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Turkey loco.

"Crazy turkey" is the centerpiece of this Mexican-inspired Thanksgiving fiesta.

The turkey takes its shape and seasonings from a popular Mexican technique for barbecued chicken. Split through the backbone and laid flat, the butterflied bird cooks quickly and browns all over. A Los Angeles restaurant chain that specializes in this kind of chicken named itself Pollo Loco--"crazy chicken." We call our thanksgiving bird "Turkey loco."

Stuffing, which no Thanksgiving dinner can do without, goes not inside the bird but into mild chilies (or pimientos or bell peppers).

Following the flavor accents of Mexico, the tart, fresh cranberry relish becomes a salsa with the addition of cilantro and chilies; the slightly sugared sweet potatoes are sparked with lime and tequila; and onions roast dark and mellow in a piquant marinade. Humble and often ignored, canned hominy (similar in taste to the Mexican corn preparation, nixtamal) is an ideal neutral element in this menu. For bread, serve warm corn tortillas to butter.

As refreshing before-dinner antojitos, orange wedges, pineapple chunks, and jicama sticks--typical Mexican street snacks--are offered with a red chili salt. And there are peanuts to nibble.

For dessert, consider the pumpkin creme brulee on page 114, with its smooth custard base and crisp sugar crust.

Every dish in this meal for 16 has steps that can be done ahead. Antojitos Tray Spanish Peanuts Turkey Loco Stuffed Chilies Cranberry Salsa Sweet Potatoes with Tequila and Line Roasted Onions Buttered Hominy Warm Corn Tortillas Pumpkin Creme Brulee Sauvignon Blanc Zinfandel Fresh Limeade

A day ahead, you can assemble the antojito tray, butterfly the turkey, get the stuffed chilies ready to bake, make the cranberry salsa, cook the sweet potatoes (reheat them later to serve), and marinate the onions. The chilies and onions cook at the same temperature; put chilies on an upper oven rack, onions on a lower.

Hominy and tortillas need only to be briefly warmed before serving.

Serve white and red wine, or beer. Or offer mineral water or fresh limeade. Antojitos Tray

Cut 3 large unpeeled oranges into 8 wedges each. Cut 1 medium-size (about 4 1b.) ripe, unpeeled pineapple crosswise into 1/2-inch slices; remove core and cut each slice into quarters. Scrub and peel 1-1/2 pounds jicama; cut into 1/4-by 1/4-by 3-inch sticks. Coat fruit and jicama with lime juice; you need about 1/2 cup juice.

Mix 1/4 cup salt with 1 tablespoon paprika and 1 teaspoon cayenne or chili powder. Arrange on a tray to serve; dip foods in salt. Accompany with additional lime wedges to squeeze over foods if desired. If made ahead, cover with plastic wrap and chill as long as 1 day. Serves 10 to 16. Turkey Loco 1 turkey (10 to 12 lb.; thaw if frozen) About 4 limes, cut into halves About 4 teaspoons dry oregano leaves Salt and pepper

Have you meatman saw through the length of the turkey's backbone; or, at home, use spring-loaded poultry shears and cut just along the bone--or use a heavy knife and hit with a flat mallet.

Lay turkey on its breast and pull it open from the back, pushing down to flatten; some ribs will crack. Discard fat lumps. If done ahead, cover and chill as long as overnight.

Ignite 50 charcoal briquets on the fire grate of a barbecue (at least 21-in. diameter) with lid. When coals are just covered with gray askh, push half the coals to each side of the grate and set a 9- by 13-inch drip pan in the center. Position barbecue grill 6 to 8 inches above the fire grate. Lay spread-open bird, breast up, on grill over drip pan. Squeeze and rub 1 or 2 lime halves over turkey; sprinkle with oregano and lightly with salt and pepper.

Cover barbecue and open dampers. Every 1/2 hour, squeeze and rub 1 or 2 more lime halves onto turkey and add 5 or 6 briquets to each side of the coals to maintain constant temperature. Cook turkey until thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast (not touching bone) registers 170 [deg.], 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Transfer turkey to a platter. To carve, cut off wings and slice breat. Cut off legs and slice meat from thights. Serves 16. Stuffed Chilies 16 fresh green or red Anaheim (California) or ancho (poblano) chilies (2 to 2-1/4 lb.) or 16 fresh small pimientos or small green, red, or yellow bell peppers Chorizo stuffing (recipe follows)

Leave stems on chilies, pimientos, or peppers; slit each lengthwise. Pull out seeds and ribs. Fill chilies equally with chorizo stuffing; place, side by side and stuffed side up, in a 10- by 15-inch rimmed pan. (If made ahead, cover and chill as long as overnight).

Bake, uncovered, in upper third of a 400 [deg.] oven until chilies are soft and light brown, about 25 minutes. Set on a platter. Makes 16 servings.

Chorizo stuffing. Strip casing from 3/4 pound chorizo sausage, or use 3/4 pound bulk pork sausage. Put meat in a 12- to 14-inch frying pan on medium-high heat with 1 large clove garlic, minced; 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin; and 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano leaves. Crumble meat and stir often until browned, about 10 minutes.

Trim root ends and coarse stems from 2 pounds spinach; wash, drain, and coarsely chop. rinse and finely chop 1/2 pound mushrooms. add to meat and cook on high heat until liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2 cups soft bread crumbs, 3/4 cup shredded jack cheese, and 1 egg. Mix well; add salt lto taste. If made ahead, cover and chill mixture as long as overnight before stuffing the chilies. Cranberry Salsa 2 cups cranberries 4 teaspoons grated orange peel 2 large oranges, peeled with a knife to remove white membrane, then coarsely chopped 1/4 cup each minced onion and salad oil 1 tablespoon each minced cilantro and minced fresh ginger 1 fresh small hot green (jalapeno or serrano) chili, stemmed, seeded, and minced Salt

Whirl cranberries in a food processor or blender until chopped; empty into a bowl. Add orange peel, chopped orange (drained), onion, oil, cilantro, ginger, and chili. Blend sauce; add salt to taste. Serve, or cover and chill as long as overnight. Makes about 3 cups, or 16 servings. Sweet Potatoes with Tequila and Line 1-1/2 cups (3/4 lb.) butter or margarine 4 pounds sweet potatoes or yams 1/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup tequila, optional 2 tablespoons lime juice Salt and pepper Lime wedges or havles

Put a metal baking pan (about 12 by 17 in.) on two burners over medium heat; add butter and stir until melted. Set aside. Peel and shred potatoes with a food processor or with the coarse holes of a grater. At once, mix with butter in pan, then sprinkle with sugar. On medium heat over the two burners, cook, uncovered, until potatoes begin to caramelize and look slightly translucent, about 15 minutes; turn occasionally with a wide spatula (take care not to mash or break up sheads).

Stir in tequila and lime juice. Cook, stirring, about 3 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If made ahead, cover and chill as long as overnight; 15 minutes before serving, return covered pan to two burners on medium-low heat to warm; stir occasionally.

Pour sweet potatoes into a bowl; garnish with lime wedges. Makes 16 servings. Roasted Onions 1-1/2 cups water 1 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar 4 teaspoons firmly packed brown sugar About 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 8 medium-size onions

Blend water, vinegar, and sugar; add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Pour equally into 2 baking pans (each 9 by 13 in.). Cut onions lengthwise in half through skins; place, cut side down, in vinegar mixture. (If made ahead, cover and chill up to overnight.)

Bake, uncovered, in the lower third of a 400 [deg.] over until onions give readily when gently squeezed, most liquid has evaporated, and cut sides of onions are glazed--1 to 1-1/4 hours. Arrange, cut side up, on a platter. Add salt to taste. Serves 16. Buttered Hominy 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine 5 cans (14-1/2 oz. each) golden and/or white hominy, drained Salt and pepper

In a 12- to 14-inch pan, melt butter over high heat. Add hominy and stir, uncovered, until hot, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve. Makes 16 servings. Warm Corn Tortillas

Unwrap and stack 3 dozen corn tortillas. Wrap stack airtight in foil. Place in a 400 [deg.] oven until heated through, about 20 minutes. Wrap in a towel to keep warm and serve from a basket. Offter butter or margarine to spread on hot tortillas. Makes 16 servings.
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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Nov 1, 1984
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