Have a Happy New Mexico Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is Americans’ only national religious holiday. A good many of us ignore the religious aspect, however, and concentrate on the culinary, social and familial—the gathering of the clan, perhaps at Grandma’s but always around a dinner table, and usually the table has upon it a turkey with all the fixings.

New Mexicans are no exception, enjoying their turkey with the best of them, but the fixings are likely to include red or green chili. Today’s turkeys are at best rather bland, but a little chili in the stuffing or the mashed potatoes helps to zip things up. Some New Mexicans speak of making tamale stuffing. Blue corn, more of the state’s unique culinary heritage, also appears on some Thanksgiving tables.

Some New Mexicans prefer a something different in their Thanksgiving bird: a heritage turkey from the Pollo Real farm near Socorro. There, Tom Delehanty and Tracey Hamilton became the first breeders of “heritage turkeys,” long-recognized American breed,s like Spanish Black and Standard Bronze, that have but all but displaced by the heavy-breasted commercial turkeys available at your supermarket. Pollo Real is organic and its birds are free-range and the products of natural mating. The deep flavor and savor of their meat are a wonderful surprise to those who have tried it.

As for non-culinary traditions, some Albuquerqueans anticipate the long sit by participating in the Thanksgiving-morning Turkey Trek. Held in the city’s Old Town, it includes a 5-K walk or run for adults and a 1-K fun run for children. Or take a daytime drive up the beautiful Turquoise Trail, State Route 14, up the back side of the Sandias from Tijeras to just south of Santa Fe.

Post-Thanksgiving, you could plan a drive up to Santa Fe, where the Winter Indian Market opens at Marcy Street on the weekend after the holiday. You might also enjoy an early outing at the River of Lights, Albuquerque’s annual festival put on by the city’s botanical gardens, which opens on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

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