Thanksgiving is a holiday that brings family members near and far under one roof to give gratitude and share delicious food. For my family, we celebrate this American holiday by going back to our Cuban roots to create dishes that remind our family of our past. We also incorporate some classic American Thanksgiving foods we all know and love, creating a Cuban-American Thanksgiving.

Cuban Thanksgiving Turkey

Bianca Romero

Typically, the main protein of a Cuban-inspired thanksgiving is ham or pork. Usually, my family will make both a turkey and a ham to serve to our large family. However, due to COVID-19, we had less family members at our Thanksgiving gathering this year. We chose to just make a turkey, but still incorporated Cuban elements by coating it with a sour orange and garlic marinade, combined with spices such as oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper. 

Relleno de Pavo (aka Stuffing)

Bianca Romero

Personally, my favorite dish at every holiday feast is the stuffing. I especially love this one that my abuela, or grandmother, makes. This version of turkey stuffing features chorizo, which is a type of pork sausage. It is originally from Spain and Portugal but many Hispanics, including Cubans, incorporate it in their dishes. The stuffing also includes peas, raisins, olives, carrots, and onions to create a mouth-watering combination of flavors that I crave all year.

Moros (Rice and Beans)

rice, milk
Jessica Barefoot

No Cuban meal is complete without a side of rice and beans. In Cuba, they are called Moros y Cristianos, which are usually referred to as moros, arroz moro, or congri. The beans can be red or black and the rice is typically white rice. My family will usually include onions and green bell peppers in the rice and sprinkle some fresh cilantro on top. The rice and beans goes perfectly alongside the stuffing and turkey.

Cream Cheese and Guava

Bianca Romero

Finally, for dessert, my mom and I make these guayaba, which is guava, and cream cheese bites. I love these because they are bite-sized, so they are the perfect dessert to have after you are stuffed from dinner. The taste resembles a cream cheese and guava pastelito, which is a Cuban pastry. We also typically sprinkle bread crumbs on top of them to add a crunch.

A Meal of Gratitude

Along with these Cuban dishes, my family makes sure to make some of the classics such as mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and sweet potato casserole. Including dishes of my heritage has taught me a lot about my past and makes my family grateful for being able to celebrate our ancestors while enjoying the life we have here in the United States.