Recently, the New York Times published an article titled “The United States of Thanksgiving” featuring 50 dishes that capture the essence of the States. Florida’s dish? Mojo turkey. Below you’ll find some personal favorites, as well links to their recipes.
“Florida’s cuisine ranges from the deep Southern cooking of the humid, citrus-scented central and northern parts of the state to the more Caribbean-inflected cuisine of the marshy lowlands of Miami and the Keys. Here, the turkey nods to what happened when Cuban culture drifted onto the Thanksgiving tables of South Florida, with a bird dressed in a marinade of sour oranges (a mixture of orange and lime juice works as well) mixed with a lot of garlic and oregano. Serve the bird with black beans and white rice on the side — and a Key lime pie for dessert.”
“Like many restaurant workers toiling in Las Vegas, Eric Klein, the executive chef at Spago, spends Thanksgiving Day on the line, dishing out turkey and trimmings to vacationing high rollers. Time with family and friends comes after the holiday. While the rest of the city combs shopping arcades for Black Friday deals, he’s making magic with the leftovers.
One of his favorites is this play on a French dip sandwich. Shredded turkey stands in for the usual beef, while gravy, thinned out to make it brothlike, replaces the jus for dipping. To this he adds the requisite leftover stuffing, and he folds the cranberry sauce into a fragrant and creamy aioli. He likes to crumble mild blue cheese over the top of his sandwich for extra pizazz, but feel free to leave it out if you’re feeling more traditional.” MELISSA CLARK
“Anyone who has spent time in New Mexico knows that fiery red chile sauce, made with local dried chiles, finds its way into most meals there, enhancing plates of huevos rancheros or enchiladas. But just as often, it is the base for a meat stew, usually beef, pork or lamb. The dish is known as carne adovada, and it is insanely good.
Yes, there probably is a roasted turkey in most homes for Thanksgiving, and maybe a steaming pot of tamales. But the thought occurred to me that turkey thighs (the tastiest part of the bird) simmered in red chile would be a welcome substitute. It turns out I was right. Slowly braised for 2 hours, this spicy turkey is succulent and tender.” DAVID TANIS
“Early American colonists may not have eaten Cheddar at the first Thanksgiving, but they certainly began to make it in the traditional English manner soon thereafter. At some point the colonies were actually exporting domestic cheese to the mother country, where it was known as Yankee Cheddar.
To some, Cheddar is synonymous with Vermont, even if it is produced in several other states, too. For most, mashed potatoes are an absolute essential for a proper Thanksgiving table. Combining them seems natural, whether customary or not. Using two-year-old aged Vermont Cheddar, which is deeply flavored but not too sharp, gives these creamy mashed potatoes a subtle Cheddar presence, neither overwhelmingly cheesy nor gooey.” DAVID TANIS
“In Wisconsin, wild rice is truly wild, not cultivated as in other states, the tassels rising and swaying over rivers, lakes and floodplains come late August and September. Called manoomin by the local Chippewa, it is a protected crop that can be harvested only by state residents holding a valid license. And only by hand, as the Chippewa have always done, using wooden flails gently (the grains should fall from the stalk without great effort) from canoes propelled by paddles or push poles.
Shellie Holmes of Rhinelander, Wis., who shares her recipe here, likes to cook wild rice just until it pops open. This is a break with her family’s tradition, which favored a chewier texture and did not allow popping.
“Do not mix with other rice,” she urged, lest you lose the flavor of the wild.” LIGAYA MISHAN
“Thanksgiving dinner in Hawaii may start with pineapple-Vienna-sausage skewers and litchis stuffed with cream cheese. Later there is turkey and ham, but also Spam fried rice and Filipino lumpia, maybe poke (sashimi salad), laulau (ti-leaf-wrapped meat or fish) and a Molokai sweet potato pie topped with haupia (coconut pudding). It is the crazy-quilt, all-embracing nature of the feast that makes it local-kine — that is, island-style.
Lara Mui Cowell of Honolulu offers this recipe from her popo (maternal grandmother), Jannie Luke Thom, a second-generation Chinese-American who was born in Hawaii before it became a state. The dish is a Chinese take on Western-style sage stuffing, swapping out bread crumbs for mochi rice and adding lap cheong (Chinese sausage) and char siu (Chinese barbecue pork). But in true Hawaiian style, you may substitute Portuguese sausage — or even Spam.”
“Fifty or a hundred years ago, community cookbooks were as essential to a well-stocked American kitchen as rotary egg beaters. These spiral-bound compilations created as charity fund-raisers, often using local recipes, have been largely sidelined by the flood of professional cookbooks that are published every year.
Those are not likely to include recipes for suet pudding and lye soap, like the ones in “Treasured Recipes Old and New 1975” by the Schuyler-Brown Homemakers Extension in Iowa Falls. The book includes these date and walnut Thanksgiving cookies, contributed by Wilma Miller, who credits the recipe to her great-aunt. Ms. Miller wrote that the original recipe called for two pounds of walnuts, but that she prefers it with pecans “and not that many.” That makes sense. Mixing in even a pound of nuts requires the arms of a sturdy farm wife. The recipe yields enough for an entire church supper.” FLORENCE FABRICANT
“Legend has it that the St. Louis gooey butter cake originated by accident in the 1930s, when a baker mixed up the proportion of butter in one of his coffee cakes. Rather than throw it out, he sold it by the square, and the sugary, sticky confection was a hit. Naturally, a slice of gooey cake ends up next to — or in place of — the pumpkin pie at many a Missourian’s Thanksgiving table. Some bakers like to add pumpkin and spices to the gooey filling. Not so in this yeast-risen version from Molly Killeen, the St. Louis native behind Made by Molly, a dessert company in Brooklyn. Her recipe is soft-centered, crisp-edged and not too sweet. The leftovers are excellent for breakfast the next morning.” MELISSA CLARK