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Ancho Chile Gravy

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Each family has their own traditions and list of essential dishes for their turkey feast but I’m pretty sure gravy is always included. Maybe not ancho chile gravy but some kind of gravy…and probably plenty of it.

Masa Harina for Thickening Ancho Chile Gravy

Gravy is often thickened using wheat flour or cornstarch but this recipe uses masa harina. Sometimes simply referred to as masa, this corn flour is naturally gluten free and is used to make soft, fresh corn tortillas. It is available in Latin American markets or anywhere you buy Mexican ingredients. Once you have some you will want to try making fresh corn tortillas with it.

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Chiles for Ancho Chile Gravy

The cuisine of the American southwest uses a variety of chiles and in this menu they are highlighted in the ancho chile gravy plus they are used in the Cornbread Chorizo Stuffing and the Cranberry Orange and Cilantro Salsa so a little chile knowledge is required.

Turkey slices with a generous ladle of ancho chile gravy.
Ancho Chile Gravy with turkey and all the fixins -photo credit Jim Little

Producers continue to grow new and unusual chiles and grocers continue to offer an ever increasing variety of choice. Chiles are sold both dried and fresh each having their own unique taste and amount of heat. Generally the bigger the chile the less heat it has. This unique gravy uses mild ancho and poblano chiles that are packed with flavour, not heat.

We all know that when grapes are dried we call them raisins. But then when cranberries or apricots are dried they are simply referred to as dried cranberries or dried apricots. I don’t know who is in charge of this naming system but it isn’t me. To make it easier to remember when talking about dried and fresh chiles I simply write fresh poblano chile or dried ancho chile in my recipes.

I finally know what the ancho and poblano chiles look like but for many years I did a quick check on Google images before my trip to the grocery store, just to make sure I knew what I was looking for.  Despite the amazing variety in the produce section the signs are sometimes missing and may be incorrect.

Fresh and Dried Chiles for Ancho Chile Gravy

Fresh chiles are often charred, then steamed and peeled to impart a wonderful, smoky flavour to dishes they are used in. For my Turkey Feast this is how the poblano chiles are prepared. Dried chiles can also be blackened in a hot, non-stick pan on the stove. They are then soaked and both the chile and the soaking liquid can be used.

The Tools

My best tip for gravy making is to get a gravy separator, it makes the job easier. Since I only use it at this time of year I store it inside my turkey roaster along with the instructions that I cut from the packaging. Maybe you think it’s intuitive to use but I didn’t.

I hope this information is brief enough to encourage you to give this ancho chile gravy recipe a try. It is always a big hit so the recipe makes what I think is a generous portion but in my house, there is always turkey leftover after the gravy.

In the comments below I’d love to hear some gravy stories from your house.


2 fresh poblano chiles
2 dried ancho chiles
½ cup soaking liquid
¼ cup masa harina
1-2 cups GF chicken stock if needed
salt and pepper to taste


Blacken ancho chile in heavy skillet over high heat until the colour darkens slightly and become fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer ancho chile to medium bowl. Add enough boiling water to cover chiles. Let stand until softened, about 20 minutes. Remove from liquid and pull chile away from stem, cut into large pieces. Reserve ½ cup soaking liquid.
Blacken poblano chiles over a gas flame or under a broiler until blackened on all sides. Place in a plastic bag and let steam for 10 minutes. Remove from bag, peel and seed chile. Cut chile into large pieces.
Place ancho and poblano chiles with soaking liquid in a bowl and puree. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared up to this point 1 day in advance.)
Spoon off some of the fat from the turkey pan juices. Set roasting pan over 2 burners set on medium low heat. Add additional broth if needed to measure 3 cups.
Sprinkle masa harina over the pan juices. Whisk until mixture resembles a paste, scraping up any brown bits, about 2 minutes.
Add chile puree and simmer about 5 minutes to blend flavours. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with turkey and stuffing.


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