Recipe: Ancho-chili rubbed turkey with ancho gravy

by Julie Snyder

Ancho-Chili TurkeyAre you looking for a flavor that's totally different from what you usually serve at a family gathering? Rubbing the bird with a flavorful ancho-chili rub is a great way to celebrate a Tex-Mex style thanksgiving. It's not hot, just flavorful.

The rub does more than flavor the turkey. It keeps it incredibly juice and moist. Once you've tasted it, you'll make it again and again.

Whether you'll be serving a 20-pound turkey or a pair of Cornish game hens, you can adapt this recipe to your occasion.

Ancho-chili rubbed turkey with ancho gravy

Prep time: 90 minutes | Total time: 6 hours | Yield: 14 servings


• 3 large heads garlic
• 3 large dried ancho chilies, rinsed, stemmed, seeded, torn into pieces
• 1/2 cup oil (organic corn oil preferred)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon honey

• 1 17-to 18-pound turkey, neck and giblets reserved
• 2 tablespoons oil
• 1 1/2 pounds turkey neck or wings, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 3 celery stalks, chopped
• 1 large tomato, chopped
• 1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
• 5 cups canned low-salt chicken broth

• 2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
• 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
• Cayenne pepper


Perfect ancho paste:
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Separate but do not peal the heads of garlic into individual cloves. Pierce each clove once. Scatter the garlic on baking sheet and roast until it is tender and beginning to brown, about 25 minutes.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Cut the hard tip off each clove and peel. Pack enough garlic into 1/2-cup measuring cup to fill (about 40 cloves). Reserve any remaining garlic. Blend the 1/2 cup garlic in a food processor to form course puree. Place ancho chilies in small saucepan. Just cover with water. Simmer over medium-low heat until the chilies are soft, about 15 minutes. Add the chili mixture, oil, cumin, and honey to garlic in processor. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Terrific turkey:
Preheat the oven to 325° F. Pat turkey dry. Season with salt and pepper. Slide your hand under skin of turkey breast to loosen the skin. Spread 1/2 cup garlic-paste over breast under skin. If stuffing the turkey, spoon stuffing into main cavity.

Rub 2 tablespoons of the garlic-ancho paste over outside of turkey. Reserve remaining paste for gravy. Tie the legs together loosely. Place the turkey on a rack set in the roasting pan.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over high heat. Add the neck and giblets, turkey neck pieces and onion. Sauté until brown, about 15 minutes. Place contents of skillet around turkey in pan. Add the celery, tomato, allspice and any reserved garlic to pan. Pour in 2 cups of the broth. Place the roasting pan in lowest third of oven. Roast turkey 1 hour 30 minutes.

Tent turkey and entire pan loosely with heavy-duty foil. Continue to roast turkey. Baste frequently with the pan juices and 3 cups broth for about 1 hour 40 minutes longer for unstuffed turkey or about 2 hours 25 minutes longer for stuffed turkey. It's done when a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 180° F or until juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced with skewer. Place turkey on platter. Tent with foil; let rest at least 30 minutes. Reserve the mixture in pan for gravy.

Groovy gravy:
Using tongs, remove turkey parts from pan and discard. Pour the broth mixture into sieve set over large bowl. Press on the solids to release liquid. Spoon fat from pan juices. Add enough broth to juices to measure 6 cups. Stir 1/2 cup reserved garlic-chili paste in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until liquefied. Add the flour and stir about 1 minute. The mixture will be very thick. Gradually add the 6 cups broth mixture, whisking until smooth. Lower the heat to low. Simmer until the volume is reduced to 4 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with cayenne, salt and pepper. Serve turkey with gravy.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.