Oscar Diaz’s Recipes for a Flavor-Filled Thanksgiving Feast

Char-grilled Oysters on the Half-Shell

5 strips of bacon
10 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup panko bread crumbs
12 fresh raw oysters
1 jalapeño, diced

Cook bacon in a pan until crispy. Remove and set aside. Add half of the minced garlic to the rendered bacon fat and cook until fragrant and golden. Add butter, then remove from heat and reserve. Toss the panko with the parmesan. Once the bacon is cool, finely chop. Shuck the oysters and place the half-shell with the oyster on a grate that can be placed over a hot grill. Crumble bacon, diced jalapeño and reserved garlic into each shell, then top with the panko-parmesan mixture. Place the grate on a hot grill and spoon some of the melted garlic butter over it; you’ll get a little flare from the grill. Grill for three to 10 minutes, depending on the size, until you see the oyster juices bubbling. Remove and serve.

Crab Guacamole

5 ripe avocados
3 serrano peppers
3 ripe Roma tomatoes
1/2 small white onion
1 bunch cilantro
Salt to taste
8 ounces jumbo lump crab
Radish, for garnish
Tortilla chips

Core and peel avocados and smash or cube them into a bowl. Reserve a few sprigs of cilantro, then finely dice the other vegetables and mix them into the bowl. Squeeze in lime juice to taste. Pick over the crab to make sure there are no stray pieces of shell, then gently fold into guacamole. Garnish with sliced radish and cilantro leaves. Serve with chips as a snack. *The crab can also be left out, if you prefer plain guacamole.

Poblano Cornbread

4 poblano peppers
1 cup butter
20 ounces buttermilk
5 whole eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup queso cotija
1/4 cup queso fresco
Sour cream

Roast poblano peppers over a fire until the skins are blistered (if a fire is not available, broil for about a minute on each side). Once blistered, remove from fire and cover loosely with foil; let sweat for about 10 minutes so that the skins loosen up. Peel the poblanos’ skin off, remove the seeds, and cut into strips. Add the poblano strips to the pan with the onions and season with a little salt. Combine buttermilk and butter in a pan and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, pour the mixture into a bowl and add the eggs. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking soda and cotija cheese. Pour the buttermilk-butter-egg mixture over the dry ingredients and mix. Place a large cast iron skillet into the oven and heat to 350 degrees. Pull the skillet out, lightly grease it, then add the batter; top with crumbled queso fresco. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Brush with melted butter and serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Pozole Verde de Pravo

Turkey Stock
21 ounces hominy
2 to 4 cups cooked shredded turkey, to taste
Salsa Verde (recipe below)
For garnish: Tostadas, shredded cabbage, chili flakes, limes, oregano, sliced radish, cilantro

In a large pot, bring the turkey stock to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Add in the Salsa Verde and simmer for 20 minutes, then add in shredded turkey and let simmer for an additional 20 to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt. Serve with tostadas, shredded cabbage, chili flakes, limes, oregano, radishes and cilantro on the side.

Salsa Verde

17 ounces of tomatillo (roughly 10 medium
3 jalapeños
3 poblano peppers
5 ounces pepitas
12 garlic cloves
12 scallions
2 bunches cilantro
1 bunch parsley (flat or curly)
1 ½ cups spinach, packed
1/2 cup of epazote leaves (find at a Latin
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of oregano
3 whole allspice berries

Put tomatillos and jalapeños in a pot with water and simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Pay attention: when the tomatillos go from light to dark green, cut the heat and remove them so that they don’t pop in the water. Char the poblano peppers in a pan; remove from heat and cover loosely with foil to sweat for about 10 minutes. Dry-toast the pumpkin seeds in a pan over medium heat until they become fragrant; remove and reserve. Lightly dry-toast all the spices together.  Add tomatillos, jalapeños, peppers, pumpkin seeds and spices to the blender and combine using a little stock to thin.  Heat a pot to medium-high, add some oil to coat bottom, then pour salsa verde in pot and lower heat to medium. Stir occasionally to avoid scorching the sauce. Cook until thickened, about 20 minutes. 

Turkey Tamales

About 2 pounds shredded cooked turkey
6 guajillo chiles
3 pasilla chiles (find at a Latin market)
2 ancho chiles
10 garlic cloves
1/2 red onion
5 Roma tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 cloves
2 allspice
Salt to taste
2 cups turkey stock, if necessary
12 corn husks, soaked in water

Char the Roma tomatoes in a hot pan, then add to a pot and simmer in water until softened all the way through. While the tomatoes are simmering, toast all the chiles lightly in a medium heat pan; press down on them lightly so that the oils are released and they are fragrant. Do not overtoast as this will create a bitter taste. Once toasted, add the chiles to the pot with the tomatoes and simmer until softened as well.  

Lightly toast the garlic; reserve. Dry-toast all the spices in a pan for about a minute and reserve with the garlic. Then put the reserved spices and garlic in a blender with the tomato-chile mixture and blend, adding turkey stock for moisture if necessary. The sauce should have a thick consistency that can coat the back of a spoon. Once blended, strain sauce through a fine strainer.  

Heat a pot to medium-high, add a little oil to just coat the pan and add in sauce (caution: it will bubble a bit). Turn heat down and let simmer for 10 minutes while stirring on and off. Add in shredded turkey and simmer until the sauce and turkey have almost become one ingredient. You want the mix to be tight so that the tamale will be easier to assemble. If it is too saucy, add more turkey or cook down to reduce the sauce. Once consistency is reached, adjust salt.

To assemble the tamales: Open up the pre-soaked husks. Spoon in the masa and spread it very thinly across the inside of the corn husk, 3/4 of the way up the husk to the narrow end. Spoon turkey mole into the center of the masa then fold one side over the filling, then the other; finish by folding up the narrow end. Repeat until masa or mole have finished. 

Place all the tamales in a steamer and steam for one hour. Once ready, tamales should easily come off the corn husk and the masa should be cooked all the way through, with no raw taste. Check before you take them out; if one’s not ready, leave on longer and check every 30 minutes.  

Ingredients for masa

10 ounces lard, at room temperature
17 ounces Maseca (or any corn flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups turkey stock, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon oregano

Directions for masa
Put lard in a stand mixer and whip until it is white and fluffy. Mix the maseca, salt, oregano and baking powder; fold it, little by little, into the lard. If it gets too dry, add a little bit of the turkey stock. The masa should form a dough that is a bit tacky, but not completely sticky. Once the masa has obtained this consistency, cover with towels to avoid drying out.

Guava and Goat Cheese Empanadas

8 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces guava paste
1 whole egg
1 box puff pastry sheets, room temperature
1 cup sugar
Maldon sea salt

In a stand mixer, add in the goat cheese and a pinch of salt. Begin to whip, and once the cheese is whipped, add in 2/3 of the heavy cream (reserve the rest for later). Keep mixing and add in the powdered sugar. Once fully incorporated, put the mixture in a piping bag or in a Ziploc bag with the edge cut off for piping. Next, cut thin strips of guava paste; reserve on a plate. Beat together the remaining heavy cream with one egg until fully incorporated as an egg wash. Working quickly, cut circles in the puff pastry with a 5-inch ring mold. Pipe the goat cheese mixture into the center of a pastry circle and add a strip or two of guava paste. Brush the inside edges of the pastry with egg wash and then fold over in half so that the edges meet. Pinch the edges together with a fork to seal them. Repeat to use all the pastry and filling. (Note: If not immediately baking, cover the raw empanadas with a damp paper towel to prevent drying.) Brush remaining egg wash over the filled pastries and sprinkle a little rock sugar and Maldon sea salt on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. 

These recipes originally appeared in the November 2022 issue of WALTER magazine .