RECIPE: Pavo (Chile-Rubbed Turkey)

Updated: Jan 14

Kick up the heat this Thanksgiving with this simple pavo, a fine centerpiece to a Mexican-inspired feast. —INGRAIN, Fall/Winter 2019



In Central and South America, turkeys (native to the area) are often rubbed with a homemade dried chile pepper paste before being roasted. Pasillas are one of the more approachable dried chiles but use whatever chiles suit your own holiday crew’s heat index. Unless you’re cooking multiple birds, you’ll likely need only half the rub. Tuck any leftover spice paste in the freezer until summer; it’s great on grilled chicken, pork, and potatoes.


Serves 10 to 12


1 14 to 16 pound turkey

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 12-ounce bottles Mexican-style lager

2 medium onions

1 head and 6 cloves garlic

1 medium onion

1 large orange

2 bay leaves

Handful fresh sage

4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

3 ounces (6 to 8 medium) pasilla chiles

⅓ cup orange juice

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar (packed)

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon oregano (Mexican)

1½ tablespoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper


RINSE

1 turkey (14 to 16 pounds, thawed) well, pat dry with paper towels, and place on a fridge-friendly rimmed baking sheet or similar baking pan. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon kosher salt (more to taste) inside cavity and rub half of chile paste all over bird, inside and out. Cover turkey with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours (flip bird over halfway through curing time).


POUR

2 12-ounce bottles Mexican-style lager into a large roasting pan. Distribute 2 medium onions (sliced) + 1 head garlic (cloves only, unpeeled) on bottom of pan. Lightly pat turkey dry (discard excess marinade) and stuff cavity with 1 medium onion (quartered) + 1 large orange (quartered) + 2 bay leaves + handful fresh sage leaves. Place turkey breast side up in roasting pan and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting.


PREHEAT

Oven to 450°F. Rub 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter (softened) over top and sides of turkey. Roast for 30 minutes, lower heat to 350°F, and remove roasting pan from oven. Baste breast with pan juices, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and continue roasting (basting with pan juices occasionally) until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a thigh registers 165°F, about 2 to 2½ hours.


LET

Turkey rest for about 30 minutes (do not remove foil) and transfer to a cutting board. Strain turkey stock on bottom of roasting pan and discard fat or save for gravy. Carve turkey and serve with stock. (If stock is too salty, thin with 1 to 2 cups chicken broth.)


CHILE PASTE

Toast 3 ounces (6 to 8 medium) pasilla chiles, a few at a time, in a cast-iron skillet over high heat until skin begins to darken, about 30 seconds on each side. Remove stems and seeds, and place chiles in a blender with ¾ cup boiling water. Set aside until softened, about 15 minutes. Transfer chiles + soaking liquid to a blender with 6 large garlic cloves + ⅓ cup orange juice + ¼ cup olive oil + 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar + 2 tablespoons brown sugar (packed) + 1 tablespoon cumin seeds + 1 tablespoon oregano (Mexican) + 1½ tablespoons kosher salt + 2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper (or to taste) and purée until smooth. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze. Makes about 2 cups


Grocery List: Pavo


For pairing tips, check out our Holiday Beer & Food Pairings guide.