Everyone we know works a little of “the old country” into their lineup of Thanksgiving dishes, whether it’s a giant tray of steaming hot lasagna before the turkey or kielbasa and cabbage rolls served on the side.
For our own feast, whether it’s here or at our home in southern Spain, we consider the influence Spain has had on America, from Isabella and Ferdinand’s support of Columbus’s exploration through Spanish missionaries bringing European grape varieties to our shores, to the more recent impact on dining and art brought by a wave of innovators in the kitchen and behind the camera.
For our U.S. Thanksgiving, it’s traditional all the way, except we work the flavors of Spain into each and every dish that we serve. Either way, we uncork several bottles of the best wine our adopted country can offer, pairing them with each course. From apéritif through dessert, we are never disappointed by the wide array of Spanish wines available to go with our Iberian-infused feast.
Here are a few of our favorite Spanish-tinged Thanksgiving dishes with delicious pairing picks from Wine Enthusiast’s Contributing Editor Michael Schachner, who reviews the wines of Spain and South America. Enjoy.
2 leeks, cleaned, green portions removed
4 ounces cured chorizo
2 baguettes, approximately 10 ounces each
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to coat bottom of 13 × 9 pan
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
4½ cups chicken stock, divided
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, and then slice into bite-size pieces.
Remove the casing from the chorizo. Cut the chorizo in quarters lengthwise, and then slice the quarters into small mini, bite-size chunks.
Cut baguettes in half lengthwise, slice into thin, bite-size strips.
Preheat a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, and heat for 30–60 seconds. Add the leeks, and stir occasionally until soft, about 3–5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper and red pepper, and stir. Add the chorizo, and stir occasionally until chorizo is soft and the leeks begin to take on a red color. Add the Sherry vinegar and stir.
Add 1 cup of chicken stock, turn the heat up slightly and bring to a boil. Add about one quarter of the bread, cutting into it with the edge of a wooden spoon to help absorb the liquid. Incrementally add the remaining chicken stock and bread in this manner, until all the bread has been incorporated and chicken stock has been absorbed. Sprinkle paprika and oregano over the mixture and stir in, until most of the bread takes on a reddish color. Salt to taste if necessary.
Grease a 13 × 9 inch pan with olive oil. Transfer stuffing to the pan, and bake at 350˚F for 50–60 minutes, until the top begins to brown and becomes slightly crusty. Serves 8.
This dish’s density and the savory spice of the chorizo call for a bold, young wine. Consider Toro’s full-bodied, dark wines made from the Tinta de Toro clone of Tempranillo. You won’t go wrong with the 2010 Termes from Numanthia-Termes ($28; 92 points); tannic on the surface but not too rough at its core, its black fruits, toast and char are tamed by this flavor-packed stuffing.
Green Beans with Marcona Almonds
1½ pounds thin green beans
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ cup Marcona almonds, divided
Bring a large saucepan half filled with salted water to a rolling boil. Add the beans, and blanch for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, and transfer to a large bowl.
Finely chop ¼ cup Marcona almonds in a food processor or grind them into small pieces using a mortar and pestle.
Whisk together the oil and vinegar and pour over the green beans. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and chopped almonds, and toss together until the beans are coated.
Transfer the beans to a large platter, pouring any dressing remaining in the bowl over the top. Sprinkle with ½ cup whole Marcona almonds and serve. Serves 8.
With this dish, strong acidity in your wine to match the vinegar component in the dressing is vital, and a young, fresh Verdejo with a zesty Sauvignon Blanc-like character will do the trick. The 2012 Verdejo from Blanco Nieva in Rueda ($22; 90 points) is a pungent wine with nettle, green apple and passion fruit aromas and flavors, along with integrated green, herbal characteristics that won’t stick out when paired with the beans.
Spanish Paprika and Herb Rubbed Turkey
1 turkey, 12–14 pounds, thawed, cleaned and patted dry
For the skin
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons Spanish paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried chopped rosemary
For inside the turkey
½ tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 leek, trimmed, cleaned and sliced
Preheat an oven to 350˚F.
Place the turkey breast side down on a rack in a large roasting pan.
Using your hands, mix the tomato paste, butter, salt, paprika, cayenne, thyme, oregano and rosemary in a small bowl. Rub a small amount on the underside of the turkey, then turn the turkey over so breast side is up.
Working from the neck end, use your fingers or a small knife to loosen the skin covering the turkey breast. Work about a quarter of the remaining rub under the skin on each side of the breast, being careful not to tear the skin. Using your hands, rub the remaining mixture over the entire turkey and inside the cavity.
Combine the sea salt, paprika, dried thyme and dried oregano, and sprinkle a small amount over the sliced leek. Place the leek slices in the turkey cavity. Sprinkle the remaining salt mixture over the top of the turkey.
Cook at 350˚F for 4–5 hours, until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165˚F. Allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes, carve and serve. Serves 8.
CVNE’s elegant, medium-bodied 2004 Imperial Gran Reserva ($60; 92 points), which is 100% Tempranillo, features dry tannins, firm acidity and racy flavors of cherry, red plum and herbs that will play perfectly off the turkey’s hints of paprika and oregano.