America is a beautiful multi-cultural place. And to honor the melting pot that is this country, we are here to feature some melt-y deliciousness while highlighting the beauty of our differences. Thanksgiving is a time for family, food, and focusing on the good in life. See how these 15 American families celebrate the holiday with their own family twist.
(Get all 15 full recipes here).
- Meet Diane Yang’s family who use egg roll filling to stuff the turkey!
The Yang’s rub the turkey with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, then stuff it with bean-thread vermicelli, shredded carrots, cabbage and cilantro. Finishing the bird off by dousing it with fish sauce, the “Turkey roll” sounds AMAZING (and like nothing I would have ever concepted) and as unique as all of us celebrating this Harvest Fest.
2. Dig into to Margarita Velasco’s pumpkin flan.
Reminiscent of her country of birth, Cuba, the Velasco family follows a very traditional Thanksgiving feast. The array of traditional desserts, however are joined by a pumpkin flan made with calabaza, a kind of pumpkin-shaped squash popular in Cuban recipes. YUM!
3. Take a bite of Parwin Tayyar’s Kurdish casserole, Eprax.
Paying homage to the Middle East, this American family celebrates the holiday with eprax, a traditional Kurdish casserole, layered with dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) and/or other stuffed vegetables combined with rows of lamb chops running throughout the center. Otherwise known as a dish from heaven (in my eyes at least). The family feasts from a tablecloth placed on the floor – which is perfect for households that always seem to be low on seating or have trouble with seating arrangements. Maybe my family should consider this…
4. No need to call for take-out, Dr. Carolyn Ling’s family makes the perfect Cantonese chicken.
Sometimes, you really don’t feel like cooking, and Ling’s holiday family meal used to align with that thought process. Originally starting a tradition of getting their Thanksgiving meals delivered, the Ling’s eventually decided to emulate their tradition with a home-cooked meal. The vaguely Cantonese turkey, is roasted beneath a rich glaze of fermented soybean paste, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and alliums galore. The bird is then served with roasted potatoes basted in the sauce and drippings of the bird. “With the umami of soy and turkey fat” the feathered friend stays juicy and rich. Patiently awaiting my invite!
5. Carmela and Lisa Conte’s Italian spinach stuffing will have you singing ‘That’s Amore.’
Channeling Mediterranean flavors, the Conte’s make a fluffy spinach-mushroom stuffing for their turkey. Paired with olive oil and garlic roasted potatoes, then finished with fragrant platters of sliced fresh fennel and oranges, drizzled with olive oil and dusted with salt and pepper, I don’t think think anyone can wait to dig in!
6. Feast upon Martha Beltrán’s pan de jamón.
Cooked slowly under a blitz of pineapple and onion until it nearly falls apart the meat is definitely the star of this mixed family’s meal. And while meat is the focus, this family definitely makes sure to include it’s best supporting actor, Venezuelan holiday bread. The time consuming carb consists of this process: yeasted and laminated over 12 hours, then rolled up with strips of ham and olives so that each slice reveals a swirl of butter-slicked fillings. #TeamNoLeftovers.
7. Sit down with Erika Council’s family and try their braised pork neck bones with noodles.
“Those Who Do Not Learn History Are Doomed To Repeat It,” is the theme in Council’s household. In remembrance of the past when neck bones were a common staple in the kitchen of enslaved African-Americans, this family pays their homage with their their braised pork neck bones with noodles dish. Built from pork neck bones and elbow macaroni, the bones and onions are simmered in well-seasoned water (red pepper flakes, ground black pepper and salt) until the mixture becomes fragrant and the gelatin from the bones has given body to the broth. Then you toss the macaroni in to absorb all flavor as it cooks. Sometimes simple is best, and honoring your family’s history is an absolutely beautiful way to celebrate a holiday built on thanks.
8. You may need to peel your pants off after trying Nicole Ponseca’s Filipino bibingka.
This cake baked in a banana leaf is the perfect pairing of both sweet and savory. Made from rice and coconut milk, smattered with grated cheese, it gets its rich flavor from preserved salted eggs. “When it comes out, everyone perks up,” she said, “and all the grandmas go, ‘Ooh, there’s bibingka!’” Sounds about right!
9. Don’t be sour, Debbie Himmler has brought the Rotkraut!
Along with the typical American standards, this German family was sure to include their past generations staples Debbie’s oma’s (grandmother’s) rotkraut, a red cabbage pickled with red wine and apples. With home brewed cider and German apple cake, apfelkuchen, this family really knows how to eat!
10. Grab your napkin, Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim are treating you to some Bariis iskukaris.
This platter of Somali style rice is to die for! The basmati grains are cooked in a rich, meaty stock and strewn with fried onions, raisins and peppers, or sometimes, green beans. Stained orange with saffron and perfumed with their homemade xawaash, the dish could be a meal all on it’s own! Better get my stretchy pants ready.
11. No crazed barbers here, but maybe some crazed eaters: Maura Passanisi makes ‘Sweeny potatoes.’
Bubbling with sour cream, cheddar and cream cheese, this Irish inspired grand Thanksgiving casserole is a combination of sour, silky, salty, sweet flavor. Noms.
12. Francine Turone’s jerk-spiced turkey is packed full of flavor.
Initially rejecting the traditional turkey, labeling it “bland and boring,” the Jamaican descendant devised a recipe to crust and baste the bird with cinnamon, cloves, allspice and juniper berries. Sticking to her roots, her table spread is anything but typical with sides of roast goat leg, rice and peas with salted pig tails and coconut oil, and, in honor of her native of Milan husband, tortellini in brodo. That sounds like a celebratory and worldly table I would be thankful to have a seat at!
13. Get a taste of India with Raghavan Iyer’s Dudhi kofta curry.
“Coming from a land of spice, I thought, ‘Man, how boring,’” the Indian cookbook author said of his first Thanksgiving meal. But after a few family dinners at his in-laws, and incorporating his partner and his adopted son to the mix, the tri-cultural family soon made a menu of their own. Featuring crisp Indian squash dumplings (made with chickpea flour, onions and chiles simmered in a bright, cream and tomato based gingery sauce, Mr. Iyer brings a taste of his hometown to the table. So can I just grab a chair or…?
14. No lipstick needed for Maren Waxenberg’s Blotkake.
The Waxenberg’s follow familiar Scandinavian/Norweigen-American patterns: herring and aquavit before the meal, cloudberry preserves instead of cranberry sauce with the turkey, and blotkake (spongecake covered with whipped cream and berries) alongside the traditional pies. But let’s be honest, the Norwegian cream cake, layered with cloudberry preserves and whipped cream definitely takes home the prize. I’d like an extra large slice please!
15. Have a little taste of Mexico with a bite of Veronica Garcia’s Arroz con leche.
Taking from tradition (it’s her maternal grandmother’s recipe) this Mexican rice pudding is light, creamy and sweet – although she does use a bit less sugar than her ancestry. Using a split vanilla bean in place of the extract she soaks and rinses the rice twice before combining it with milk, sugar and evaporated milk. This is a dish full of texture I can gorge on!