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Turkey and pork rinds: At Thanksgiving, Granite State Latino families connect to their roots through food

When Gustavo Quiñe celebrated his first Thanksgiving in 2016, he was thrilled with the Thanksgiving table set up and loved the pecan pie.

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But he was not a fan of the turkey. It was plain, simple and lacked any juiciness, he said.

Quiñe moved from Lima, Peru to Derry, New Hampshire with his wife, Aurelia, in 2016. For the next Thanksgiving, he took over dinner and gave that Thanksgiving a distinctive Peruvian flavor.

"I marinated the turkey the way a turkey should be marinated," Quiñe said.

According to Gustavo, the way a turkey should be marinated includes the essential salt and pepper, plus Coke, soy sauce, red pepper sauce and a slight touch of sugar at the end, all flavors from his home country. He also made pork rinds and sweet potato fries.

Preparing these dishes is a way for Quiñe to keep the family’s roots alive as they settle into life in the U.S., something many Latino and immigrant families in New Hampshire do during the holiday.

Quiñe said he enjoys watching his family dig into classic Peruvian dishes. He remembers how one year, everyone was fighting for the best pieces of pork rind since it wasn’t sliced.

"Everyone fought for the bone," he told NHPR.

Gustavo shares how to make causa peruana, a potato based dish that's easy to make for weeknight dinners.

Gustavo shares how to make causa peruana, a potato based dish that's easy to make for weeknight dinners.

Paula Maltais has been giving a lot of thought to what Thanksgiving will be like this year for her 3-year-old son Gael. She’s also from Peru and lives in Concord. For her, Thanksgiving will include traditional American fare from her husband’s family, turkey, apple pie and mashed potatoes.

Maltais said she’s excited about those dishes, but wants to ensure a Peruvian dish isn’t missing from the table. This year, she’ll make her grandma’s cheese salad, solterito de queso. 

For her, chopping the queso fresco and the smell of rocoto pepper frying in the pan takes her back to her grandmother’s kitchen in Peru.

She wants to share that connection to her Peruvian roots with her son.

Tony Elias, who works in Manchester, says he’s excited to cook for his family this Thanksgiving. It’s something he didn’t get to do last year because he was at work in Manchester, operating his food truck, The Spot To Go. 

Last year, he offered a Boricuan style marinated turkey, and his famous Puerto Rican pasteles, made with tender green plantain and pork.

But this year, business is doing well — he's even expanding his operation to Lawrence. That means he gets to stay home to cook for his family.

Dinner will include pork, rice and beans plus some of Elias’ takes on American classics like the green bean casserole.

"I prepare that but with my own flavors… A bit of this, a bit of that, you get it?" he said.

He’s also cooking his highly-requested turkey. NHPR had to ask what his secret ingredient was.

"Love," he said.

And that, for Elias, is the most important ingredient no matter where — or what — you’re eating for Thanksgiving.


Two Peruvian recipes

How to marinate turkey the Peruvian way, by Gustavo Quiñe

Ingredients

  • 10-pound frozen turkey
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Garlic Powder
  • Soy sauce
  • Coke
  • Salted sticks of butter

Instructions:

  1. Put the frozen turkey in a huge bowl of water with a cup of salt and let it rest for 24 hours. After the first 12 hours, flip the turkey. 
  2. Take the turkey out of the water and start to marinate it. In a separate medium bowl, mix: salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, Coke, soy sauce (known in Peru as sillao oscuro), non-spicy red pepper sauce and a bit of brown sugar. Put the marinade over the turkey using your hands or a brush. Cover all the possible parts of it. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F. 
  3. OPTIONAL: dice salted butter sticks, put that on small sticks and then add those to the turkey skin. 
  4. Let the marinated turkey rest for half an hour, and then, and then place in the oven for around 6 to 7 hours. Every two hours, flip the turkey. With a spoon, grab a bit of the juicy marinade and pour it over the turkey. 
  5. Take the turkey and out and let it cool. Use a fork to check the texture, it should be golden. 
  6. Serve it at your Thanksgiving table and enjoy. 

How to prepare Peruvian salad solterito de queso, by Paula Maltais

This recipe was developed by Maltais´ grandma.

Ingredients:

Corn kernels
Lima beans, peeled
Diced red onion
Diced queso fresco
Chopped parsley
For the dressing: salt, pepper, vinegar and vegetable oil

Instructions:

  1. Cook the grains together.
  2. Mix the grains with the onion and cheese.
  3. Add the dressing and mix.
  4. Serve with the parsley sprinkled all over the salad.