The Chile Trail Thanksgiving Survival Guide: 6 Tips for a Less-Stress Thanksgiving

You’ve tried everything.

1. You’ve brined it. You’ve deep-fried it. You’ve even tried (and failed) the infamous turkducken. So this year I want you to repeat after me, “It’s just a super-sized chicken. It’s just a super-sized chicken…”. Give it a chile spice rub, slather it in butter and wack it in the oven. Set the timer, watch the parade, and chill. Okay?

If you’re still not satisfied, try Turkey Mole on for size. We’ve adapted a recipe from Chef Douglas Rodriguez and our own John Vollerston from Las Cosas Cooking School here in Santa Fe. They have reduced the time and preparation by creating a mole-inspired dry rub you can massage into ole Tom before he hits the oven. Hint: Make a double batch of the rub-it’s addictive-then use it to season Chicken and Pork.

Mole Rub
(Makes about 11/3 cups)

¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup salt
2 tbsp sesame seeds toasted
2 tbsp corn Masa (available in the flour section of most grocery stores)
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp ground mild New Mexican red chile powder
1 tbsp Ancho chile powder
1 tbsp Chipotle chile powder
1 tsp ground Ginger
1 tsp ground star anise
1 tsp toasted and ground cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground allspice
1½ tsp toasted and ground coriander seeds
½ tsp Mexican Oregano

Mix together all the ingredients. Use at once or store in an airtight jar at room temperature for up to 3 months. For the Turkey1 (18-20-pound) turkey; neck, heart, and gizzard removed 5 ½ cups chicken stock 2 tbsp vegetable oil.
Place thawed turkey on rack set in large roasting pan; tuck wings under. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon mole rub in main cavity of turkey and ½ cup spice mixture all over and under turkey skin; tie legs together to hold shape. Refrigerate uncovered overnight. Let turkey stand 1 hour at room temperature. Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 450º. Brush turkey with vegetable oil and sprinkle with an additional ¼ cup of the mole rub. Pour 1½ cups chicken stock into pan with turkey. Reduce heat to 350º; place pan in oven and roast turkey 2 hours. Add 2 cups broth to pan; roast 1 hour. Pour 2 cups broth over turkey; cover turkey loosely with foil. Continue roasting until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175º, about 1 hour longer. Transfer turkey to platter, tent loosely with foil and kitchen towel, and let stand 30 minutes (internal temperature of turkey will rise 5 to 10 degrees). Skim fat from the pan reserving juices. Carve and serve with mole broth that is left in the pan after skimming. Enjoy!

2. While you’re giving that bad-boy-bird a spice rub with one hand, make a bloody mary with the other. Make it easy with Los C’s mix (hide the packet and say you made it yourself. We won’t tell). If you want to get all Martha Stewart, then wet the rim of your glass and dip it in a mixture of kosher salt and chile powder. Won’t you be popular!

3. Everything at Thanksgiving tastes better with chile. That includes mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and candied yams. We’ve even tossed a pinch in the ‘ole pumpkin pie when grandma wasn’t watching. Cranberry sauce? Maybe not. But come to think of it…

Red Chile Scalloped Potatoes
Serves 6-8

3 medium potatoes, washed, peeled and sliced very thin
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon hot New Mexico red chile powder
1/4 cup mild New Mexico red chile powder
1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoon salt, freshly ground pepper

Spread potatoes on paper towels and dry well. In a medium bowl, whisk together yolks, cream, milk, sour cream, cheese, red chiles, cumin, and salt. Butter a 4 qt. casserole dish. Place potatoes in a large bowl and pour milk/cream mixture over them. Stir to completely coat potatoes. Place potatoes in casserole dish and crack fresh ground pepper over potatoes. Cover and bake at 400º for 30 minutes, uncover and continue baking until potatoes are tender and casserole is bubbling and nicely browned, about 20 minutes.

4. You made it through the Thanksgiving meal. You’ve ingested 3,500 calories. Now you’re hanging out watching a bowl game and you realize – OH NO! – I haven’t eaten in at least 20 minutes. Don’t panic! Have a batch (or 2) of these on hand when you get those post-turkey munchies.

Sweet & Spicy Pecans
Makes 2 cups

2 cups pecan halves
2 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp chipotle powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp rosemary, finely chopped

Toast the pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toss them gently so they’re lightly browned but make sure they don’t burn. Remove the pecans from the pan. Add the butter and melt, then stir in the remaining ingredients. When the sugar has dissolved, add the pecans back to the pan. Stir for a few minutes until the pecans are well-coated. Remove from the pan and place them on a sheet of parchment paper. Separate the nuts with a fork (no fingers – they’re very hot!) and allow to cool until the sugar mixture has hardened onto the pecans.

5. Leftovers. You knew it was going to happen. Whip up some Turkey Enchiladas and feel the turkey glow.

6. If all else fails, forget the turkey. Order a pizza and top it with some green chile. Go on. You know you want to.

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