      1. re: paulj

        This is a great suggestion. Zarela also has a really good turkey recipe - Pavo Horneado y Jugo de Pavo La Parroquia (La Prrouquiz's Oven Roasted Turkey & Turkey Gravy - in her Veracruz book that I've done for Thanksgiving on occasion. Check the recipe out at a bookstore or library. It's pretty simple and the results were really flavorful. For the dressing I made a Dean Fearing recipe that appeared in Food & Wine in 2008 that was pretty good. It used corn tortilla strips that had been deep fried, corn bread and regular bread bound together with a stock make from corn tortillas. I think there was some chorizo in the stuffing too. It was a huge amount of work, but very good. Would I make it again, maybe, but I'd have to be in the right mood for it

        Here are some other suggestions:
        Chile Glazed Sweet Potaotes (recipe is in Rick Bayless Mexican Kitchen)

        Enselada Noche Buena (traditional salad served in Mexico at Xmas. Uses beets and oranges as the base. I have a recipe if you want it). If this does't appeal, Susanna Trilling has a Jicama & Pineapple salad that is dynamite. I know pineapple and jicama sound mundane, but this is a really good salad.

        There is a very flashy, and yes, a bit time consuming, dish from the Yucatan that is essentially a 2# gouda hollowed out and stuffed with a picadillo. Makes a great appetizer and serves a lot

        There is also a cauliflower enrobed in guacamole that sounds weird but is pretty popular

        Carrots can be glazed with a simple mixture of butter, honey and a toasted, soaked and pureed dried red chile, toss in some pecans at the end. Cascabel woudl be your best bet for dried chile but it's is not readily availabe in SD. Pasilla would be a better choice than ancho, but both would be better than guajillo.

        If you want to go the mole route, check out Susana Trilling's book Seasons of My Heart. She has all 7 moles of Oaxaca in it. The Colordadito is very, very good and not horrible to do. If you're not used to making mole I would recommend staying away from the Mole Negro as it is hard to do. However, since you live in Escondido, you could pop into Northgate and see if they've got mole pastes in bulk. Barring that how would you feel about a quick trip down to Mercado Hidalgo in Tijuana. They would , for sure, have the commercial mole pastes that you just need to reconstitute with broth or stock.

        Savory empanadas with lime crema also make a good starter

        Capriotada for dessert, I think you could incorporate pumpkin into it

        Tres Leches cake, include rompope (easily available in SD) into the milk mixture, fill layers with a pumpking mousse.

        Pumpkin Cajeta flan. Use commerical cajeta (Coronado brand, can be found at Northgate) for the caramel.

        Serve with Cranberry Margaritas, Chili-Guava Margaritas (that recipe is here on Chow) or Champagne Margaritas

        And nuts, nuts - glazed and spiced or salted and spiced - are very common in Mexico, especially at bars and outdoor cafes :-)

      2. Thanks for the suggestions. I've been browsing for recipes and wonder if anyone knows whether some kind of fish and potato cakes would ever be a Mexican dish? And is there any way to tweek a pumpkin bread pudding--a play on stuffing--so it would be a Mexican dessert? Still trying to stick with the them.

        4 Replies
          1. re: bear

            I'm scared of screwing up the caramel in the bottom. Any hints on how to avoid disaster?

            1. re: escondido123

              You can use a recipe that calls for a little water mixed with the sugar before carmelizing for a bit of a safety net. Make sure you don't stir with a spoon. Just swirl the pan until you get the desired color.

              I don't have a tried-and-true pumpkin flan recipe. I made pumpkin creme brulee last year and it was very good, so I'm sure the flan would be delicious too.

              1. re: bear

                the carmel in the bottom is super easy. here's how you do it. For four ramekins (so 4 servings), get a 10 inch heavy frying pan onto your stove. Pour in 1/3 cup white granulated sugar. Give it a gentle shake to spread everything out. Now turn the heat on to medium-low. Stay with it. Every minute or so give the pan a shake. After about 5 minutes, the sugar will start to melt. Only now can you even consider touching it with a wooden spoon, but even still I shake until it is at least 1/2 melted. Once it is 1/2 melted, gently stir with a wooden spoon until it is all melted and just browned past golden. That's it. Your done. Pour it into the ramekins. Now, put the pan back onto the stove. Once you've poured your boiling water into the pan holding the ramekins in the oven (for the water bath) pour the rest of that water into the frying pan. That's the only way you'll ever get the darn thing clean. Congrats. You've made flan. (I leave the actual flan recipe to your discretion, it's just a custard after all)

        1. Sounds delicious! How about substituting chorizo for crumbled sausage in stuffing?

          3 Replies
          1. re: el Mitch

            I'm making turkey enchiladas, so there's not stuffing. But thought a bread pudding would have the stuffing idea because of the cubed bread.

            1. re: escondido123

              Bread "pudding" can be prepared as a savory dish (Strata) too so just about any complimentary savory ingredients would get you on that route.
              As long as you keep the pre-heated oven at a relatively low (approx. 325 degrees) and don't overcook your caramel before swirling it into your ramekins (or baking dish) ahead of the custard and remember to use a water bath to bake the flan you shouldn't have to worry about burning the caramel bottom. Be sure to keep the oven rack at mid-oven.

              1. re: escondido123

                Even though you don't "need" stuffing.... I've used a really good recipe for Southwest corn bread stuffing with corn and green chilies from which would be a mighty tasty side. As for dessert - there are a couple of threads on "My Sweet Mexico", a wonderful new dessert and sweets cookbook. You might find some of the recipes on line or have time to get the book from the library.


            2. This reminds me of a piece in the Washington Post by a man who had come here from Cuba with his family years ago. A neighbor told his mother they were supposed to eat turkey on Thanksgiving so she served it with black beans and rice. The neighbor also told her to serve hot rolls so Mother served the only rolls she knew of, croissants, and added guava jelly. And, he added,that's what we've had for Thanksgiving dinner ever since. Sounds pretty good to me.