Mexican Thanksgiving

Stuffed Roast Suckling PigPhoto: Kang Kim. Food Styling by Alison Attenborough

Zarela Martínez and Aarón Sánchez
Chef-owner, Zarela, and Chef-owner, Centrico and Paladar

Zarela Martínez started sharing her Thanksgiving kitchen with her son, Aarón Sánchez, when he was 12 years old. “He took over the duty of carving the turkey but made a terrible mess—I had to salvage the bird,” says Martínez. The mother-son team’s Thanksgiving menu is a happier collaboration, combining Martínez’s homey regional Mexican cooking, which she practices at her eponymous restaurant, Zarela, and Sánchez’s Nuevo Latino, which he turns out at Centrico and Paladar. Instead of roasting a turkey, Martínez serves up a whole suckling pig—the big-celebration dish of choice in much of Latin America. She rubs her little porker with a smoky guajillo-chile marinade and stuffs it with a mixture of diced apples, pineapple, tomatoes, green olives, and Mexican oregano. Sánchez adds another Latino ingredient—chorizo—to Brussels sprouts. “Brussels sprouts are great little sponges; they take on the richness of the chorizo really well,” he says. Instead of a squash purée, Sánchez prefers the texture of large chunks of roasted calabaza, a West Indian pumpkin. Finally, says Martínez, “I don’t like pies—the crust is too hard to make.” Her solution? A pumpkin cheesecake, flavored, of course, with canela, a Mexican cinnamon.

Stuffed Roast Suckling Pig
Brussels Sprouts With Chorizo
Roasted Calabaza
Savory Corn Bread
Pumpkin Cheesecake

Stuffed Roast Suckling Pig
8 ounces guajillo chiles (about 30)
1 2-inch piece canela (Mexican cinnamon)
12 black peppercorns
10 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
2 tablespoons dried avocado leaves (available from Kalustyan’s) or 1/2 cup fresh tarragon leaves
10 large sprigs fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
8 large garlic cloves
4 tablespoons cider vinegar

Wash and griddle-dry the chiles, being careful not to burn them. As they are done, place them in a large deep bowl, cover generously with boiling water, and soak for at least 20 minutes. Drain, and remove stems only when cool enough to handle.

Blend all marinade ingredients in batches until puréed, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. If necessary, add a few tablespoons of water to facilitate blending, but the mixture should remain thick and pasty.

1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 small onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium-ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 medium-size pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 1/2 firm, tart green apples, peeled, cored, and cut into -inch dice
2 medium-size carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 large red bliss or other waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup dark raisins
cup small pimiento-stuffed green olives
1 1/2 canned pickled jalapeño chiles, thinly sliced, plus 3 tablespoons of the pickling juice
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground canela
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional for seasoning the pig
6 bay leaves
6 sprigs thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

In a deep skillet, heat the oil at medium high. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly translucent. Add the tomatoes and stir for 5 minutes, until the juices have evaporated slightly. Stir in the remaining ingredients, reduce the heat to medium, and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring often. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

1 suckling pig, about 12 to 15 pounds (available at; orders must be placed at least a week ahead of time)
Salt and black pepper
2 cups orange juice (optional)

Season the pig inside and out with salt and pepper, then slather the chile marinade thickly over the pig, inside and out, and marinate in a large plastic bag, refrigerated, overnight or for at least 4 hours. Allow the pig to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Fill the pig with the cooled stuffing, and close the opening with skewers or stitch with string.

If not using the optional orange juice, arrange the pig in a large roasting pan on all fours, and roast for approximately 3 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 160 degrees. Reduce heat to 200, and let the pig rest at this temperature for 15 minutes or until ready to serve (but no longer than 40 minutes). If using the orange juice, lay the pig on one side and pour the juice over it. Roast as directed above, but baste occasionally with the juice and turn the pig onto its other side halfway through cooking. If the liquid seems to be evaporating too rapidly, add 1/4 cup of water at a time to the pan juices.

Carve the pig. Arrange the stuffing on a serving platter with the carved meat on top. If enough orange juice is left in the roasting pan to serve as gravy, strain it and skim off the fat; pass separately in a gravy bowl.

Brussels Sprouts With ChorizoPhoto: Kam Kim

Brussels Sprouts With Chorizo
2 pounds Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces Spanish hard chorizo, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 white onions, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add Brussels sprouts, and cook for 10 minutes. Strain, and drop into a bowl filled with ice and water. After 5 minutes, strain again and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add chorizo and sauté until it becomes crispy and renders some fat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Pour in the chicken stock, reduce the liquid to about 1/2 cup, add the butter, and simmer for 3 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve in a large bowl.

Roasted Calabaza
1 teaspoon cumin seed
3 cloves
2 teaspoons coriander seed
1 small piece canela
3 1/2 pounds calabaza (West Indian pumpkin) or butternut squash, seeded and peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon ground chile de árbol
Lime wedges for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with the racks in the upper and lower thirds.

In a large cast-iron skillet, toast the cumin, clove, coriander, and canela until they begin to smell fragrant; set aside to cool. Place the spices in a coffee or spice grinder and purée until finely ground. Set aside.

Cut the calabaza in half lengthwise and then into 3/4-inch-wide by 3-inch-long pieces.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, spice mixture, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the chile de árbol until well blended. Add the calabaza and toss until the oil-spice mixture coats the calabaza, then transfer to two large shallow heavy baking pans; the calabaza should be spread out in a single layer.

Roast the calabaza in the oven. After 20 minutes, switch the position of pans, turn the calabaza, and continue cooking for 35 to 45 minutes or until tender and starting to caramelize.

Savory Corn Bread
3 cups corn kernels, fresh, frozen, or canned
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups rice flour (use Goya’s, not rice flour from Chinatown)
1 tablespoon baking powder
8 ounces white Cheddar cheese, shredded
4 ounces poblano chiles, roasted, seeded, and diced

Grind the corn by pulsing batches in the food processor until coarsely crushed but not puréed. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat in the eggs one by one until incorporated.

Sift the dry ingredients, and add to the creamed mixture in 2 parts, beating on low speed until combined. Fold the ground corn into the batter, followed by the cheese and chiles.

Butter a 13-by-9-inch Pyrex baking dish, and lightly dust with cornstarch. Pour in the mixture and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until crust is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Pumpkin CheesecakePhoto: Kang Kim

Pumpkin Cheesecake
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, ground
1 cup graham-cracker crumbs
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese
1 cup sugar
15 ounces canned pumpkin purée
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3 whole eggs plus 1 yolk
1 cup condensed milk

1 pound sour cream
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine pumpkin seeds, graham-cracker crumbs, spices, and sugar thoroughly in food processor and pulse; add the butter and pulse until combined. Line a 10-inch springform pan with the mixture, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until set. Set aside to cool.

Reduce oven to 300 degrees. Beat cream cheese with sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir in pumpkin purée and spices. Add the eggs and yolk one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add condensed milk, and beat until thoroughly combined. Transfer to the prepared springform pan, and bake for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Allow to cool for 30 minutes. Combine sour cream and sugar thoroughly for the topping, and spread evenly over the top of the cheesecake. Bake for 15 minutes, allow to cool, then refrigerate.

Globalist’s Thanksgiving

Mexican Suckling Pig
Chinese Peking Turkey
French Guinea Hens
Italian Turkey Legs
African Harissa Turkey

All recipes serve 8.

Mexican Thanksgiving