Chef Aarón Sánchez on the Thanksgiving side that mom Zarela Martinez approves of

Chef Aarón Sánchez on the Thanksgiving side that mom Zarela Martinez approves of chefaaron resize wordpress edit food NBC Latino News

Chef Aarón Sánchez is in charge of making the sides for his family’s Thanksgiving meal.

Chef Aarón Sánchez may be one of the most recognizable Latin chefs in the country, thanks to his appearances on Food Network hits like Chopped, Iron Chef America, The Best Thing I Ever Ate (the list goes on and on), but when it comes to Thanksgiving, he keeps it simple.

So simple in fact, that on the biggest food-centric holiday of the year, he sticks to preparing the side dishes. And it’s all under strict orders from his mamá, Zarela Martinez, whom many praise as the “Queen of Mexican Food” for having been an ambassador of her native cuisine.

“My mom is the boss on Thanksgiving; to this day, I’m still relegated to cooking the side dishes,” says Sánchez. “She doesn’t let me come near the main course!”

Enter his savory chorizo and cornbread stuffing, a favorite in Sánchez’s family with its unique twist on a Thanksgiving classic. Sweet, crumbly corn bread is paired with spicy, fragrant chorizo for a combination of textures and flavors that Sánchez calls “amazing.” It’s a side dish that can easily be the star of the Thanksgiving meal; an occasion that Sanchez – a proud dad of two – looks forward to celebrating every year.

“We spend the entire day cooking, eating and drinking, starting with an extended cocktail hour and going late into the night,” explains Sánchez. “Thanksgiving is all about family for me.

Straight from the pages of his cookbook “Simple Foods, Big Flavor,” here’s the recipe for Chef Aarón’s stuffing.

Chef Aarón Sánchez on the Thanksgiving side that mom Zarela Martinez approves of as chorizo and corn bread stuffing 3 food NBC Latino News

Chef Aarón Sánchez’s recipe for chorizo and cornbread stuffing is simple to make, giving home cooks more time to spend with their families on Thanksgiving Day. (Photo/Courtesy Shorefire)

Chorizo and Cornbread Stuffing

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 35 min

Makes 3 cups


1 pound fresh Mexican chorizo (check out our NBC Latino recipe for fresh chorizo here)

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish (optional)

1/2 cup chicken stock (low-sodium store-bought is fine)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Chopped fresh cilantro and grated cotija cheese, for garnish (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook the chorizo, breaking it up with a spoon and stirring occasionally as it cooks, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic to the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have browned, about 10 minutes. Add the crumbled cornbread and cilantro and gradually pour in enough of the stock so the stuffing is not too dry but at the same time not too wet. Stir gently and well.

Butter a small casserole dish. Spread the stuffing in an even layer. Bake until it’s heated through and lightly browned on top, about 20 minutes. Serve right away, garnished with the cilantro and cotija, if desired.

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