Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which is my most-hated of all holidays. Forget the whole Indian slaughter thing–Thanksgiving messes with our production schedule. Turkey as served by gabachos is vile. Thanksgiving is a manufactured holiday that forces families together usually torn apart by the machinations of capitalism.
But does anyone listen to me? HELL NO. Hell, my own Mexican mom has zealously celebrated El Dia de Acción de Gracias even though it's not a Mexican tradition, going so far as to make a full turkey, cranberry dressing, stuffing, and all that jazz. She has always ignored my pleas to do something, anything not involving an American-style turkey. Maybe I should show her this list, because turkey is not only indigenous to Mexico, but we have regional recipes far better than what Butterball has convinced us is the only way to eat guajolote. And, no: turkey tacos or enchiladas, or turkey rubbed with chipotle or using turkey as a substitute for chicken doesn't count. We're talking about dishes with some heritage, cabrones.
5. Turkey Mole
This one is obvious, and it's also historic. Mexico's ancients were eating mole long before cows, pigs, and chickens invaded the Valley of the Sun, so they were likely slathering sauces on turkeys when the Visigoths were still ruling Spain. Here, the infamously dry meat becomes sprightly due to the all-encompassing mole.
4. Turkey Tamales
And if the ancients weren't eating their turkey in mole, then they were stuffing them in masa, steaming the results, and creating tamales. Turkey tamales usually come with a green sauce ala their pollo hermano, the better to let it all soak in.
3. Caldo de Pavo
Turkey soup–'nuff said.
2. Torta de Pavo
Pochos have been stuffing leftover turkey into French rolls and making sandwiches since at least the 1950s, but from Mexico City to Central America, tortas de pavo are an all-year delicacy (in El Salvador and stateside Salvi spots, it's called pan de chumpe–silly Salvis!). They're simple things, usually enlivened with avocado and pickled red onions. In a bolillo, they become epic; in French rolls, just weak salsa.
1. Any Turkey Recipe from the Yucatán
The true capital of turkey dishes in Mexico is in the Yucatán, where the Mayans have been preparing the bird any number of ways since the Aztecs were stuck in caves in Aztlán. The most famous dishes, rellenos and sopa de lima, are exercises in stunning flavors anchored by pavo's subtle milkiness, and turkey meat finds it way into the state's other unique dishes: salbutes, vaporcito, panuchos, even pibil. Unfortunately, OC has only one true Yucateco place–Condé Cakes in SanTana–and they didn't have turkey last time I visited. But one can always dream…