A Latino-Inspired Thanksgiving

Give the American Holiday a twist with some of our favorite Latin-American side dishes.

1. Thanksgiving Food: Humitas Ecuatorianas

Humitas Ecuatorianas


1½      lb. frozen cut corn

1½      sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

½        tsp. baking powder

½        tsp. salt

½        tsp. sugar

4          eggs

¼         cup white cornmeal

1½      cups queso fresco

10       corn husks (if using dried husks, soak in hot water and dry before filling)                 


Thaw corn according to package directions. In blender, mix corn, butter, baking powder, salt, sugar and eggs. Pour mixture into large bowl. Add cornmeal and queso fresco. With spoon, mix until thickened.

To assemble humitas, fold long sides of each corn husk toward middle. Spoon 2 tbsp. corn mixture into each husk. Fold bottom of husk (part without any masa) toward top. If desired, secure by tying with corn husk strips or kitchen twine. Heat steamer to 350°F, or create steamer by placing steamer basket on bottom of tall pot and filling with small amount of water. Lean husks upright in steamer with open ends up, cover and bring water to boil. Steam until humitas are firm, about 30 minutes, replenishing boiling water if necessary.

Makes 10 servings.

Meet Our Chef!

Jose Garces was born to Ecuadorean parents and raised in Chicago. His Philadelphia-based empire includes seven restaurants and a mobile food truck, as well as restaurants in Chicago and Scottsdale, Ariz. In 2010, he earned the prestigious Iron Chef America title on Food Network.

2. Thanksgiving Food: Cranberry-Cilantro Brown Rice

Cranberry-Cilantro Brown Rice


1          cup long-grain brown rice

1          tbsp. kosher salt

2          tbsp. vegetable oil

½        shallot, finely chopped

3          cups frozen corn, thawed

¾         cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprig for serving

½        cup dried cranberries


In medium saucepan over high heat, bring 2 cups water, rice and salt to boil. Boil until some water is absorbed and bubbles appear on surface, about 4 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until water is absorbed and rice is slightly al dente, 25 to 30 minutes. Turn off heat, uncover and fluff rice with fork. Set aside to cool, 10 minutes.

In medium skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic; cook while stirring until garlic is fragrant, about 20 seconds. Stir in rice, cilantro and cranberries, and turn out rice into bowl. Finish with sprig of cilantro and serve. 

Makes 4 servings.

Meet Our Chef!

Lorena Garcia, restaurateur and author of Lorena Garcia’s New Latin Classics, was born and raised in Venezuela. She has appeared on numerous television programs, most recently as a panelist/investor on the NBC series America’s Next Great Restaurant. Her Big Chef, Little Chef initiative seeks to combat childhood obesity by improving the eating habits of kids and their parents.

3. Thanksgiving Food: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes  with Orange- Piloncillo Syrup  & Chile de Árbol


3          lb. sweet potatoes, scrubbed and rinsed

4          tbsp. unsalted butter

¾         cup packed grated piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar) or dark brown sugar

½        cup orange juice, preferably fresh

2          tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice

2-4      chiles de árbol, stems and seeds removed, toasted and chopped

¼         tsp. kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste               


In 8-quart soup pot, place sweet potatoes and cover with water. Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer, about 25 to 35 minutes. Sweet potatoes are ready when tip of knife goes through them easily. Drain and let cool.

To make syrup, in 3-quart saucepan over medium-low heat place butter, piloncillo, orange juice and lime juice. Once butter dissolves, let mixture simmer 4 to 5 minutes, until it gains a light syrupy consistency.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Peel and slice cooled sweet potatoes into ½-inch to ¾-inch rounds. In baking dish, layer potatoes in rows. Pour syrup on top and sprinkle with chile de árbol and salt. Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Halfway through baking time, spoon some syrup on top of sweet potatoes. Bake until syrup has thickened to your liking and sweet potatoes have glazed crust. Serve hot.

Makes 10 servings.

Meet Our Chef!

Pati Jinich is a passionate cooking teacher and the host of the public-television series Pati’s Mexican Table. A Mexico City native, she currently resides in Washington, DC, where she serves as the official chef of the Mexico Cultural Institute and is a contributor to Latina.com.

4. Thanksgiving Food: Related Links