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Top 9 Thanksgiving Recipes from the Latin Caribbean

Add these delicious recipes to your menu.


Grandma's secret turkey recipe, mom's special cranberry dish, and Thanksgiving Day celebrations are a mixed bag of cherished, time-honored recipes and traditions. Although Thanksgiving is not exactly a Caribbean holiday, many people from the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and The U.S. Virgin Islands, in addition to Americans with Caribbean roots, do celebrate with their own special menus for the occasion. I created the following menu to highlight the foods commonly served at Thanksgiving, but with an island flare. I hope you enjoy the recipes enough to start a new tradition of your own.

1. Pavochòn - Roasted Turkey

Pavochòn - Roasted Turkey
(Photo © Brent Reeves. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.)
Roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving as if it were lechòn (suckling pig) has been a tradition in Puerto Rico since the island became an American commonwealth and adopted the holiday. Normally, the meat of choice for the holidays is roasted suckling pork. So it only makes sense to combine the tradition of the islands with an American tradition and serve turkey that tastes like roasted pork for Thanksgiving. This flavor intensive recipe will go over well with the most discriminating of tastes.

2. Pernil - Pork Roast

Picture of uncooked pork shoulder picnic.
© 2006 Hector Rodriguez

If you prefer to cook the traditional meat of choice for the holidays, here is a smaller version of a roasted pig. The recipe calls for roasting a shoulder picnic cut or butt roast. Leftovers make awesome cuban sandwiches.

3. Mofongo Stuffing - Green Plantain Turkey Stuffing

Plantain Turkey Stuffing, also called Mofongo Stuffing, is an excellent alternative to the traditional breaded and meat stuffing associated with a thanksgiving turkey. This mouthwatering stuffing is made from plantains, bacon, garlic, and ajíces dulces (sweet chili peppers).

4. Cuban Fufu - Sweet Plantain Stuffing

Cuban fufu Cuba Fu Fu
Copyright 2006 Hector Rodriguez
Cuban Fufu is similar to Mofongo Stuffing, but the recipe calls for ripe plantains. If you don't like green plantains, you can make this sweet plantain stuffing mashed with bacon and onion. This recipe makes a sweet yet savory turkey dressing or side dish.

5. Arroz con Gandules - Rice with Pigeon Peas

Rice and Pigeon Peas - Arroz con Gandules
Photo © jrroman. Photo from iStockphoto.com.
Instead of mashed potatoes, try Puerto Rico's national dish. This recipe is a rice and pea dish seasoned with sofrito and diced ham.

6. Surullitos - Cornmeal Cheese Sticks

Surullitos - Cheese Corn Sticks
Photo © Hector Rodriguez. Licensed to About.com.
Replace your biscuits, rolls or cornbread with this recipe. Surullitos are easy to make cornmeal cheese sticks that can be served warm as a side dish or as a snack.

7. Besitos de Coco - Coconut Kisses

Coconut Kisses - Besitos de Coco
Photo © Hector Rodriguez 2008
Besitos de coco are a favorite treat in the Spanish speaking islands. They are a great substitute for cookies. Here is a simple basic recipe, which can be dressed up by adding nuts or dipping kisses in chocolate.

8. Coconut Flan

Picture of coconut flan topped with coconut flakes.
Copyright 2006 Hector Rodriguez
If your traditional fare includes custard, why not try something a little different this year. Here's a creamy custard dessert with a tropical twist. Not only will the taste "wow them" but the presentation is beautiful as well.

9. Bacardi Rum Cake

Rum Cake © iStockphoto.com | Angela Sorrentino
© iStockphoto.com | Angela Sorrentino
The About Guide to Desserts and Baking presents a tried and true recipe for the traditional rum cake.
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  6. Thanksgiving is not a Caribbean holiday, but Caribbean Americans do celebrate with their own special recipes.

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