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Homage to the East L.A. Turkey

Homage to the East L.A. Turkey

Growng up, our family celebrated Thanksgiving in the traditional way.  Mom always prepared a stuffed turkey turkey, green salad, green beans and cranberry slices from the can.  And, red wine from the San Antonio winery that’s still located on north Broadway street, on the east side of Los Angeles.  But it was my dad Enrique’s custom for my mom, Lola, to serve beans, as the last dish of our Thanksgiving meal. Beans were accompanied with home made flour tortillas and green chile salsa.  Enrique would refer to beans as the dessert.  And that’s the way it was.

As an homage to my family’s Thanksgiving history I present this rustic thanksgiving turkey recipe prepared with Mexican cuisine ingredients.  My recipe is modified from Saveur magazine, 2005. – Baked Beans with  Grouse.

This dish is super rich, savory, and full of complex flavors.   Let’s get started.





1 lb of dried pinto beans

1 cup onion chopped

¼ cup piloncillo

1/3  cup dark agave nectar or ¼ cup dark molasses

2 teaspoons dry mustard

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons oregano

3 chile de arbor peppers

1 tablespoon salt

½ lb Mexican chicharrón con carne cut in ½ inch pieces

1  2-2½ lb. half of a turkey breast, skin on

8 cups water




Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spread the beans on a flat surface and inspect and remove any debris and broken beans then wash them in water and drain.

Place the beans in a dutch oven with 8 cups of water.  Add onions, molasses, piloncillo, chiles, mustard, cumin, oregano and salt to pot with beans and stir well. Embed the chicharron in the beans.  Bring to a boil, cover and place it in the oven and cook for 2 to 3 hours or until the beans are soft and creamy. Periodically stir the beans and check the water level and add hot water to keep the beans covered in water 1 inch above the beans as necessary.

While the beans are cooking, season turkey breast with salt.  In a large fry pan add 2  tablespoons of olive oil,  brown the turkey skin side down for 12 minutes.  After cooking the beans until soft, remove the dutch oven from the rack in the oven, and tuck the breast skin side up in the beans.

Return to the oven, cover the pot and bake, covered for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the meat reaches 155°F.  Remove the turkey and allow to cool 15 minutes.  If you prefer your baked beans syrupy place the dutch oven on the stove burner and simmer the beans 15 minutes to thicken the beans.




Did you know the Mayan civilization domesticated the turkey?

Had two replies from followers of the blog suggesting to serve beans as a Thanksgiving dinner side dish or to serve the beans with left over turkey . Great ideas.  See their comments below.


  1. This looks like a great dish, nice side to a Thanksgiving meal and can be a meal in itself on a given day.

    • Good ideas about serving beans as a side. Substitute for mashed potatoes?

  2. I think I would just make the beans and eat them with the left over turkey on top.

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