Turkey Dark Meat in Cranberry and Ancho Chile Sauce

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

Suggested Use:
Anchos are great in salsa, soups, enchilada and any sauce needing mild heat and chile flavor. Chopped, pureed or ground, they can be added directly to your recipes.

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2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 each turkey thighs, drumsticks, and wings
8 cups water
6 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 large tomatoes, quartered
1-1/2 cups walnuts
16 oz. can whole-cranberry sauce
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh-ground pepper


In 5 quart pot, heat the olive oil until hot, then brown the thighs, drumsticks, and wings a few pieces at a time. When they are all well browned, add the water and cover. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. Remove the turkey pieces from the liquid and reserve.

Add the chiles, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and walnuts to the liquid and return to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chiles are soft.

In batches, puree the mixture in a blender. Let the mixture cool before blending, or leave the blender top open a crack to allow any steam to escape. Return the puree to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the cranberry sauce. Mix well and add the seasonings. Adjust to taste and if the sauce is too thin, boil to reduce it down some more.

Return the turkey pieces to the sauce and allow them to simmer covered over very low heat for approximately 60 minutes.

Serve the turkey on a platter with some of the sauce. Place the remaining sauce on the side. This dish may be made ahead and reheated. Serves 4-6 people.

Recipe from the November 1991 issue of Texas Monthly.