_DSC5216Thanksgiving in the Southwest is a unique affair. A variety of colorful, flavorful chilis and peppers are in season in the autumn months, and to leave them out of the annual Thanksgiving feast is a fall faux-pas. This smoky southwestern turkey undoubtedly deserves the spotlight at your table this year, and the zesty  cornbread dressing is the perfect accompaniment. 

Recipe and Food Styling by Lucy Miller

Photography by Ken Amorosano


Yield: 8-10 portions

1 Turkey

Chicken broth

1/2 cup roasted garlic (about 40 cloves)

3 large dried ancho chilies, rinsed,

  stemmed, seeded, torn into pieces

1/2 cup corn oil

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp honey


Place chilies in small saucepan. Add enough water just to cover. Simmer over med-low heat until chilies are soft and most of water evaporates, about 15 mins. Add chili mixture, roasted garlic cloves, oil, cumin and honey to a food processor. Purée until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made one week ahead. Cover and chill.)

Remove neck and giblets from turkey. Pat turkey dry. Season with salt and pepper, inside and out. Slide hand under skin of turkey breast to loosen skin. Spread 1/2 cup of garlic-chili paste over the breast under the skin. Rub 2 Tbs paste all over the outside of turkey. Reserve remaining paste to make gravy.

Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Place the turkey in a large pan with a rack, pour in 2 cups of chicken broth. Roast turkey for 1 1/2 hours. Tent turkey and entire pan loosely with heavy-duty foil. Baste with broth if desired. Continue to roast turkey until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 180 degrees. Place turkey on a platter, tent with foil and let stand at least 30 minutes before serving.


Yield: 8-10 portions

Cornbread (9 x 9) – made or purchased

One stick butter

2 cups chopped yellow onion

2 cups chopped red bell peppers

5 large poblano chilies, stemmed,

  seeded, chopped

4 large jalapeño chilies, stemmed,

  seeded, chopped

1/4 cup fresh sage or 4 tsps dried sage

1 3/4 Tbs dried oregano

3/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro

1 1/2 cups crushed corn chips (i.e.   


2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed

3 large eggs, beaten to blend

1 1/2 cups canned cream-style corn


Cut cornbread into bite size chunks or crumble onto a sheet pan, allow to dry out.

Melt butter in heavy, large skillet on med-high heat. Add onions, peppers, all chilies, sage and oregano and saute until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to large bowl with the cornbread. Mix in cilantro, corn chips and corn kernels. Season with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Mix the eggs and cream-style corn into the stuffing and transfer to the prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil and bake 45 minutes, uncover and bake until beginning to brown, about 20 more minutes.