23 Nov sonia mendez garcia.
waverly, new york. | wife. resident chef for Hispanic Kitchen. food blogger. owner @La Piña en La Cocina.
How did you choose your career and was it a conscious decision?
After leaving my long-time job of gift basket designer, I was asked to teach a few Mexican cooking classes because of my love for cooking my family’s recipes.
What has been your greatest obstacle in the kitchen and how do/did you navigate it?
My greatest obstacle has been locating some of the most common ingredients to prepare some of the traditional Mexican recipes. Thank goodness for online shopping and generous friends who live in bigger cities where the ingredients are more readily available.
What do you consider an epic fail in a Thanksgiving Day kitchen?
An epic fail to me, is spending all that time to roast your turkey and end up with a dry turkey. Sometimes it pays to take those few extra steps to achieve a tasty and moist turkey.
Turkey is the traditional center at most tables, what would you serve if the delicious bird were unavailable?
Growing up in a big Mexican family, if turkey was not available, we have been known to enjoy my Mom’s wonderful tamales with all the fixings!
If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
Be confident in yourself!
Would you share one of your favorite Thanksgiving recipes with j. jane readers and tell us why it is your favorite? Is it a family tradition or are the flavors just plain magical?
This recipe is a twist on the stuffing/dressing my Mom would prepare. I added a few of my favorite Mexican ingredients.
Yields up to 12 servings
- 1 pound ground chuck
- 16 ounces turkey or pork breakfast sausage (Jimmy Dean brand)
- 5 ounces Mexican chorizo
- 1 14-oz bag cornbread stuffing
- 7 ounces herb-flavored cubed stuffing
- 4 stalks of celery, diced
- 4 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 small green bell pepper, diced
- 1 small poblano pepper, diced
- 1 jalapeno, deseeded, minced
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium green apple, diced
- 1 cup blanched almonds (slivered)
- 4 to 5 cups chicken broth
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Olive oil
- In a large dutch oven pot, heat 3 tablespoons of oil to medium/high heat. Add the ground beef, chorizo, and turkey sausage. Cook for a good 20 minutes until nicely browned. Add in the onions, peppers, and garlic, stir well to combine. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add in the carrots, celery, almonds, and green apple. Stir well to combine and taste for salt. It’s much easier to season as you add layers to the recipe. Finally add in both kinds of bread stuffing and chicken broth. Fold everything together and continue cooking on low for 5 to 6 minutes. If it’s too dry, add in a little more chicken broth.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a large, glass casserole dish with Pam. Transfer the stuffing to prepared dish. Bake in oven for 35 to 40 minutes. This will give the top of stuffing a nice crust on top. This yields up to 12 servings. It freezes well and can be reheated in the oven, just add a little broth before reheating.
What is the best advice you ever received in the culinary world?
The best advice I received is to stick to my style of cooking. It’s what makes me stand out from the rest.
What is your greatest accomplishment to date?
My greatest accomplishment to date has been to have had some of my recipes published and to keep the legacy of my parents and their love of cooking alive.
What are you the most thankful for in life?
I am most thankful for the simple things in life. A wonderful husband, partner and my biggest fan!
What is your #1 tip for preventing a dry turkey?
If I had one tip to share, it would be to roast a smaller turkey and use that meat thermometer.
What is your best advice on how to be a graceful chef & host on Thanksgiving Day?
Prep side dishes and desserts the day before. This way all you have to do is reheat and will have more time to enjoy your guests.
j. jane side notes:
Sonia Mendez Garcia comes from a large family. She is one of eight children, 5 girls, 3 boys. It seems I have a lot in common with Sonia … other than my love of food. To learn more about Sonia check out the links below.
Be sure to visit Hispanic Kitchen to spice up your kitchen!
Sonia’s featured Thanksgiving Recipe: Corn Bread Stuffing with Mexican Flavor