Wed | Jan 23, 2019

Thanksgiving-Jamaican style

Published:Thursday | November 27, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Martinez gets ready to prepare a side dish for her favourite national holiday.
Cranberry relish made with fresh cranberries.
Elizabeth Lee Martinez, chargé d'affaires at the US Embassy, says that Thanksgiving is her favourite holiday. - Photo by Rudolph Brown/ Photographer
Martinez adds a Jamaican twist to her chocolate pecan pie, substituting bourbon for Appleton rum.

Nashauna Drummond, Lifestyle Editor

When it comes to food, there are no boundaries. Like music, a good meal is universal. So Food was thrilled when chargé d'affaires of the United States Embassy, Elizabeth Lee Martinez, invited us to share in her favourite holiday - Thanksgiving.

Elizabeth Lee Martinez assumed her duties as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in St Andrew on September 19, 2013. She is a career member of the US Senior Foreign Service, and has more than 25 years of experience with the US Department of State.

Not only is it her favourite holiday, it's the favourite of many of her countrymen, even more cherished than Christmas and Easter. Martinez, who's from Ohio, explains that Thanksgiving is deeply rooted in the country's history.

Though the day is often consumed by activities in the kitchen, at the end of it all, Martinez notes, "You get to sit down and relax, enjoy friends and family."

Regardless of where she is posted during the holiday, she always enjoys it. For our feast, there was no problem getting all the ingredients she needed. However, getting a turkey - the star attraction - has proven to be a challenge.


Martinez said that many of the approximately 40,000 Americans living in Jamaica take part in the 'Turkey Bowl' tradition, which is like touch (American) football, which they play on Thanksgiving morning. This works out to be a great way to work up an appetite before the big meal.

Martinez has put a local twist on some of her dishes, particularly her pecan pie, where she has substituted bourbon for good old Jamaican Appleton Rum. With the turkey done way in advance, our meal consisted of cranberry-glazed sweet potato, chocolate pecan pie, green bean casserole and cranberry relish made with fresh cranberries.

Here, she shares some of her favourite Thanksgiving side dishes with Food.

Cranberry-Glazed Sweet Potatoes


8 medium sweet potatoes (2-3 lbs)

A pinch of salt

1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce

1/2 cup maple or pancake syrup

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 small red bell pepper, diced

1/2 small yellow bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


(1) Pre-heat oven to 350 .

(2) Wash, peel and cube sweet potatoes.

(3) Place sweet potatoes and pinch of salt into a pan of boiling water. Cook for 6 minutes. Drain.

(4) In a saucepan, melt butter. Add lime juice, cranberry sauce, syrup and orange zest. Reduce mixture by half.

(5) Toss sweet potatoes in sauce and place in ovenproof dish. Bake for 7 minutes.

(6) Remove dish from oven and sprinkle diced bell peppers and cilantro over sweet potatoes.

Carrot Souffle'

7 cups chopped carrot (about 2lbs)

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup light or fat-free sour cream

3tbs flour

2tbs butter, melted

1tsp baking powder

1tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

Cooking Spray

1tsp powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

(1) Cook carrots in boiling water for 15 minutes or until very tender and drain.

(2) Place carrot in a food processor and process until smooth. Add sugar and next 7 ingredients (sugar through eggs) pulse to combine.

(3) Spoon mixture into a 1-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until puffed and set. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Chocolate pecan pie

For the crust:

11/4 cups all-purpose flour (150 grams), plus more for dusting

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

10 tbs unsalted butter, preferably high-fat, European style, chilled and cubed

2-4 tbs ice water, as needed

For the filling:

11/2 cups pecan halves (170 grams)

6tbs unsalted butter

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (56 grams)

3/4 cup dark corn syrup

4 large eggs

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (100 grams)

1tbs unsweetened cocoa powder (5 grams)

2 tbs Appleton VX or Reserve Rum

1/4tsp fine sea salt

Make the crust:

(1) In a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt. Add butter and pulse until the mixture forms chickpea-size pieces.

(2) Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough just comes together. It should be moist but not wet.

(3) On a lightly floured surface, gather the dough into a ball. Flatten into a disk with the heel of your hand. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

(4) On a lightly floured surface, after removing plastic wrap, roll out dough to a 12-inch circle. Transfer crust to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold over any excess dough, then crimp edges. Prick crust all over with a fork and chill crust for 30 minutes.

(5) While the dough chills, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line chilled crust with aluminium foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake until very pale golden, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

(6) Reduce oven temperature to 350 . Spread pecans on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast nuts, shaking pan occasionally, until fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool.

Make the filling:

(1) In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter and chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth, then cool.

(2) In a large bowl, whisk together cooled chocolate-butter mixture, corn syrup, eggs, sugar, cocoa powder, bourbon/Appleton Rum and salt.

(3) Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Arrange pecans over filling. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the filling is just set when the pan is jiggled - 30 to 40 minutes.

(4) Remove pie from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before serving.