It’s that time of year again: Thanksgiving! Time to gather with the family, eat delicious food, take inventory of all the things that we’re thankful for and create new memories.
This Thanksgiving Cubana chef Bren Herrera shares her delicious holiday recipes and favorite Thanksgiving memory with New Latina! Bren, a private chef, world traveler and award-winning food blogger has been featured in countless online and print publications, all of which praise this talented young entrepreneur for her flavorful food and innovative style. So, join us in the cocina this Thanksgiving as we whip up some yummy Thanksgiving dishes that are sure to earn your abuelita’s approval!
Thanksgiving At Home With Bren Herrera
Thanksgiving in a Cuban home is something you’d pay to watch and be a part of. But being Cuban means the front door is always open and unlocked! No one knocks. You can smell either coffee or some frijol or carne my mom’s cooking, from the minute you pull up to the drive way. And for sure, you will always hear some loud conversation in Spanglish that gives you the impression whomever is talking, is actually fighting!
It’s been like this in my parents house for the past 24 years. And even though all 5 children are grown up and two of us live outside the state of Va, things have not changed.
This makes for a good ol’ time en una casa cubana.
I flew home 4 days before Thanksgiving one particular year. I think it was 2008. I arrived early so that I could spend real time designing a menu for mami and me. That DID NOT happen. She was like, “yeah honey, we’ll just go grocery shopping on Wednesday. We’ll cook on Thursday.” And that we did. I was shocked at how calm she was, considering she’s usually running around como una loca the entire week before. But I will charge her peace of mind to knowing I was going to make 1/2 of dinner.
And lots of café.
Things were cool and chill until I arrived home two nights before Thanksgiving to find my father with the prettiest meat I’ve ever seen, all laid out on the kitchen table. The kicker: he was cutting it with a saw! Yes, a saw! You know the kind of saw you cut wood with? ¡Ay Dios mio! Evidently, the baby deer was a gift from another crazy Cuban and it was frozen. Took him over an hour to clean and cut it. But, at the end of the night, we had 8 lovely courses and super happy house full of full Cubans! On to a loud partido of dominoes and more café!
Mojo Roasted Turkey w/Jacques Pépin’s Mushroom Armagnac Sauce
- 1/2 pound leftover pulled turkey, cooked
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tsps. herbes de Provence
- 2 tbs. unsalted butter
- 3/4 lb. white mushrooms, sliced (shiitake works, too)
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1.5 tbsp. Armagnac
- 1 3/4 tsps. corn starch dissolved in water
- 1 tbsp. fresh tarragon, chopped
- 1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large ovensafe pan, spread turkey with existing sauce from your own turkey leftovers. Cover with aluminum foil and heat for 20 minutes or until hot enough to serve. While turkey is heating, make mushroom sauce. In large deep skillet, melt butter. Add white mushrooms and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and cook with moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are lightly browned. Add white wine and cook until just about evaporated. Add stock and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add cream and Armagnac and simmer until sauce has reduced to 2.5 cups or about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in corn starch mixture until all is blended well. Cook sauce over low heat, whisking until thickened. Remove from heat, stir in tarragon and season with additional salt and pepper.
Remove turkey from over and let sit for a few minutes. Transfer turkey meat onto serving platter and pour mushroom sauce over. Garnish with additional chopped tarragon or sprigs.
Carrot Ginger Soup w/Tarragon & Grand Marnier
- 1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 2.5 cups unsalted chicken broth
- 4 tsp. tarragon, finely chopped
- 2 tsp. fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup. orange juice
- 3-4 splashes of Grand Marnier
- honey to drizzle
- salt/pepper to taste
In large pot melt butter and add carrots and onion. I added salt here. Cover and cook on medium until onions are transparent and carrots begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to boil, leaving uncovered. Reduce heat, add ginger, pepper and stir in orange juice. Cover and cook on medium for 10 minutes or until carrots are tender. Separating in batches if necessary, pour mixture in high speed blender and blend until completely smooth. I didn’t have to but you may. Transfer soup back to large pot. Add tarragon, Grand Marnier and stir. Cover and cook for another 5-7 minutes until flavors have set it. Drizzle and top with high grade honey to add a touch of sweetness and garnish with tarragon sprigs, if desired. Serve immediately.
Yields enough for 4.