Happy Thanksgiving

Ana Quincoces Adds a Latin Twist to Thanksgiving Recipes

Below, Ana Quincoces, the famed (and busy!) cookbook author, chef and TV star shares her family’s unique Thanksgiving recipes, full of Cuban culture and flavor.

Thanksgiving is an American holiday, through and through. My parents may have never celebrated it in Cuba, but since living stateside, my family has taken the holiday and made it our own—especially when it comes to the food!

While the turkey may be the star of a traditional Thanksgiving, we Cubans love to add a leg of pork to our table. My family even makes the stuffing with pork. I love to flavor it with nutmeg, garlic and sherry and sprinkle it with raisins and slivered almonds.

Then there are the sides. There may be some mashed potatoes, but we prefer plantains and lots of them! Sweet plantain casserole is our answer to sweet potato casserole. And we prefer black beans and rice to green bean casserole. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it…

Try some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, below. I hope you enjoy them as much as my family and friends do.

Buen Provecho and Happy Thanksgiving!

Ana

Ham Stuffing
Serves 8 to 10

What You’ll Need:
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, plus more as needed
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground sweet or honey-baked ham
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup vino seco (dry white cooking wine)
1 loaf white sandwich bread, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup raisins

What You’ll Do:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a large rectangular casserole dish.

2. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onion softens. Add the ham, cream cheese and vino seco, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Set aside.

3. Place the bread pieces in a large bowl. Combine the nutmeg, salt, pepper and cream in a small bowl, and pour the mixture over the bread. Toss to combine. Add the almonds and raisins and toss again. Add the ham mixture and incorporate. Pour the bread mixture into the prepared casserole dish, cover it with foil and bake for 1 hour, removing the foil after 30 minutes. Let the stuffing cool to room temperature.


Black Beans & Rice

Serves 6 to 8

What You’ll Need:
1/2 pound dried black beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound cooked bacon 
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound long-grain white rice
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Note: Always look for beans that are uniform in size and color. When selecting black beans, the deeper the color of the bean, the richer the final product will taste. Dry beans can also be cooked more quickly with a pressure cooker—just follow the manufacturer’s directions.

What You’ll Do:

1. Place a medium or large sieve over a large bowl, and drain the beans into the sieve, catching the soaking water in the bowl underneath.

2. Use a measuring cup to measure the soaking water as you transfer it to a large pot. Add additional water, if necessary, to equal 5 cups.

3. Add the beans, salt, and bay leaf, and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and let the beans simmer for about 2 hours, or until they are tender.

4. Let the beans cool to room temperature, then drain them, reserving 3 cups of the cooking liquid. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Set aside.

5. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in the same pot over medium-high heat. Season the pork cubes with salt, add them to the pot and cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until the pork browns and renders most of its fat.

6. Discard half the fat, and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the bell pepper, onions, and garlic. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and caramelized. Add the rice, the 3 cups reserved liquid, the oregano, cumin and pepper and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, combine the beans with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and season with salt to taste. Add to the rice mixture, and continue boiling uncovered, for 10 minutes, until the rice absorbs most of the water. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and let the beans and rice simmer for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. Fluff the rice with a fork, taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.


Sweet Plantain Casserole
Serves 4 to 6

What You’ll Need:
3 very ripe (black) plantains
4 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Note: Make sure you use extremely ripe plantains for this recipe—the skins should be black and the flesh should feel mushy when pressed.

What You’ll Do:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

2. Peel the plantains, and cut them diagonally into 2-inch-thick slices. Arrange the plantain slices in a single layer along the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

3. Heat the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble. Reduce the heat to low, then add the rum, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir well, and pour evenly over the plantains.

4. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and bake for 15 minutes.

5. Remove the dish from the oven, remove the foil and flip the plantain slices over. Cover the dish with foil, and bake for another 15 minutes.

6. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes to brown the top. Serve immediately.


Buñuelos with Cinnamon Nutmeg Honey
Makes 18 to 20

What You’ll Need for the Buñuelos:
3 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold salted butter, cut into small cubes
2 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
Vegetable oil for frying

What You’ll Need for the Cinnamon Nutmeg Honey:
3/4 cup honey
1 whole nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
The rind from half a lime

Combine and set aside:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

What You’ll Do:

1. The day before making the buñuelos, make the honey, and store in an airtight container at room temperature.

2. In a small saucepan, combine the honey, cinnamon and nutmeg and heat over low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside until cooled. Store covered until ready to use. This may be prepared 48 hours in advance.

3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices. Using a pastry cutter (like the ones used for pies), cut in the butter until a cornmeal like consistency has been achieved.

4. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk, and stir into the flour mixture until a dough forms, adding more milk if the dough is too dry. Turn the dough onto a clean, lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth, about 3 minutes.

5. Divide the dough into 18 pieces, and roll into uniform size balls. Place the balls on a large piece of parchment, and cover with a clean dishtowel for 30 minutes. Heat about 3 three inches of oil into a large frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat.

6. On a floured surface, roll out each ball each ball into a 5 to 6 inch round (they do not need to be perfectly round), about 1/4 inch thick, and place back on the parchment until ready to fry.

7. Once the oil is hot, carefully fry each round individually turning once after about 30 to 40 seconds or until golden brown, and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle fritters with cinnamon sugar mixture and drizzle with the infused honey. Serve immediately.

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