Marinating a turkey was unheard of in my growing-up years but thankfully times have changed and our culinary methods are far more eclectic these days. There’s a plethora of marinade recipes available from every region of the world so you only need find one that suits your stuffing and your tastes. This particular recipe is a tweaked version of a Cuban marinade I’ve used on roasted chicken. It’s packed with flavor and compliments my bread stuffing with chorizo and pine nuts.
For the best results buy a fresh, organic turkey from your butcher. In lieu of a fresh bird, a ButterBall turkey is perhaps the best quality and comes with pretty fail-safe directions for stuffing and roasting. Be sure your frozen bird is completely thawed out in the refrigerator. This may take 2 days or more and any liquids accumulated in the drip tray should be removed at least every 12 hours. Once the turkey is completely thawed, remove the giblets and neck, reserve for stock. Rinse the bird under cold running water, inside and out, then dry with paper towels, or a clean cotton kitchen towel, and place in a clean roasting pan. Be sure to use warm soapy water to wash down cupboards and cutting boards after handling any poultry.
This recipe is enough for a 10-12 pound turkey. Sazon seasoning (Goya brand) is available at Latin markets, Wholefoods and most of the bigger supermarkets. If you cannot find it, substitute 1 tsp ground coriander and 2 Tbsp annatto oil, or 1 Tbsp Adobo de Achiote.
Ingredients for Marinade:
- 8 garlic cloves mashed with 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 envelope Sazon seasoning with Culantro and Annatto or Adobo de Achiote
- 1/3 cup sour orange juice or dry white wine
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, minced
- Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Liberally massage marinade on the inside and outside of the turkey.
- Place in roaster pan, cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 12 hours.
- Loosely stuff the turkey with the stuffing. Pull the legs together so that they overlap. Use butcher’s twine to tie the legs together. Tuck the tips of the wings under the back.
- Place turkey in a 400° F. oven for 30 minutes to brown the skin. Cover with aluminum foil, reduce heat to 325° F. and roast for about 4 ½ hours or until juices run clear when the meat is pricked, the leg joints feel loose, and a meat thermometer registers 180 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the thigh.
- Check the stuffing: the thermometer should register 165 degrees when inserted into the center of the stuffing.
- Baste turkey with pan juices during roasting.
- Stock made from the giblets and neck is perfect for moistening your stuffing and making gravy with pan juices.
- Make giblet stock the night before stuffing the bird. In a large sauce pan place cleaned giblets and neck, cover with water.
- Add 1/2 onion chopped, 8 sprigs parsley, 3 sprigs of oregano, 1 tsp of Adobo de Achiote or 1 tsp coriander seed, 1/2 tsp salt, 6 black peppercorns and a few dashes of chili sauce.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until giblets are fork tender. Add more water if needed during cooking.
- Cool to room temperature. Remove meat, chop and return to liquid. Refrigerate until needed.
Chorizo and Pine Nut Stuffing:
- 8 cups dried bread cubes
- 8 oz chorizo sausage (hot or mild), casings removed
- 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted in a dry skillet
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 Tbsp Sazon or Adobo de Achiote
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper or 1 habanero chili, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- stewed and chopped giblets and neck meat plus broth as needed
- Place bread cubes in a large bowl.
- Saute onion in 1 Tbsp butter until wilted and fragrant. Remove to bowl with bread cubes.
- Add sausage to saute pan and saute until crumbled and fat has been rendered. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon and add to bread cubes.
- Add remaining ingredients to bread crumbs and toss to combine with enough giblet broth to moisten all. Reserve remaining broth for gravy.
- Check seasoning and stuff bird loosely. Place remaining stuffing in a buttered casserole. Bake at 325° F. for 20-25 minutes until browned and crisp on top.
Tip for making lumpless gravy:
- Add giblet broth to pan drippings and bring to a boil.
- In a glass jar with lid, pour 1/2 cup cold water, add 2 Tbsp flour, tighten lid on jar and shake until flour and water are smooth and creamy.
- Whisk floury water into drippings until gravy thickens. If you want thicker gravy add more flour and if you want thinner gravyadd more broth or wine to the drippings.