Give Thanks: A Cowboy-inspired Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving. It’s the one holiday that’s managed to escape the mania. Yes – there’s still Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but before all the madness begins, there’s time to savor some quiet time with loved ones and to think about the things that really count. Let this Thanksgiving season be a time to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going. Whether you’re getting ready for a feast on the open range or looking forward to a cozier cabin-like gathering, invite the Cowboy spirit into your heart this year.  

So, break out your best cowboy hat and cowboy boots and let’s talk turkey. Here, we’ve rounded up some juicy ideas for some different ways to prepare and cook that big bird.

Brine it. A brine is a basic solution of water and salt and it coaxes a bit more moisture and flavor into the turkey. All Recipes has a surefire recipe to ensure its moist and delicious. 

Rub it: When you add a mix of spices, you can kick up that flavor a notch. Combine some of your favorites like cumin, smoked paprika, and coriander. serves up five delicious choices.

Grill it: Take to the great outdoors and BBQ that bird. It takes the heat out of the kitchen and frees up some space so you can focus on those all-important sides and pies.

Smoke it. Slow down a little and you’ll be sure to get some seriously tender meat. A regular grill or smoker will do the trick. Bobby Flay has some tips on how to smoke a whole turkey.

Fry it: This method serves up the crispiest skin and some of the tastiest meat, just make sure you do it safely. Always fry outside! Here are five turkey frying safety tips to keep in mind.

Sassy Sides

We know – everyone has a favorite side that shows up every year – whether it’s grandma’s green bean casserole or an uncle’s mashed taters and gravy, try adding something new into the mix this year. While the turkey is typically the star of the show, it’s those scrumptious side dishes that really make your meal shine. Here’s a new twist on an old favorite that’s sure to make your family and friends give thanks …

Southwest Mac and Cheese

Serves 4-6

• 16 ounces twisty pasta

• 4 strips uncooked bacon

• ¼ cup chopped green chiles

• 3-4 ounces heavy whipping cream

• 8 ounces smoked Gouda cheese, grated 

• salt and pepper

• 1/8 cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, thyme, etc.)

• 3-4 teaspoons panko


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of water at a rolling boil until al dente.
  3. Cook the bacon on a sheet pan in the oven, reserving the fat. 
  4. In a large pot over medium heat, combine the bacon fat and chiles and sauté until the chiles lose their crispness. Add the cream and slowly whisk in the cheese. When combined, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside. 
  5. In a colander, rinse the pasta in cold water and drain well. Place the pasta in an oven-safe casserole dish, add the sauce and herbs, and mix well. Adjust the seasonings, sprinkle with the panko, and finish by browning for 15 to 20 minutes in the hot oven.

Recipe credited to The New Mexico Farm to Table Cookbook: 100 Homegrown Recipes from the Land of Enchantment (Countryman Press, 2015).

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