Herb-Scented Roast Turkey from Nereto

Tacchino alla Porchetta (Herb-Scented Roast Turkey from Nereto)

Dave DeWitt Cooking with Chiles, Cooking with Chiles at the Holidays Leave a Comment

This is turkey as it is served on Saint Martin’s Day, November 11, in Nereto. Carol Field advises: “Do not use a light hand with the rosemary or garlic.” I skipped the part about cutting the turkey in half and it didn’t seem to make any difference. I didn’t stuff the turkey with my usual cornbread-green chile mixture because I wanted it to be as traditional as possible. That said, I did add some spicy smoked paprika to add a little heat because I’m a capsaicin addict.

turkey tamales

Mayan Turkey Tamales

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This recipe is from the Legacy Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Center for Archaeological Research.


4 cups turkey broth
6 2/3 cups masa harina
1/3 cup solid turkey fat
6 2/3 cup shredded cooked turkey
1 teaspoon achiote
Salt, to taste
1 cup tomato, chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 sprigs of epazote (optional)
Habanero chile, to taste, minced

Corn husks, soaked for an hour in hot water to soften


Boil the broth with 1/2 teaspoon achiote, a dash of salt, and a little bit of the masa harina for thickening. This broth will moisten the tamales. For the tamale dough, mix the masa with the turkey fat, salt, and achiote. Put some of this corn dough on top of a corn husk and flatten it out. Mound on top of the dough a scant 1/3-cup of turkey, and bathe the meat with a spoonful of broth. Alternate layers of onion, tomato, chile, and epazote, and bathe with a bit more broth.

Using the edges of the corn husk to help you, wrap the dough around the filling and seal it. Tie the corn husk into a tight packet, using thin strips of husks for string on either end. Repeat until you have the desired number of tamales. To cook, place the tamales in a steamer unit over a pot of simmering water. Cook until cooked through – about 15 minutes.

Smoked Turkey Basted with Cascabel Oil

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This simple dish yields a complex taste. Serve the turkey hot with the chile oil and a salsa on the side, or cold on a bolillo roll. You can substitute anchos or pasillas for the cascabels.


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 6 cascabel chiles, stems and seeds removed, crushed

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 10-pound turkey


Heat the oil and saute the chiles and garlic until softened. Remove from the heat and add the oregano, salt, and pepper.

Split the turkey in half by cutting in through the breast and backbone. Brush the chile oil over the turkey and marinate for a couple of hours at room temperature.

Place the turkey sections, breast side up, on a grill in a smoker and smoke with indirect heat over an aromatic wood such as pecan, apple, or hickory. Baste the turkey with the oil every half hour until the turkey sections are done, approximately 4 hours.

Roasted Turkey w/ Green Chile Pinon Dressing

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This dressing is best when baked in the turkey. For safety sake, only stuff the bird right before putting it in the oven. Adjust the heat of the turkey by the amount of, and type of red chile you use to rub on the skin.. Serve with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, gravy, and habanero spiced acorn squash. When making the gravy, add some minced chipotle chiles and the adobo sauce they were canned in for a spiced version of turkey gravy.


  • 1/4 cup butter

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1 cup chopped celery

  • 1 cup chopped green New Mexico chile, which has been roasted and peeled

  • 6 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread

  • 1 cup whole pinon nuts, or substitute chopped walnuts

  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

  • 2 tablespoons ground red New Mexican chile

  • 1 10 to 12- pound turkey


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a saucepan over medium high heat, melt the butter and saute the onion and celery until soft.

Combine the chile, onion mixture, cornbread, nuts and thyme in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Add enough of the broth to thoroughly moisten, but not saturate, the mixture.

Stuff the turkey cavity and sew it shut. Place any remaining dressing in a pan, and cook in the oven along with the turkey. Rub the chile powder over the outside of the bird.

Roast the turkey for 20 minutes per pound, basting frequently with the pan juices, until done.