This recipe is very special to me because it’s one of my Grandpa’s special dishes! He would make this roasted turkey for Christmas every year when I was a little girl in Dominican Republic and it was a real treat! He taught me how to make it and now I make it for Thanksgiving and Christmas (Turkey season) for my family.
This recipe is written for a large turkey and to make it you will need the following ingredients:
~15lb Whole Turkey
3 Cups of Bitter/Sour Orange Juice, or 4 Fresh Bitter/Sour Oranges
2 – 3 Habanero Chiles (Aji Gustoso)
1/4 Cup Spanish Olives
1/2 Cup Uncooked Serrano Ham (or Virginia Ham)
1 Smoked Pork Chop (Chuleta Ahumada)
2 Cups White Wine
4 Cloves Garlic
1 tbsp Oregano
1/2 – 1 tsp Salt
1/2 Ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Cumin
1 Stick of Butter
2 tbsp Tomato Paste (optional)
The turkey that I will be cooking today weighs 13lbs. To prepare it, make sure it’s defrosted (if you buy it frozen, let it thaw out in the fridge for a couple of days), then take out the neck and the giblets from the inside,
First, I like to brine the turkey in some bitter/sour oranges (naranja agria) and limes for a few hours (preferably overnight). If you have a hard time finding fresh bitter oranges (naranja agria), look for the bottled kind in the international isle of most super markets (where goya products are easily found),
To do that, place the turkey in a large pot and pour about 3 cups of the bitter orange juice over it, I’m using the bottled kind because the stores near me didn’t have fresh ones in stock,
Then squeeze the juice of 4 limes over the turkey and add the lime halfs to the pot as well, do not discard them,
Add enough fresh water to submerge the turkey,
Then let it hang out for a few hours (atleast 3), preferably overnight,
Then drain the brine water and give the turkey one more rinse with fresh water,
Now we are ready to start seasoning the turkey. We are going to make a stuffing for the turkey with the smoked pork chop (chuleta ahumada), serrano ham (uncooked is better), Spanish olives, habanero chiles (aji gustoso) and almonds.
The easiest way to do this is by using a food processor if you have one, if not, you have to finely chop every item.
With a pairing knife, cut some small holes in the breasts, thighs, drumsticks and wings of the turkey (avoid bony areas).
Then take about 1 – 2 tsp of the mixture and stuff it into each hole.
Since this turkey runs on the smaller side at 13 lbs (this recipe makes enough stuffing for a turkey up to 20 lbs), take the extra mixture and stuff it under the skin of the turkey where it is accessible. Be careful not to rupture the skin (it happens sometimes, I did making this particular bird ),
Make sure to put some of the mixture inside the turkey as well,
Once the turkey is stuffed, place it into a big pot to season. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of ground oregano all over the turkey,
Then sprinkle some salt over it (about 1/2 – 1 tsp is enough),
Add some ground black pepper (about 1/2 tsp is good),
Then add the finely chopped or mashed garlic,
Finally add a little bit of cumin (this is a strong spice, 1/4 tsp is more than enough),
Now let’s get our hands dirty! Rub the spices onto the turkey, make sure to lift it and rub it on the bottom as well.
Then take 2 cups of white wine (you can use cooking wine, but I highly recommend you use a wine you enjoy drinking, even if it’s a little sweet), then lightly pour a little wine over the top (not alot to not wash off the seasoning), then pour the rest down the side of the turkey.
With your hands, give the turkey a bath in the wine and seasoning, make sure to get some inside as well,
Then, finally squeeze the juice of 2 limes over it (discard the juiced limes ),
Cover and let it marinate overnight for best flavor.
Now comes the fun part, cooking time!!
Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees.
Put the turkey on a roasting pan that has a floating rack (for better cooking), place the giblets on the bottom under the rack and make sure to pour all of the liquid seasoning onto the turkey so that it settles on the bottom of the pan,
Take 1 red apple (I’m using McIntosh for this recipe) and peel it, add the peel to the liquid on the bottom of the roasting pan,
Remove the core from the apple,
You can grate the apple with a shredder, or if you have a food processor just add it to the food processor with the butter (1 stick) to create a compound butter with it,
This is optional, but it’s how my Grandpa taught me to make it. Add 2 tbsp of tomato paste to the apple butter to combine. I have made this recipe using the apple butter without the tomato paste and it comes out equally delicious. You don’t really taste the tomato paste in the dish, this is just to give the turkey a really dark almost charred color (my Grandpa loved that!) instead of the typical golden color,
After combining the apple butter with the tomato paste, rub it all over the turkey. If you have a spare pastry brush laying around, use that to avoid getting your hands dirty (just make sure not to use that same pastry brush on desserts in the future),
Now the turkey is ready to start roasting. Don’t worry if the compound butter is a little chunky. The butter was very cold when I used it, if I would’ve used room temperature butter it would’ve been smoother.
Put it in the oven and let it cook for about 30 minutes, then baste it and pour all of those delicious juices over to top, sides and inside of it. Then place back in the oven and wait 30 minutes until basting it again.
I usually baste it 3 times (every 30 minutes for 1.5 hours),
After the third baste, cover it with aluminum foil and let it cook covered for 1.5 hours. If your turkey is bigger than 13 lbs, look up the suggested baking time to make sure you don’t under-cook or overcook your bird.
Another way to check if the turkey is thoroughly cooked is by sticking a meat thermometer in the thick part of the breast, the temperature should be 180 degrees or higher. When the turkey is fully cooked, let it rest covered for about 30 minutes before carving.
This is the turkey ready to be carved. It has that dark charred look, but it is NOT burnt (it doesn’t have a burnt taste either).
One tip when it comes to carving the turkey breast, is to cut out the entire breast area out,
Then slice the turkey breast into medium sized slices, so that each piece of the breast has some of the skin,
Now let’s make the gravy. You can always make the gravy while the turkey is resting, to save time, just put the turkey on another platter and cover it.
To make the gravy, take the pan drippings,
Pour the drippings into a blender cup and let it rest for 5 – 10 minutes so that the grease settles on the top,
I HIGHLY recommend you scoop out the excess grease,
After removing most of the grease, turn the blender on and let the gravy blend for a couple of minutes,
Then pour the blended drippings into a saucepan or small pot and put it on high heat, let it come up to a boil,
Then take a small bowl, add about 1 – 2 tsp of corn starch,
Then add a little bit of cold water to dissolve the cornstarch with a fork,
Then add the mixture to the gravy,
Stir well and let the gravy cook for a few minutes. If you want a thicker gravy add another tsp of dissolved cornstarch to the gravy and let it cook for a few more minutes. I prefer a looser gravy so usually 1 – 2 tsp is enough for me, also remember that when the gravy cools it will get thicker. It’s a very flavorful gravy, but give it a taste before serving to see if you want to add more salt and pepper.
After the gravy is ready, turn the heat off and serve it with the turkey.
I HIGHLY recommend you pour some over the turkey, it just really completes the dish! This turkey is very flavorful, juicy and will be the star of your dinner table during the holidays or family dinner.