Thanksgiving in Madrid – TEFL Students
Alright, so you are living in Madrid and you probably don’t have the funds or the will to go home for Thanksgiving. So, what do you do? How can you bring all the joy and delicious food from Thanksgiving into your new home in Madrid? This was a question for me as well last year when it was my first year away for Thanksgiving. And I love thanksgiving, not just for family and football, but for the food. I also am an avid cook and I want you help you all have the best experience for your Thanksgiving abroad.
Before we get into my tips about the mouthwatering food the first thing I want to communicate to everyone is the importance of planning for this special day. Last year we planned for a couple weeks about the selections of food we NEEEDED and who was going to be joining us, but we still hit a couple of bumps in our holiday. So first off plan, plan and plan. Make sure you know how many people you are going to be cooing for what everyone is going to bring. Now you also need to communicate with everyone where they are going to cook the food that they are bringing. I found that because of the small kitchens in Madrid, and especially the small ovens, it was hard when people showed up and needed to use my kitchen to cook. I also highly suggest you find the person with the biggest apartment and the biggest and best kitchen. You also really should be cooking everything the night before or the days leading up to your special event (especially if you are the one doing the majority of the cooking). I however did not do this, and I was able to do some prep cooking during my siesta, but we actually were still cooking at 12 at night, and hilariously my family started to call me around 10 when they had finished their meals, and my family lives on the east coast. But once you found out what everyone is cooking congratulations you’re well on your way to having a magical holiday with your new (or old) best friends from your TEFL course in Madrid.
Where to shop
Okay here comes the tricky part. The menu. Not only do you have to plan out what everyone will be bringing you also want to make sure that you cover all the thanksgivings traditional food that you are accustomed too. So, the bad news is, and I’m sure that your suspected this, you are not going to be able to find all things you might want to have. You could I guess head over to a local Taste of America, which if you didn’t know will have all of your classic American food, like pop tarts, and search there but I assume that you are on a budget just like me and don’t want to pay the prices that they charge. All of the things that I am going to using in this recipe guide came from Corte Ingles but if you don’t have one of those near you just scope out the local supermarkets before the big day, so you can get all the ingredients.
But let’s start with some cheaper options. For me I really like to have cranberry sauce, that sweet gel like substance is necessary for a good turkey sandwich at the end of the night, but this was the things the one real item that I was not able to find. But we were able to come up with a good alternative that gave me the sweetness that I wanted during our meal. So, what we did was we just got a red jelly, whichever you like the best, and we added some camembert, or another gooey cheese, and toasted in in the oven and I have to say that it was the best thing for dipping bread into and I highly recommend it.
The good news is that mashed potatoes are not going to have a problem with just make sure that you boil and mash them in advance because they are going to take a very long time to cook especially if you do not have a big pot and you are cooking for a lot of people. (this was one of my mistakes) But what’s is mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving without gravy and this is also going to be almost impossible to find without breaking the bank. Now if you are vegan you’re not going to like this recipe that I’m going to give you but if you vegetarian you still are able to make some really good gravy. And if you are not an iron chef, don’t worry, neither was I but this is a really easy way to make gravy and you can make it however think you want. So, you can adjust this recipe to however many people you are going to have at your shindig. The first thing you need is some type of cooking stock. I used beef cooking stock for this event, I’ve used this recipe many times since, but you can also use chicken or if you are a vegetarian or you will have vegetarians at your party and don’t want to anyone to miss out on delicious gravy you can also get vegetable stock. If you really want to get crazy I have even used chorizo stock! I’ve used the cube and liquid versions for this recipe and I enjoy them both, so it up to you which you want, but the cubes will be cheaper if you plan on making a lot or recreating this recipe. Then you are going to need heavy cream. And you can find this pretty much no matter where you go to shop. You could use milk but not going to be as thick and therefore it’s not going to be as good. The other ingredients are just water and a little bit of flour. To begin (and remember you can adjust this to what ever size you need) is one cup of stock and half cup of creamer, and two table spoons of water and flour. But don’t just combined them all into a pot! You first want to bring the stock to a boil. Once it is boiling you can reduce the heat and you can add the creamer. Stir that until it is mixed completely. Now a trick for the flour (which will make it thicker, so add more if it is not the consistency that you desire) is that you should combining the water and the flour first and stir it in a separate cup before adding this to the boiling mixture or creamer and stock. If you do this, it will make sure that all of the ingredients will mix properly, and you will not have large flour chunks in your gravy and you will become the hero of this party.
Now to the stuffing. You are certainly not going to find a box of premade stuffing at Corte Ingles. But I have a pretty good recipe for stuffing as well. All you need in bread, onions, celery, butter or oil and some type of cooking stock, I used chicken. Also, this was my first-time cooking stuffing for Thanksgiving and I made a mistake. You actually want to use hard bread for the stuffing and you need to leave you bread out, so you can reach the desired stiffness. Or you can use a baguette which is what I ended up doing and it was still a hit! First you want to chop of the bread into little pieces and, actually, you want to chop everything up and put it all into the same cooking pan. Then you simply add the stock and butter and give it a mix. Now for this you can make it the night before and leave it in the refrigerator uncooked and cook it when you are ready so that it is nice and crispy when everyone arrives but if you do this I suggest not adding the liquids, so you don’t end up with a stuffing soup the next day. But to either their own. Now I used a decent sized baguette, one onion, 5 celery sticks, a half of cup of butter or oil and 1 cup of stock. But you can adjust this as well as you see fit.
The main course of course is the turkey, which you can buy a whole bird in the frozen section of Corte Ingles but if you really are not that serious about needed a whole turkey you can buy strips of turkey as well for a reasonable price. And this is what we did. Now I don’t have recipe for cooking the best turkey but do whatever you think will taste best! And when in doubt go on pintrest and you will be able to find much more experience cooks giving their recipes.
The desert can also be a little tricky, but you can always just make your favorite cookies and it will still be good. And I assume that no one what’s to buy a pie dish and I would be surprised if your apartment came with one. But I do know that a friend of mine picked up pecan pie from Taste of America is it was amazing. Of course, its going to cost you a little bit more but if you’re going to spend a lot of money on something it might as well be desert. I think they even have pumpkin pie as well.
Well I hope this helps you have an amazing thanksgiving with all your new friends from TEFL Madrid Academy!