This Thanksgiving, chef Robert Del Grande wants you to dig into dinner with your hands. Pick up a shrimp coated with garlic butter sizzling in its shell and let the juice dribble down your fingers. Scoop succulent Gulf crab salad and chunky guacamole onto a tortilla chip. Unwrap the warm corn husk from a fragrant pork tamale and spoon some ancho sauce on top.
"Go for a primal experience," Del Grande suggests. Nobody will miss the sweet potatoes. Or go for an element of surprise, and serve the sweet potatoes with smoky poblanos and tangy crème fraîche. "I've never been attracted to traditional foods," says Del Grande, a brilliant chef who in the early Eighties helped pioneer Southwestern cuisine at the outstanding Cafe Annie in Houston. "I just want whatever I make to be good, with a taste of the region." At Thanksgiving, that means celebrating Southwestern flavors rather than recreating a more stereotypical New England menu.
Related: Cinco De Mayo Appetizers