Editor’s Note:  You may not find the recipes that follow on the menus at the Arizona Inn, El Tovar Dining Room, Arizona Steakhouse at Bright Angel Lodge, JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn, or LON’s at The Hermosa Inn. Rather,  they’re from the personal collections of the chefs at the helms of those iconic institutions. Some are rooted in childhood memories. Others are modern spins on holiday classics. All of them are inarguably delicious.

Photograph by Steven Meckler
Photograph by Steven Meckler

Arizona Inn


Aron Fonte-Grushka started cooking in high school. Now, several decades later, he’s the executive chef at the Arizona Inn. Still, some of his favorite holiday memories originated during his childhood. “As a kid, I think some of my favorite holiday food memories relate to the preparation of everything,” he says. “Whether it was watching my uncle grill a whole turkey, my dad making pumpkin pie, helping my grandmother make her gravy or decorating cookies with my mom and cousins, I always loved the buildup and anticipation for the day to actually arrive. These days, my favorite parts of the holidays are, after all the craziness is said and done, getting together with my parents for our traditional meatball and pasta dinner with my mom’s tomato sauce and caramel-iced cupcakes. At the end of the day, being with your family, your friends, your people — that’s what it’s all about.” 

Chipotle Roasted Sweet Potatoes


  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 whole canned chipotle pepper
  • in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
  • from canned chipotles
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Salt, to taste


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Poke the sweet potatoes with a fork, then toss with the olive oil. Place the sweet potatoes on a foil-lined pan and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until they are tender enough to insert the handle of a small spoon into a potato with little resistance.
  • Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle (use a kitchen towel to help hold them), peel them and purée them in a food processor with the remaining ingredients until completely smooth. Add salt to taste.
  • This dish can be made two days ahead of time. If preparing ahead of time, place purée in an oven-safe container and refrigerate. When ready to serve, cover and heat in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until hot.
  • Candied preparation (if desired): Once purée is hot, cover with miniature marshmallows, sprinkle with brown sugar and place back in the oven for 5 minutes or until the marshmallows have started to brown.
Photograph by Steven Meckler
Chili Colorado | Steven Meckler

Chili Colorado


  • 15 dry New Mexico chiles, stems removed,
  • seeded and washed
  • 3 cups water
  • 10 cloves peeled garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or bacon fat
  • 3 pounds boneless beef short rib or chuck flap,
  • cut into cubes
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt 
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 cups beef stock


  • Place the chiles in a medium-size sauce pot and cover with water. Heat on high until boiling, then cover and turn off heat. Let the chiles soak for 30 minutes to remove bitterness, then strain, rinse and place in a blender with the water and garlic cloves. Blend until smooth, pass through a fine mesh strainer to remove any remaining skins and seeds, and set aside.
  • In a large pot, heat olive oil or bacon fat over medium-high heat. Add cubed meat in batches (avoid overcrowding the pan) and sear until evenly browned. Repeat until all meat is seared and removed from the pan.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add the onion and sauté
  • until tender and translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add the chili powder, salt and pepper, and mix well. Add all the meat back into the pan.
  • Add chile purée and beef stock to the pot. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 3 hours, stirring frequently, until tender. Add salt to taste.
  • Note: Substituting chicken stock or water for the beef stock is acceptable for a less-rich result.

The Arizona Inn is located at 2200 E. Elm Street in Tucson. For more information, call 520-325-1541 or visit arizonainn.com.  


Photograph by Paul Markow
Photograph by Paul Markow

JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa


“There is nothing more special than when the family is brought together during the holiday season,” says Ana Panelli, who’s been the pastry chef at Camelback Inn for the past six years. “I was born and raised on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, and my culinary style has taken great inspiration from the passion of our people and the colorful nature of our culture. My first memories are of my family’s kitchen island, surrounded by my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. I began cooking and baking desserts for my family at a very young age, and from the love and support of my mother and family, my passion for pastry only grew.” Here, Panelli shares two traditional Puerto Rican recipes.

Photograph by Paul Markow
Coquito | Paul Markow



  • 1 can cream of coconut
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 10 ounces white or dark rum (optional)


  • Blend cream of coconut, evaporated milk, coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and cinnamon powder in a blender until well incorporated. If desired, mix in rum to taste, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Photograph by Paul Markow
Arroz con Dulce | Paul Markow

Arroz con Dulce


  • 2 cups short-grain rice
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 3 whole star anise fruits
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup raisins


  • Soak rice for 2 hours to soften.
  • Bring water, ginger, cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise and vanilla bean to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and save the spice infusion.
  • In a pot, combine spice infusion, coconut milk and pinch of salt, then bring to a boil. Strain and add the softened rice, then cook over low heat for
  • 15 minutes. Add evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, white granulated sugar, brown sugar and raisins. Mix thoroughly, cover and cook for another 15 minutes at low heat.
  • Serve in small bowls and garnish with a dash of powdered cinnamon and toasted coconut, if desired.

JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa is located at 5402 E. Lincoln Drive in Scottsdale. For more information, call 480-948-1700 or visit marriott.com


Photograph by John Burcham
Photograph by John Burcham

El Tovar Dining Room

South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park

Mark Otto, the executive sous chef at El Tovar, has lived at the Grand Canyon for 22 years. “People come from all over the world to see the magic of the Grand Canyon,” he says. “My goal is to enhance this once-in-a-lifetime adventure with a memorable dining experience in the beautiful El Tovar Dining Room. Holidays are a special time here at the Canyon, and I’d like to share my recipe for mesquite-smoked prime rib to enhance a traditional holiday meal with a taste of the great Southwest.”

Mesquite-Smoked Prime Rib With Herb Crust and Potato Pavé


For the beef:

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 boneless prime rib (14 to 16 pounds)

(This recipe also requires a smoker, 10 pounds of mesquite charcoal and 3 pounds of mesquite wood chips soaked in water.)

For the potato pavé:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon white pepper
  • 2½ pounds Yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • ¾ cup grated Asiago cheese


For the beef: 

  • Start the mesquite charcoal in the smoker. Bring the internal temperature to 250 degrees, then add the soaked wood chips. In a small bowl, mix the rosemary, thyme, garlic, pepper, salt and olive oil until it resembles a paste. Rub the paste evenly over the prime rib, then place the beef in the smoker. Cook at a consistent 250 degrees for approximately 4 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 125 degrees. 

For the potato pavé:

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a bowl, mix the heavy cream, garlic, salt and pepper. Spread the butter evenly around a baking dish to help prevent sticking. Shingle half of the potatoes evenly on the bottom of the baking dish. Pour half of the heavy cream mixture and both cheeses over the potatoes. Repeat the layering process with the remaining ingredients. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes to allow the tops of the potatoes to brown.
Photograph by John Burcham
Mesquite-Smoked Prime Rib With Herb Crust and Potato Pavé | John Burcham

El Tovar Dining Room is located in Grand Canyon Village, on the South Rim. For more information, call 928-638-2631 or visit grandcanyonlodges.com.


Photograph by John Burcham
Photograph by John Burcham

Bright Angel Lodge

South Rim
Grand Canyon National Park

Daniel Woods has played many roles over the course of his career — Marine, pilot and more. Now, in his role as chef at Bright Angel Lodge’s Arizona Steakhouse, he feels he’s really found his passion. “This year for Thanksgiving, in addition to traditional holiday favorites, we will be preparing rack of lamb with a peach chutney,” Woods says. “Peaches are indigenous to the Havasupai people, and I wanted to incorporate them with this traditional holiday dish.”

Photograph by John Burcham
Rack of Lamb With Peach Chutney and Wild Mushroom Risotto | John Burcham

Rack of Lamb With Peach Chutney and Wild Mushroom Risotto


For the rack of lamb: 

  • ½ tablespoon mustard seed
  • ½ cup Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • ⅛ teaspoon onion power 
  • 1  8-bone rack of lamb

For the peach chutney: 

  • 2 quarts peaches, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • 1½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
  • ¼ tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha
  • 2½ cups champagne vinegar

For the wild mushroom risotto:

  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small (8 ounces) white onion, diced
  • 16 ounces Arborio rice
  • 2 pounds wild mushroom mix 
  • ½ tablespoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic, minced


For the rack of lamb: 

  • Combine the mustard seed, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. Use a pastry brush to distribute the mixture evenly over the non-bone portion of the lamb. Allow to rest for 30 minutes in refrigerator while preheating the oven to 350 degrees. 
  • After the lamb rests, roast until the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees. Remove the rack and rest for 15 minutes prior to slicing into two-bone sections for serving. 

For the peach chutney: 

  • Combine all ingredients in a thick-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Hold hot for serving, or place in a Mason jar and boil in hot water for 10 minutes. Store in refrigerator.  

For the wild mushroom risotto: 

  • Bring stock to a simmer to help facilitate cooking and stirring time. In a separate pan, add oil and heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add rice, coating it in oil, and sauté until lightly toasted. 
  • Begin adding the stock, a half-cup at a time. Once all of the rice is incorporated, let simmer until tender. In a separate pan, sauté the mushroom blend, then add mushrooms and all remaining ingredients to the rice. Stir and serve. 

Bright Angel Lodge is located in Grand Canyon Village, on the South Rim. For more information, call 928-638-2631 or visit grandcanyonlodges.com.



Photograph by Paul Markow
Photograph by Paul Markow

LON’s at the Hermosa Inn

Paradise Valley

International cuisine informs chef Alejandro Martinez’s holiday menus. “The inspiration for these recipes lies between my childhood in Argentina and my time spent in Italy — 10 years,” he says. “It’s quite interesting, as it is summer during Christmas in Argentina, so the menu is very different from what you can normally find in the United States. I discovered how different families have different traditions depending on what part of the country they live in.” Here, Martinez shares two of his favorites.

Winter Squash Agnolotti


For the pasta:

  • 500 grams all-purpose flour
  • 4 fresh eggs
  • 80 grams egg yolks

For the filling:

  • 2 cups butternut or winter squash purée
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste

For the garnish:

  • 1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, whole
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups mixed mushrooms, cut
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
  • ½ cup Marcona almonds, crushed and roasted


  • Combine all pasta ingredients in a mixer with a hook and kneader until dough is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
  • Combine all filling ingredients and put in a piping bag, then refrigerate.
  • After refrigerating, roll pasta to the thickness of a folded birthday card. Place filling in a continuous line in the center of the pasta. Spray with water and fold the pasta over the filling, removing as much air as possible. Pinch with thumb and index finger about an inch apart through the entire folded pasta, creating little “pillows.” Cut excess pasta, and where it’s pinched, cut through. Dust pasta with flour to prevent sticking, then refrigerate. To cook, drop in boiling salted water for 90 seconds, then strain and reserve.
  • In an empty pan, roast tomatoes dry over high heat until semi-charred, then set aside. 
  • Put half of the butter in a pan to melt over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until tender and slightly golden brown. Combine with the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • In a separate pan, brown the other half of the butter over medium heat. Once the water content of the butter starts boiling and evaporates, the butter will start getting darker and smell like toasted hazelnuts; remove from the heat right away. Toss pasta with the browned butter and sage, plate the agnolotti in a bowl, top with the mushrooms and tomatoes, and sprinkle with the almonds.
Photograph by Paul Markow
Winter Squash Agnolotti | Paul Markow
Photograph by Paul Markow
Beef Tenderloin | Paul Markow

Beef Tenderloin


For the potato cake:

  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
  • ½ cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley and chives
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the mushrooms and roasted garlic:

  • 4 king oyster mushrooms
  • 2 whole garlic heads
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Blended oil (25 percent extra virgin olive oil and 75 percent canola or corn oil), enough to cover
  • For the beef and asparagus:
  • 4 tenderloin steaks (6 ounces each)
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Wash and boil potatoes in salted water until tender. Sauté onion and garlic in the oil until translucent, then reserve. Smash the potatoes, then combine with the sautéed onion and garlic and the chopped herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop and press into a cake form, then sear in a nonstick pan with a little oil. Reserve.
  • Split mushrooms in half and crisscross the cut sides. Cut the garlic heads two-thirds above the roots (the garlic head must remain whole, uncovering just a small part of the flesh). Preheat oven to 250 degrees, put the mushrooms and garlic heads in a small pot or pan, season with salt and pepper, and cover with oil. Cover the pot and bake for 1 hour or until the garlic is soft. Remove the mushrooms and garlic from the oil and reserve.
  • Preheat grill to high. Drizzle tenderloins and asparagus with oil and season to taste. Grill steaks for about 3 minutes per side or until they reach 115 degrees for medium rare. Grill asparagus until it has a nice char. Reserve.
  • To finish, sear the mushrooms and garlic with cut side down. Place the potato cake on a warm plate and top with a few asparagus stalks and the beef. To each plate, add half of a roasted garlic head and two halves of the mushrooms. 

LON’s at The Hermosa Inn is located at 5532 N. Palo Cristi Road in Paradise Valley. For more information, call 602-955-7878 or visit hermosainn.com.  


Best Recipes Cookbook by Arizona Highways
Best Recipes


For more culinary inspiration, pick up a copy of Arizona’s Best Recipes,
which features some of the state’s best restaurants.
To order a copy, visit shoparizonahighways.com/books/cookbooks.