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Turkey Twist: Two popular San Antonio restaurants put their spin on Thanksgiving

Looking to try something different this Thanksgiving? KENS 5 shows you a Mexican-style turkey, and a Cajun-style dressing.

SAN ANTONIO — Looking for a tasteful twist on Thanksgiving? Look no further. 

We ventured through San Antonio to find different ways to spice up your holiday spread. We arrived to restaurant staples Acadiana Cafe and Mi Tierra Café y Panaderia, where we were invited into the kitchen to check out how they put a unique spin on the Thanksgiving feast. 

Every year, it is usually the same ol’ bird. And though Thanksgiving is heavy on the tradition, sometimes it's nice to jazz it up.

An overlooked Thanksgiving essential

First stop, Mi Tierra Café. 

Manager Gerardo Carvajal said the downtown favorite has been serving authentic food for 80 years. It remains open on Thanksgiving, and if you stop by you can expect two options on the menu. 

One option is the traditional meal that comes with roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, candied yams or cranberry sauce.

“We also have our own twist,” Carvajal said. “We have turkey and mole.”

Their twist on turkey may not be new for some. But it involves a rich and beloved Mexican tradition, mole. 

No fewer than 35 ingredients are used to make Mi Tierra's take on the sauce. 

Credit: KENS 5

“We are going to start to fry everything.”

In Mi Tierra's kitchen, Carvajal began cooking up every single one of those ingredients. Among them: almonds, cinnamon, chocolate, cookies, peppers and garlic. 

Just to name a few. 

It's a labor-intensive cook, one that takes "a good couple of hours or more."

Carvajal said the original mole recipe called for even more ingredients –  75, to be exact – adding it was created to be paired with turkey.

“As you know, the turkey has a very distinct flavor from chicken or any other items,” he said. "It just pairs perfectly with it, like it was meant to be.”

After cooking each item in peanut oil, they're blended together and cooked for another 20 minutes. The turkey with mole is on top of a dressing that is mixed with tamales. The eatery calls this a "Mexican-style turkey" topped with mole poblano. It has the tamale stuffing, along with arroz con rajas.

We gave it a try, and were overwhelmed by an explosion of flavors in every bite. The texture was nicely paired with the tamale-mixed stuffing. 

'We are always open to try new things'

Next stop: Acadiana Cafe, which is known for its true Cajun cuisine and can be found on Loop 410 South off Exit #8. The restaurant has been around for more than 35 years. 

Once you arrive, be prepared to be greeted by Saylor, a boisterous fellow who has a love for people and his cooking. He is the "King of fried turkeys."

“When I think about Thanksgiving, I think about fried turkeys,” he said. "Now, we are doing for the holiday season. For the month of November and December we average about 2,000 turkeys.”

Acadiana Cafe is known as a turkey spot with all the traditional fixings. It has the cornbread dressing, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce and many other items. This year, just for KENS 5, Saylor decided to cook a different dressing known in the south.

“Shrimp and rice dressing,” he said. “San Antonio is so multi-cultural, diverse. So, we are always open to new things.”

The shrimp and rice dressing recipe is below. 

Credit: Acadiana Cafe

This isn’t like your typical dry dressing; this is moist. The shrimp-and-rice creation is then stuffed into the fried turkey, which makes for perfect pairing.

Credit: KENS 5

“As we say in the South, this sure makes my mouth happy,” he said.

Acadiana Cafe is still accepting orders for turkeys, and is also selling the shrimp-and-rice dressing this year.  For more information click here.