Give the turkey the flavor of your roots
Don't worry, there's no reason to be afraid of the Thanksgiving turkey. After all, it can't bite! So this year why not dare to host the big dinner. If this is your first time roasting a turkey, you'll conquer any fear of it. If you've already tackled the holiday bird, then I can teach how to give it the flavor of your roots.
Here in the U.S., the tasty Thanksgiving turkey is traditionally marinated with butter and other ingredients like celery, carrots, sherry wine, thyme, sage, rosemary, and even mustard. It's then stuffed with bread, more herbs, dried fruits, and occasionally other meats like sausage and beef and served with cranberry sauce.
It's a great tradtion, but I'll show you two very simple ways to make your turkey speak a little Spanish this year.
In my house we always make two, sometimes even three versions of a turkey for Thanksgiving. When I was little, my grandfather would always arrive with a huge pot of "pavo estofado" - shredded turkey stew with red wine. To keep his memory alive, I still make his "pavo estofado" every year. But of course, the roasted turkey is also a classic in my kitchen and as a "Boricua," I put a lot of "sazón" on it.
My recipe is similar to the one known in my country as "pavochón." Since we all love pork, we want our turkey to taste like it too. To achieve this, we use the "adobo" to season it just like we do a "lechón" (pork) and we roast it "a la varita." Personally, I also like to add achiote to this recipe so it grasps some more color and then it's ready to cook!
For the past three years, to please my Mexican friends, I also want to cook a turkey that brings them back to their home country in every bite. So, I cook my pavochón-style turkey filled with yucca, "mofongo," and baste it in a "chile guajillo adobo."
Below I'm going to share two recipes that will not only make you a star on Thanksgiving, but will also give everyone around your table a special taste of home. The most important secret I can share is to marinate your bird 24-36 hours in advance. Rub the adobo all over the turkey's inside and between the breast meat and skin. Then, you'll roast it at 325 degrees Farenheit, 15 minutes-per-pound until it reaches 155 degrees. According to the USDA, a turkey must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. But, the turkey's internal temperature will continue to rise after you take it out, so I prefer to take it out at 155 so it will rise to 165 while resting.
Without further ado, here are my "adobos" perfect for a 12-pound turkey.
"Pavochón con achiote adobo"
¾ cup olive oil with achiote or 1 envelope of sazón con culantro y achiote
1 bulb of garlic, cleaned, mashed or finely minced
1 tablespoon dry oregano
1 tablespoon dry parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a deep container, combine all the "adobo" (marinate) ingredients.
2. Clean the turkey with water, dry it, and bathe all over with the marinade. Add salt and pepper to taste, cover the bird, and refrigerate until you are ready to cook it.
"Yuca Mofongo" stuffing
3-4 pounds of yuca (peeled and cut in small cubes of 2 inches)
6 slices of bacon cut in small pieces, then fried until crispy
6 cloves of fresh garlic
1 stick of butter (melted)
Fresh chopped cilantro to taste
1. Boil yuca in salted water until tender, then drain it, transfer to a plate, and gently remove thin woody cores.
2. Preheat oil in a deep pan or fryer to 350 degrees and fry the yuca until golden brown (about 3-4 minutes).
3. Add a clove of garlic and a pinch of salt to a "pilón" (wood mortar) and pound to make a garlic paste.
4. Then start adding a few pieces of yuca and bacon. Keep rotating the mortar and pounding down towards the sides until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed into a smooth mash.
5. Add butter to make it softer, some cilantro, and season with salt while you keep mashing to distribute all ingredients evenly.
6. Repeat these steps until you mash and combine all the ingredients.
7. Add a few tablespoons of turkey juices on top of the mofongo to add more flavor to it and then serve right away.
Turkey in "chile guajillo adobo"
3 oz. guajillo chiles (approximately 24)
Juice from 2 bitter oranges/naranja agria (or 2 oranges and 2 lemons)
½ white onion
1 whole garlic, mashed or finely minced
1 tablespoon achiote in powder or paste
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon cumin
1 sprig of epazote or 5-6 of cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Clean the chiles on both sides with a moistened cloth. In a comal or a pan at high temperature, heat the chiles for 1-2 minutes and set aside. In the same comal or pan, brown the onion and garlic until some areas start to blacken.
2. In the meantime, remove the seeds and veins from the chiles. Soak the chiles in a deep container with water for about 20 minutes.
3. Combine everything in the blender, except the water of the chiles. Use just a little bit of it in case you need to, so everything blends well.
4. Then proceed to marinate the turkey with the "adobo" and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to cook.
Buen provecho and happy Thanksgiving Day!!!
Doreen Colondres is a leading figure in today's "cocina latina" movement. Creator of The Kitchen Doesn't Bite, Fox Network Utilísima's Celebrity Chef, Siempre Mujer Food Editor, food lover and tireless traveler. Passionate about teaching people to cook authentic Hispanic food using fresh ingredients. She is determined to revolutionize the way people approach Hispanic food.