Growing up, my mother always seemed to make Thanksgiving feel international. We lived outside of New York, and it seems that the United Nations had a ready list of guests from the country of your choice who were just waiting to experience an American Thanksgiving. And so, we headed faithfully, every year, to the Wilton train station to pick up flavor du jour, our Thanksgiving guests from Turkey, Russia, China. Maybe that is why I still feel the need to bring a bit of fusion flavor to this most American of meals, or maybe, I just can’t eat without chiles! Either way, here are some easy ways to add a little bit of Mexico to your meal, while still keeping with tradition:
Add chorizo (Mexican sausage, rich with spices like cinnamon and cardamon, available at Chico’s Produce on 24th off Harrison, buy the dry or chorizo seco, if its available) to your stuffing. You’ll want to remove the casing as you brown it well and mix with your favorite recipe.
- Add chipotles to your salad dressing- really, this works well with raspberry dressings, caesar dressing- at Tres Señoritas Gourmet we do a house special dressing that is sundried tomato-based with chipotle and lime that is our most popular. Refer to Chiptoles: what they are and how to use them for other interesting ways to combine this smoky, spicy flavor into your cooking.
Add serrano chiles to your cornbread. More flavorful than jalepeños, you’ll want to be judicious if your dinner crowd is not used to sabor caliente.
Add rajas de chiles poblanos to your green bean casserole. For cooking method, see Maiz part 3: Sin Maiz, No Hay Pais which shares a recipe for Poblano Strips with Corn, after reading the recipe, you may just want to substitute this dish for your green beans! Or, add chopped poblanos, fresh or canned corn niblets and crema Mexicana (available at Chico’s Produce or Casa Lucas, both on 24th Street) to your rice for a fiesta look and extra flavor.
- Instead of gravy, serve your turkey with mole. Granted, this rich, chile-based Mexican specialty, which can be prepared with hazelnuts (see photo above) or with a hint of chocolate (see Secrets and Pleasures of Mexican cooking: Abuelita chocolate) is time-consuming to produce and there are as many recipes as there are Mexican grandmothers, but with luck, you may find some delicious mole at a nearby Mexican restaurant, or try your hand at making your own from one of the many on-line recipes if you are an adventurous chef.
- Instead of brown sugar, add piloncillo (see photo, top) to your sweet potatoes, you’ll love the slightly smoky flavor!