NATIVE FLAVORS: Talking Turkey & Turkey Tapas Pies with Bird Peppers

Aunt Linda here talking turkey on this soft, surprising, rainy, June morning.  For me, turkeys are magic. They may not be very bright, but there are many times when smarts may be over rated. On this rainy morning, where the dust of life and the desert is washed clean, I choose heart and magic over brains.


The heirloom turkey chick in the photo above is about two hours out of the shell; you can still see it’s “egg tooth” (the hard and temporary tooth that helps it peck its way through the shell and “out” into Life prominent on the tip of it’s beak.)

All domesticated turkeys, (like the hatchling above) come from wild turkeys indigenous to North and South America,

Turkey’s have run wild on this continent for centuries. There are campaigns afoot to re-wild them again, The Gould’s Wild Turkey was re-intorduces to the Sky Islands, here in Arizona, in 2013 – and appear to be thriving. Gould’s Wild Turkey (M.g. mexicana) (Gould, 1856) have long legs, large feet, long tail feathers; it’s primary coloring is copper and greenish gold.  The south Mexican wild turkey (M.g. gallopavo) is not found in the US or Canada.  Archeological sites in central Mexico, dating back to 800-100 BC reveal M. gallopavo bones, but whether these were domestic or wild is not clear.


On a trip to New Mexico last summer,  I came across the ruins of the ancient Village of Tyuonyo (QU-weh-nee); (see photo above)  where rooms were built to shelter turkeys. There, archeological records tell us that Turkeys were raised primarily for their feathers – which were twisted with yucca fiber and woven into blankets, socks, and clothing. This would make sense for COLD winters in the high worlds of the  pinon-juniper of northern New Mexico.


When raising a new-to-me breed, I never make a move without consulting the Livestock Breeds Conservancy. A trip to their website alone is an adventure! It is filled with nutrition information etc ,,, (heritage breeds have requirements that differ from conventional breeds).   I highly encourage you  to find out more at

I love the way they move. I love the way they sound.  I love how protective the Toms (the males) can be  when they “sound the alarm” upon hearing something (bobcat,  hawk, or human) enter the yard). Toms, in all honestly, can become quite aggressive as they come of age, so be careful if you decide to raise them and you also have small children.  I love the THUMP the males make as they strut. I love the way a warm, just laid turkey egg feel in my hand.  I love how the hens will brood over any number of eggs.. Whether you raise turkeys for meat or eggs or just plain fun, I encourage you check out an heirloom breed and consult the


RECIPE: Magic turkey Tapas – Pies  – with bird pepper goat cheese. The Magic of these little Tapas-Pies is that they are made from two significant indigenous Ingredients.  The native bird of the America’s, the turkey. And: native chiltepin/bird peppers (humans have been eating for about 9000 years.) Chilpetin is considered the closest living relative to the oldest known chile.

NOTE: if you think you want to try the goat yogurt chiltpein cheese, make it 24 hours ahead. (See January 2014 for recipe)

*To start. preheat the oven to 350 and thaw 24 Mini FIllo Shells (of course if you are a purest, by all means make your own)


-half a medium red onion (finely chopped)

-two toes of garlic (finely chopped)

-16 oz of ground turkey

-6-10 crushed chiltepin (or any red chile you like)

-a handful of oregano from the garden

-one bunch of asparagus (steamed or roasted)

-chileptin goat cheese (make from full fat. 12 oz yogurt, with two tablespoons of chunky salt)


saute the onion, garlic,


then add turkey, ground chile – cook thoroughly — add oregano and asparagus.


Fill the Fillo Shells

IMG_6440 IMG_6443

Bake at 350 until golden brown – baking time will depend on the oven – mine took about half an hour


I could not believe how flavorful these little turkey are! ENJOY!!!!

A chile cheese review:

Place one 12 oz., full fat goat yogurt into a towel, in a colander, over a bow, (so whey can drip out)

Add two tablespoons coarse sea salt and chitepin to taste.

Mix thoroughly.

Tie up cloth.

Untie 24 hours later.

Refrigerate after opening.

You can also let it sit in the fridge while you are letting it transform from yogurt to infused cheese.



IMG_6426 IMG_6431

One thought on “NATIVE FLAVORS: Talking Turkey & Turkey Tapas Pies with Bird Peppers

  1. Hi Aun Linda – I really enjoyed this blog post. Its so interesting that turkeys have been around for so long and that traditionally were raised for their feathers for warmth. Also that heritage breeds have such different nutritional needs(!) As always, your accompanying amazing photos enrich the reading experience so much. Thanks!


Leave a Reply to kathisan Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.