Thanksgiving Recipes 2014: Celebrity Chef Aarón Sánchez Shares Latin-Inspired Thanksgiving Food Tips, Memories
For Latino families, everyday could be Thanksgiving for la familia (family) and la comida (food) make up the core of our existence and giving thanks and savoring delicious food is second nature.
This Thanksgiving, celebrity Chef Aarón Sánchez is reflecting on his love for Latin-inspired Thanksgivings and all of the wonderful memories and tasty dishes that come along with this cherished holiday. He also shared his Latin-inspired "Chorizo and Cornbread Stuffing" with Latin Post as part of our exclusive interview.
Sánchez is among the country's leading contemporary Latin chefs and his passion, commitment and skills were inspired by the leading Latina ladies of his life who reigned the kitchen -- his mother, "celebrated Mexican cooking authority" Zarela Martinez and his grandmother Aida Gabilondo, who was the first in his family's three generations of cookbook authors, as well as his aunts.
"Some of my best memories growing up are when we're all sitting down for a meal, sharing stories and having fun (telling jokes, singing)," Sánchez told Latin Post. "Cooking gives me the opportunity to do just that, bring people together and sharing memories through food."
Being surrounded by Latina culinary gurus, the El Paso, Texas native recalled a special Latin-inspired Thanksgiving memory.
"One of my tías (aunts) used to cook turkey in a bag, she would marinate the turkey and steam it in a plastic bag," he explained. "It was one of the most unattractive things you'd ever see, but so tasty!"
As a chef, Sánchez literally and figuratively wears many hats - he's also a restaurateur, TV personality, consultant and spokesperson, as well as an author and entrepreneur.
Sánchez is the chef/partner of Paloma in Stamford, Connecticut and Johnny Sánchez in New Orleans, Louisiana and Baltimore, Maryland along with friend and partner John Besh. He is the co-star of Food Network's hit series, "Chopped" and "Cooking Channel's "Taco Trip." Also, Sanchez is the star of FOX Life's No. #1 rated series "3 Minutos con Aarón" and the travel-food series "MOTOCHEFS."
He shared his Latin-inspired Thanksgiving recipe, "Chorizo and Cornbread Stuffing" with Latin Post (see below for full recipe.)
What makes this particular Latin-inspired dish so special to this multifaceted chef during the Thanksgiving holiday?
"This recipe gives you that sweet and salty balance, the saltiness of the chorizo and its seasoning really helps balance the sweetness of the cornbread," he explained. "This is one of my family favorites for the holidays!"
Sánchez has an impressive resume -- he's starred on multiple Food Network shows including: "Heat Seekers," "Chefs vs. City," "Best Thing I Ever Ate" and "Next Iron Chef." In 2011, he appeared on the debut season of "The Best Thing I Ever Made," where Food Network stars share their culinary secrets.
His first book, "La Comida del Barrio," was published in May 2003. His second book, "Simple Food, Big Flavor: Unforgettable Mexican-Inspired Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours," was released in October 2011. Sánchez is also a Chef Ambassador for "Why Hunger," a leader in building the movement to end hunger and poverty.
As a guest chef of the White House, a recipient of the "National Award" (at the Flavors of Passion Awards honoring the nation's best Latin chefs) and a nominee for "Rising Star Chef" by the James Beard Foundation, Sánchez has highlighted the passion and success of Latino chefs.
With that said, does he think the culinary landscape has truly changed for Latino chefs and/or chefs overall on TV and within the industry?
"Definitely! There is growing opportunity for Latin chefs. They are starting to get more recognition and people are identifying with their food," Sánchez explained. "One of the best things about being one these amazing programs like 'Chopped' and my new Cooking Channel show, 'Taco Trip,' is that it gives me a platform to reach so many people that I usually wouldn't get to."
Recently, Sánchez recently opened his newest restaurant, Paloma in Stamford, Connecticut.
"The feedback has been amazing," he gushed. "The community has been extremely supportive of us and is excited for us to be there. We've gotten our first two reviews and they've both been amazing, so I really couldn't be happier. Our menu at Paloma is my food - contemporary Mexican food that is a little elevated and has my spin on it. Some of our guests' favorites have been our Lobster Tempura Tostadas, Albóndigas, Tomahawk Steak, served with oxtail enchiladas and for dessert, our churros!"
His other restaurant, Johnny Sanchez in the beloved cities of New Orleans and Baltimore offer up some top-tier cuisine as well.
"Johnny Sánchez is traditional Mexican food, with a focus on utilizing sustainable, local produce. It's been a great time collaborating with my good friend, Chef John Besh on the concept," he said. "We are doing some fun specials at Johnny Sánchez New Orleans including slow-cooked turkey enchiladas and chiles en nogada."
With three restaurants under his belt and numerous projects, Sánchez is one busy chef who's on fire in the culinary world. Yet, this chef continues to cook up some spicy new ideas -- and he's embarking on a "Taco Trip" of a lifetime to boot!
"I'm really excited about my new Cooking Channel show, 'Taco Trip,' which is premiering on December 16!" he said. "It was so much fun going to different cities and seeing what kinds of Mexican/Latin food these different places are doing."
He also wants to enhance his fans' cooking experience.
"I also recently launched my line of kitchen gadgets and tools in collaboration with IMUSA. My focus on the line was to give home cooks authentic tools to recreate some of my favorite dishes," he explained. "I love the molcajete and the tortilla presses, they're both staples in my house!"
Check out Sánchez's delicious Latin-inspired Thanksgiving recipe for "Chorizo and Cornbread Stuffing." If you already have a dish in mind, this recipe would be great to use for Christmas as well, which is right around the corner!
CHORIZO AND CORNBREAD STUFFING
Aarón Sánchez for Simple Food, Big Flavor
Makes 3 cups
1 pound fresh Aarón's Chorizo
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish (optional)
½ cup chicken stock (low-sodium store-bought is fine)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Grated cotija cheese, for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook the chorizo, breaking it up with a spoon and stirring occasionally as it cooks, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic to the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have browned, about 10 minutes. Add the crumbled cornbread and cilantro. Gradually stir in enough of the stock so the stuffing is not too dry but at the same time not too wet. Stir gently and well.
3. Butter a small casserole dish. Spread the stuffing in an even layer. Bake until it's heated through and lightly browned on top, about 20 minutes. Serve right away, garnished with the cilantro and cotija, if desired.
Aarón Sánchez for Simple Food, Big Flavor
Makes 2 pounds
1 pound ground beef chuck
1 pound ground pork
3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon salt
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground canela (Mexican cinnamon) or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground star anise
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoon crushed dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
¼ cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon sugar
½ cup ancho chile powder
1. Put the ground beef and pork in a large bowl. Add the garlic, salt, and vinegar and mix well (your hands are the best tools for this job). Sprinkle with the pepper, canela, star anise, cloves, and oregano and mix well. Add the wine and sugar and mix well.
2. Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Put the chile powder in a small bowl, pour in the boiling water, and stir well to make a paste. Let it cool to room temperature. Work the paste into the meat with your fingers until it's well incorporated. Cover and refrigerate overnight before you use it. Store in 2-ounce portions in zip lock bags in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Subscribe to Latin Post!
Sign up for our free newsletter for the Latest coverage!