Alt Thanksgiving 2012: Mexico

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My family has a tradition of having a second Thanksgiving dinner every year we affectionately call Alt (or Anti) Thanksgiving. We spend a day cooking a new cuisine every year as a family then enjoy it. (It really takes about 2-3 days to research all the foods to cook, shop at specialty stores and make everything from scratch, but the bulk of the cooking happens the day of.)

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(Silly faces by Adie and Nate)

This year we tackled one of our favorite cuisine – Mexican. It’s kinda amazing we haven’t featured it before since we all love the food so much. We vowed to focus on traditional menu items we weren’t as familiar with to make it a little more interesting.

Our Menu

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ANTOJITOS Y BEBIDAS
Wild Mushroom Queso Fundido
Pickled Vegetables
Mango Pomegranate Guacamole
Silver Coin Margarita

ENSALADAS
Ensalada De Noche Buena

PLATOS FUERTES
Chicken in Blackberry Mole with Mexican Rice
Chile Rellenos Rancho Gordo with Classic Red Salsa
“Zarandeado” Style Whole Pink Snapper Tacos with Chayote Slaw & Chipotle Mayo

POSTRES
Chile-Spiked Chocolate Cakes

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After our menu was set, Mom and I divided our shopping list. I went to Costco and a couple local shops while she hit Whole Foods and a few other specialty stores. Finding all the chilies we needed for marinades and mole turned into our biggest hurdle, but Mom succeeded in finding them at a local specialty shop.

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The second dilemma was finding enough Red Snapper. I was able to get two fillets cut at our local butcher shop. The rest we had to get frozen. Can you tell the difference?

Making the food

Here’s a run down of a few items on our menu that I would definitely make again.

Silver Coin Margarita

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The evening started with a watermelon margarita.

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We soaked a chopped mini watermelon in the tequila the day before. Then blended it with Triple Sec and fresh lime juice. I loved their mellow flavor and took leftovers home to make popsicles out of them. Hopefully they set up okay.

Fonda San Miguel’s Blackberry Mole

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Mom and I spent an afternoon a few days before the event prepping and cooking up our blackberry mole. With 25 ingredients and almost as many steps, I am glad we didn’t wait until the day of to cook. I was surprised how nutty the sauce was. I have been loving using leftover sauce in my salads this week for lunch.

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Here’s the finished product on our dining table ready to eat. The chicken was seared and then cooked in the sauce for about 20 minutes before it was served. For the vegheads, I baked some mole marinaded tofu which was also really yummy.

Chiles Rellenos Rancho Gordo with Classic Red Salsa

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As a vegetarian, Chiles Rellenos is one of my common options when we go out for Mexican. It’s usually hit or miss. I am not a big fan of overly cheesy plates, so that’s usually my biggest turn-off with this dish.

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That said, I loved this homemade version. The grilled veggies and beans shined while the cheese played a minor role. We used poblanos from my parents garden and made homemade refried beans and red salsa. Trust me – it was amazing.

Zarandeodo Style Red Snapper Tacos with Chayote Slaw and Chipotle Mayo

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I don’t think this picture is even in focus. By the time I took it, I may have had too many margaritas to care.

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The fish marinade was great and so was the slaw. I was able to find chayotes at my local grocery store. I love the vegetable’s very mild, cucumber-like flavor. I’d make the whole dish again in a heart beat.

Chile-Spiked Chocolate Cakes

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Our dessert was insane. I was determined to eat mine even though I was stuffed from the main courses. The cake was very decadent and I think I would serve it in a small portion next time.

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I made the sweet tomatillo sauce for the cakes. I cooked down tomatillos, piloncillo (a unrefined brown sugar), vanilla bean and Mexican cinnamon bark. This stuff tasted and smelled so good I wish I could bottle it.

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So there you have it, Alt Thanksgiving 2012 was a total success. A few of us even enjoyed a little nap by the fire with a full belly. Viva México!!

If you are interested in the recipes we used you can download this handy PDF here.

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