Published on Chanhassen Villager, November 2013 -article by Amalia Moreno-Damgaard Thanksgiving is not a Latino holiday, but Latinos living in the United States embrace it because many are bi-cultural. In some Latino homes traditional Thanksgiving recipes are adapted to Latino tastes. There’s turkey baked for Christmas and mashed potatoes eaten with Latino meals in Latin America, so Latinizing Thanksgiving is not difficult for Latinos, especially for those living in the Midwest.
Latinos celebrate Thanksgiving also because it is a family-centered gathering. Latinos like traditions, especially those that revolve around spending quality time with friends and family. Giving thanks for all the blessings one has goes hand in hand with church traditions. Latinos are predominantly Catholic. So Thanksgiving is much more than just eating good food. It is a cultural ritual.
To celebrate this Thanksgiving, I put together a couple of recipes with a Latin flair that can break the routine of the usual dishes, yet they maintain the tradition of the holiday season.
Smashed potatoes with onion butter and parsley
By Chef Amalia Moreno-Damgaard
This recipe is inspired by a dish my mom used to make at home routinely to accompany beef or chicken dishes. It is easy, delicious, rustic and festive.
Serves 2-4 people
1-2 cups potatoes cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes cooked in salted water al dente
½ cup chopped onion
2-3 tbsp. butter
Freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
Cook the onion in the butter until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
Put the potatoes in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Hold the container with both hands and shake it vigorously for 1-2 minutes. This action will break down the potatoes a bit, but they will remain chunky.
Combine the onion and butter with the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Put the lid back on the container and shake it again for another minute. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.
Garnish with chopped parsley.
Spiced Roasted Cornish Hens
By Chef Amalia Moreno-Damgaard
This recipe combines traditional American spices with Latino spices to produce an explosion of flavors. Cornish hens are a good alternative to turkey and require less time and effort than cooking a turkey. They are also more economical for a small gathering and can produce 1-2 meals per person.
Serves 4 people
4 cornish hens, thawed, rinsed, patted dry
4 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 tsp. fresh garlic mashed to a paste
1 tsp. guajillo chile powder
1 tsp. achiote powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. ground sage
½ tsp. thyme
½ tsp. oregano, crumbled
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
Rub the hens over and under the breast skins with the vinegar and garlic. Let sit for 15 minutes.
Combine the spices in a mortar and pound them gently with the pestle until uniform and powdery. Rub the hens with the oil followed by the spice mixture. Cover with plastic and let the hens sit in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until ready to roast.
Preheat the oven to 375F
Roast the hens breast up until cooked and the skins are golden, about 1 hour. Rest, covered, for 15 minutes before serving.
Amalia Moreno-Damgaard is a native of Guatemala who now lives in Eden Prairie. She has taught cooking classes at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and recently published her first cookbook, “Amalia’s Guatemalan Kitchen.”