Thanksgiving falls at a perfect time on the baseball calendar, right on the heels of the World Series and awards season. It's an ideal time for players and fans to catch their collective breath before the Hot Stove burns bright again during the Winter Meetings.
Major League players, coaches, and broadcasters love a delicious Thanksgiving meal as much as the rest of us, and many of them have been kind enough to share their favorite recipes. We've been collecting recipes from Major Leaguers for the last few years, and below is a sampling of some of the best we've encountered, along with the stories behind them. We'll be adding to this leading up to Thanksgiving, so please keep checking back if you are looking for some inspiration for your family dinner.
Millie Arenado, mother of Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado
"Black beans and rice are a Cuban staple, but at Thanksgiving and Christmas we cook it a little differently. It is called congri," Millie said. "The difference is that they are cooked together. Separately they are called arroz con frijoles and together it is congri.
"My husband Fernando's grandmother was sort of the 'queen congri maker.' Abuela Nena, as she was called, was the glue that held this huge family together. She died at 98, with her mind as sharp as a tack. … The aunts have taken over that cooking role. They use this huge pot, or El Caldero, large enough to feed an army. Leftovers are warmed up for breakfast and they cook fried eggs and place them on top."
1 pound black beans uncooked
6 cups water
2 cups long grain rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
2 bay leaves
4 cups black water (reserved from cooking the beans)
Salt and pepper
Directions: Rinse beans and place in pressure cooker with six cups of water. Cook beans for 30 minutes until tender. (Stovetop method: Place beans in a large saucepan. Add water, bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook beans for 60 minutes until tender.)
Using a colander inside a large bowl, drain beans and keep black water. Place rice in a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Set aside to drain.
In a large saucepan heat olive oil, sauté onions and garlic, until onions are translucent. Add cumin, oregano and bay leaf. Add the rice, cooked beans and mix well. Measure out 4 cups of the black water that was reserved after draining beans and add to saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes until all the rice is absorbed. Remove and discard bay leaf, fluff with fork and serve.
Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Sweet Honey Figs
Royals pitcher Danny Duffy and wife Sara
For the tagine:
1 red onion, sliced in half moons
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 pounds lamb, cut in large chunks
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon saffron threads
Salt, to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
Water, as needed
For the fig and chestnut garnish:
7 ounces dried figs
1 cup jarred, roasted chestnuts
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon orange blossom water, optional
Parsley, for garnish
Directions: Layer the bottom of a tagine with sliced onion and vegetable oil. Gently heat over medium and cook to soften the onions.
Meanwhile, gather your spices. Saffron lends the most haunting flavor to the tagine, while ginger and garlic give it kick and cinnamon makes everything better. Cut the lamb in large chunks and toss with spice mixture. Add to tagine and cook on simmer until tender (two to four hours). The Duffys' recipe is courtesy of globaltableadventure.com.
Video: Wittgren discusses his favorite Thanksgiving dish
Linguisa Thanksgiving Stuffing
Twins catcher Jason Castro
3-4 bags of cubed, seasoned dry bread crumbs
4-5 stalks of celery, chopped
1-2 sprigs of thyme
1-2 chopped yellow onions
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4-5 sticks authentic linguisa, cut into cubes
3-4 boxes 32-ounce chicken stock (organic preferred)
1 roasted turkey breast separate from your big bird
Fresh ground pepper
Directions: Fill stock pot with chicken stock, celery, thyme, onion, garlic, fresh ground pepper and whole turkey breast. Bring to boil, then simmer one to two hours. Fry linguisa to slightly crisp, drain on paper towels. Put bread crumbs into large mixing bowl. Strain broth, pull turkey meat from breast and add to bread crumbs. Add broth until consistency is that of a nice stuffing. If making a day ahead, cover and put into fridge.
On the day of, place some of the stuffing into the main Thanksgiving bird, and roast turkey as directed, put the rest into a large baking dish. Bake at 350 for about an hour.
Anna Anderson's Pumpkin Cheesecake
Wife of Brewers pitcher Chase Anderson
"My wife's family says she can't come to Thanksgiving if she doesn't make her pumpkin cheesecake," Chase said. "She makes it from scratch. That's her thing, every Thanksgiving. ... I'm pretty sure she'd share it with the baseball world."
Total time: 11 hr 55 min
Prep: 10 min
Inactive: 9 hr
Cook: 2 hr 45 min
Yield: 12 servings
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 3/4 cups sugar
2 lbs cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
6 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups sweetened whipped cream
1/3 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped (optional)
Directions: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Brush a 10-inch springform pan with some of the butter. Stir the remaining butter with the crumbs, 1/4 cup of the sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, packing it tightly and evenly. Bake until golden brown, 15-to-20 minutes. Cool on a rack, then wrap the outside of the springform pan with foil and place in a roasting pan.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups sugar and beat until just light, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed. Beat in the sour cream, then add the pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, one teaspoon salt and the spices and beat until just combined. Pour into the cooled crust.
Gently place the roasting pan in the oven (don't pull the rack out) and pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake until the outside of the cheesecake sets but the center is still loose, about 1 hour, 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the door briefly to let out some heat. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for one more hour, then carefully remove from the roasting pan and cool on a rack. Run a knife around the edges, cover and refrigerate at least eight hours or overnight.
Bring the cheesecake to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Unlock and remove the springform ring. To finish, place a dollop of the whipped cream on each slice and sprinkle with the toasted pecans.
Diane Musgrove, mother of Astros pitcher Joe Musgrove
"When I was a young girl, I never cared for yams," Diane said. "Family members were assigned what to bring over for the holiday, and to me, the yams were basic and plain. Nothing to them. After I married, I was introduced to this candied yams recipe from Grandma, and it changed my opinion. These yams complemented the turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing so well, it became a family favorite with everyone in my family. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do and may you have a blessed Thanksgiving with your family and loved ones."
6-8 medium size yams
2 large Granny Smith apples
1/4 cup pineapple juice (optional)
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch ground cloves
Directions: Peel and coin yams, 1/4 inch thick. Place yams in a large pot of water, enough to cover them. Bring the water with yams to a boil for five minutes. Drain yams and set aside.
Peel two large Granny Smith apples and cut into small chunks (be sure to remove the core). Take a 13 x 9 glass Pyrex dish and lightly butter the bottom of it, using a napkin. Take yams and cut apples and mix the two together and pour into the Pyrex dish, spreading evenly on the bottom. Melt (but don't brown) the stick of butter in a two-quart saucepan. Lower heat and add while stirring in the sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, pineapple juice and a pinch of ground cloves. Cook on low for one minute or until thoroughly mixed, then pour mixture over yams and apples. Take a slotted spoon and mix the yams and apples and coat well.
Bake yams at 375 degrees in a preheated oven uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove yams from oven and cover top of yams/apples with miniature marshmallows. Place back in the oven for about four minutes to melt marshmallows. If you make this dish in advance, add marshmallows just before serving for best results. Over time, you can adjust your ingredients to your liking.
Lucille Singleton's Baked Mac & Cheese
Yankees broadcaster, 15-year MLB vet Ken Singleton
"My mom used to make the best macaroni and cheese. My kids called it Grandma's mac and cheese. My mom has passed away, but before she died she gave the recipe to my daughter. Grandma's mac and cheese lives on!"
1 16 ounce box elbow macaroni
10 ounce package Colby or Sharp Cheddar cheese
Small package grated cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
12 ounce can evaporated milk
10.75 ounce can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1-1 1/2 cup milk (or half & half)
1/2 stick butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
Cook macaroni al dente (do not overcook since it will cook further while baking). Drain well and place into buttered casserole dish. Mix in about 3/4 of the butter. Add salt and pepper. Shred Colby cheese and mix with macaroni.
In small pan, melt the following until cheese melts:
• 1/4 stick butter
• cheddar soup
• other cheddar cheese
• evaporated milk
• dry mustard
• sour cream
Beat eggs with milk (or half & half) and add to mixture in pan. Mix well and pour over macaroni in casserole dish. Add small amount of Colby on top and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 degrees until all liquid disappears.
Sweet Potato Casserole
Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes said of his favorite Thanksgiving dish: "Probably the sweet potato casserole, because it's absolutely delicious. It's like eating dessert with dinner."
For specifics, we turn to Reds broadcaster and former reliever Jeff Brantley, who said his wife Ashley's version is quite the hit. Here is Ashley's recipe.
1/2 cup butter
6 sweet potatoes, cooked, peeled, sliced
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Directions: Add butter to hot potatoes. Combine with next six ingredients in blender or with mixer. Place mixture in a greased two-quart casserole dish. Mix topping in a small bowl and put on top of casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Mashed sweet potatoes
Brewers reliever Jacob Barnes
"I'm sure you will get many more exotic recipes from other people, but the traditional dishes have a place, too, and this has always been a favorite of mine. It has been on my family's Thanksgiving dinner table every year since I was born."
3 pounds sweet potatoes peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Salt to taste
Whole bag of regular-sized marshmallows
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish and set aside.
Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot, cover with water, and boil until tender (about seven minutes) Drain and return to the pot. Add butter, milk, cinnamon, brown sugar and salt to the potatoes and mash until smooth.
Transfer the mashed potatoes to the prepared casserole dish. Place in the oven until heated through (about 15 minutes) .
Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven. Top with marshmallows. Place back into the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the topping is bubbly and brown.
Courtesy of Lisa Corrigan, wife of Rockies broadcaster Jack Corrigan
Mariners broadcaster Rick Rizzs said his favorite Thanksgiving dish is "a real good homemade bread dressing baked in the oven. I love it when it comes out just a little crispy on the outside and still tender and flavorful on the inside with some sage and chicken broth seasonings. Of course, smothered in gravy."
2 cups water
2 sticks butter
2 bunches celery stalks, chopped
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 1/2 large loaves white bread, cut into small squares
1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 pound ground beef
Salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano
Directions: Brown ground beef and drain. Remove from stove. Place water, butter, celery and onion in a large pan. Boil until celery and onion soften and half of the liquid has been cooked away. Generously add seasonings to taste during this process. Remove from stove.
In a large bowl, add the mixture to the bread, ground beef, mushrooms and soup. Mix thoroughly. Place enough stuffing into the turkey cavity, with the remainder going into a large baking dish. Or you can place all of it in a baking dish, if you prefer. The stuffing inside will cook with the bird. For the remainder, bake at 350 degrees for about one hour.
"The quantity is large," Corrigan said, "but everyone usually wants more than one helping."
Dodgers broadcaster Joe Davis
Dry brine three days in advance with a salt-based rub (on and under skin). Include baking powder (to promote crispy skin) and whatever herbs and spices you'd like. Coat in softened butter right before putting on smoker (again, on and under skin). Maintain temperatures between 275 and 325. Don't overdo it with smoke. I like to do one chunk of hickory. I'm sure any fruit wood would be good, too. It's ready when the breast reaches 160-165 degrees. Carve the full breasts off the bone, slice against the grain (so every piece has some of that crispy skin).
Café los Cheesy Potato Casserole
Rangers broadcaster Emily Jones
"This recipe feeds at least 12," Jones said. "Better to cut everything in half."
2 bags of shredded hash brown potatoes
1 can cream of chicken soup
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon of salt
1/2 tablespoon of white pepper
Dash of cayenne pepper
Directions: Cook at 350 for 30-45 minutes until brown around the edges.
Stacy's Cauliflower Casserole
Stacy Beasley, wife of Rangers third-base coach Tony Beasley
"My favorite dish for Thanksgiving is my wife's cauliflower casserole," Tony said. "She doesn't make it often enough and hasn't revealed the recipe to my brother, who has fallen in love with it as well (hopefully he doesn't see this).
16 ounces frozen cauliflower
8 ounces cream cheese with chives
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
3 green onions, chopped)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 pieces of bacon, fried crisp -- you can add more bacon if you'd like
Directions: Cook cauliflower until soft (8-10 minutes), drain well and break up florets with spoon and mash them. In a two-quart casserole pan, mix in cream cheese, cheddar cheese, onions, salt and pepper and bacon. Dust with paprika.
Bake on 350 for 35 minutes or until brown and fluffy
Ricky's Corny Cornbread
Nancy Buechele, wife of Rangers first-base coach Steve Buechele
2 roasted ears of corn, taken off the husk
1 can corn, undrained
1 can of cream corn
8 ounces sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
1 box Jiffy corn bread mix
1 stick butter melted
Directions: Mix everything together and put in a casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes.
Rockies broadcaster Jenny Cavnar
Originally from Myrt Cavnar, published in the Galilee Baptist Church Cookbook in 1948
"It's from the Galilee Baptist Church Cookbook -- the church is in Denver. That was my grandmother's recipe. They just asked the church members to submit their own recipes. I wonder, too. I wonder how long Velveeta cheese has been around? It's So it's almost a 70-year-old recipe, which is really funny, because the ingredients are very simple. I would never eat Velveeta cheese, melted margarine and Ritz crackers. But because it's a family tradition, you have to. And every bite is always amazing. It never fails.
"It is not the fruitcake of Thanksgiving. It is actually a fan favorite in the Cavnar family tradition. That pan will definitely be licked clean."
2 pkgs. 10 oz. each) frozen broccoli
1/2 stick margarine
1/2 pound Velveeta cheese
TOPPING: 1/2 stick margarine, melted; 1/4 lb. Ritz cracker, crushed
Cooking instructions: Cook broccoli according to directions. Drain. Melt cheese and 1/2 stick of margarine over the broccoli. Pour into casserole (1 quart size). Top with mixture of melted margarine and crushed Ritz crackers. Bake thirty minutes at 350 degrees.
Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.