Thanksgiving Turkey

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Thanksgiving Turkey

Right after we got married, we moved from Mexico City to Dallas, Texas. It was in the middle of the very hot summer, oh how I remember that.

I had always been a great eater… but not a great cook. The youngest of four daughters, I had always been labeled the intellectual one, while each one of my older sisters jumped into the cooking and lifestyle field in one way or another.

Back then, I was focusing all my efforts on finishing my political science thesis to become an academic. But not knowing anyone, with my husband traveling all the time, and sort of locking myself in the duplex we lived in to write most of the time, I became insanely nostalgic for my family and the foods that we ate back home. So I jumped in the kitchen, and started to chat with anyone and everyone who seemed open to share recipes with me, in an attempt to recreate the soups, the stews, the dishes, and the nurturing flavors that I knew would help me feel at home.

Then came October. Like a sudden rain fall, I started seeing luscious Thanksgiving menu images everywhere: in stores, at the mall, on TV, on glossy books and cooking magazines in grocery stores. “A festive turkey meal in October,” I wondered. In Mexico, turkey is eaten for Christmas! “Oh boy,” I thought, “here they really do plan ahead of time.”

I had never heard of Thanksgiving before. Yet intrigued by the photos and recipes I was seeing, I made a full Thanksgiving meal for my husband and I. That was the very first one. Since then, we have sat down for a Thanksgiving meal every single year. Fast forward 19 years, and by now, I can tell you that Thanksgiving has become my favorite American holiday.

It is not only because of the food, but because of how friends and family come together around the table. How everyone seems to contribute in what is almost a communal effort. How the holiday is so timeless, with classic dishes that need to remain classics. But there is also an open window for flavors and ingredients that can enrich the meal.

Now, so many years later, I get the meaning of Thanksgiving more than ever. Here is my humble offer for your table: a turkey recipe packed with the sazón of some of my favorite flavor combinations and the tastiest Chorizo, Apple and Cornbread Stuffing.

Oh, by the way, for Season 5 of Pati’s Mexican Table, we made a Thanksgiving episode. I really do hope you catch it! Here is a clip.

You can also find out when the episode is playing in your location, by entering your zip code here.

Thanksgiving Turkey
Print Recipe
10 to 12 servings Pavo de Acción de Gracias
Ingredients
  • For the marinade:
  • 6 tablespoons achiote paste from a bar
  • 6 cups bitter orange juice or its substitute
  • 6 cups homemade chicken broth or store bought
  • 12 cloves garlic (skin on) charred, broiled or toasted, and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • For the turkey:
  • 1 16- to 18-pound turkey, rinsed and patted dry
  • 4 whole red onions peeled and sliced
  • 8 ripe tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 2 to 3 banana leaves (optional)
  • 1 brining bag large enough for a turkey (or an extra-large plastic bag)
  • Chorizo, Apple and Corn Bread Stuffing
To Prepare
  • To make the marinade, in a blender or food processor, working in 2 batches, add the achiote paste, bitter orange juice or its substitute, chicken broth, garlic, oregano, cumin, allspice, salt, and pepper and puree until smooth.
  • Slide the turkey, with the breast side down, into the brining bag. Pour the marinade into the bag and massage it into the bird, working it into the cavity and all the crevasses. Place the bag in a mixing bowl or roasting pan and refrigerate for 12 to 48 hours, turning the turkey a couple of times to redistribute the marinade.
  • Set the oven rack at the lowest position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Spread the onions and tomatoes in a large roasting pan. Sit the turkey on the vegetables breast side up. Stuff the main cavity with as much stuffing as it can hold and place the rest in a buttered baking dish. Close the cavity by crossing and tying the legs with butcher’s twine. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey. Pour as much of the remaining marinade over the turkey as will fit halfway up the pan.
  • Roast the turkey for 30 minutes. Cover the turkey with layers of banana leaves, if you are using them, and then cover the entire pan with aluminum foil, sealing it as best as you can. The less steam that is able to escape the better.
  • Reduce the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place turkey back in the oven and roast for 3 1/2 hours, or for at least 12 minutes per pound. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the leaves and/or the foil, being careful as the steam is hot. Return to the oven and roast for 20 more minutes. The turkey should be completely cooked through and nearly falling off the bone.
  • Remove turkey from the oven and let it rest for at least 15 to 20 minutes, loosely covered with the aluminum foil.
  • Strain all the cooked vegetables and juice into a medium 3-quart saucepan, pressing with the back of the spoon to get as much liquid as possible. Set aside 1 cup for the stuffing. Simmer the remaining sauce for 15 to 20 minutes, until it has reduced by half.
  • While the turkey rests, pour the reserved marinade over the stuffing in the baking dish and place it in the oven for 20 minutes, or until it is hot and the top is crisped.
  • Carve the turkey and serve with the stuffing.
Ingredients
  • For the marinade:
  • 6 tablespoons achiote paste from a bar
  • 6 cups bitter orange juice or its substitute
  • 6 cups homemade chicken broth or store bought
  • 12 cloves garlic (skin on) charred, broiled or toasted, and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • For the turkey:
  • 1 16- to 18-pound turkey, rinsed and patted dry
  • 4 whole red onions peeled and sliced
  • 8 ripe tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 2 to 3 banana leaves (optional)
  • 1 brining bag large enough for a turkey (or an extra-large plastic bag)
  • Chorizo, Apple and Corn Bread Stuffing
To Prepare
  • To make the marinade, in a blender or food processor, working in 2 batches, add the achiote paste, bitter orange juice or its substitute, chicken broth, garlic, oregano, cumin, allspice, salt, and pepper and puree until smooth.
  • Slide the turkey, with the breast side down, into the brining bag. Pour the marinade into the bag and massage it into the bird, working it into the cavity and all the crevasses. Place the bag in a mixing bowl or roasting pan and refrigerate for 12 to 48 hours, turning the turkey a couple of times to redistribute the marinade.
  • Set the oven rack at the lowest position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Spread the onions and tomatoes in a large roasting pan. Sit the turkey on the vegetables breast side up. Stuff the main cavity with as much stuffing as it can hold and place the rest in a buttered baking dish. Close the cavity by crossing and tying the legs with butcher’s twine. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey. Pour as much of the remaining marinade over the turkey as will fit halfway up the pan.
  • Roast the turkey for 30 minutes. Cover the turkey with layers of banana leaves, if you are using them, and then cover the entire pan with aluminum foil, sealing it as best as you can. The less steam that is able to escape the better.
  • Reduce the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place turkey back in the oven and roast for 3 1/2 hours, or for at least 12 minutes per pound. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the leaves and/or the foil, being careful as the steam is hot. Return to the oven and roast for 20 more minutes. The turkey should be completely cooked through and nearly falling off the bone.
  • Remove turkey from the oven and let it rest for at least 15 to 20 minutes, loosely covered with the aluminum foil.
  • Strain all the cooked vegetables and juice into a medium 3-quart saucepan, pressing with the back of the spoon to get as much liquid as possible. Set aside 1 cup for the stuffing. Simmer the remaining sauce for 15 to 20 minutes, until it has reduced by half.
  • While the turkey rests, pour the reserved marinade over the stuffing in the baking dish and place it in the oven for 20 minutes, or until it is hot and the top is crisped.
  • Carve the turkey and serve with the stuffing.

23 comments on “Thanksgiving Turkey

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  1. This looks nice – you could do it with a capon or chicken also. Any idea how long to steam a 6 lb chicken without the stuffing?

    1. John you can use the same recipe but cut down the ingredients and the time on each step by a third if you use a 3 pound chicken.

  2. ¡Hola Pati! Acabo de descubrir sus series en la televisión, la receta del pavo me hizo agua la boca ja ja
    ¡Le voy a mandar la receta a mi mama y yo sé que en este Noviembre haremos un pavo tan tradicional con un nuevo sabor y sazón! Es tan linda, voy a continuar a ver su programa
    Muchos saludos!!

  3. Hi Pati,
    We just watched your thanksgiving episode yesterday, now we want to make this meal soon!!! Love your show and your lovely personality!

  4. Please tell your husband that instead of another Thanksgiving in June……we are celebrating my Father’s 87th Birthday on 03/31 and we will be duplicating your Thanksgiving Dinner in a celebration in his honor. My brother is bringing the Banana Leaves from his tree to me this week! Once again, you have inspired me, not only with your recipes and how delectable you make them “taste” through your programs but your lust for each dish you make. I have always wanted to try Pork Belly, my Dad’s Birthday is a perfect reason to. But before I do, I will wake up tomorrow and make Pan de Arena. With great gratitude and best wishes to you and your family.

    Michelle. (Vigevano)

  5. Hi Pati,
    We Love your show & your family. Just finished watching your Thanksgiving episode, loved and saved all the recipes to try, as always your dishes are exciting and different, can’t wait to make a “Pati” Thanksgiving…in February LOL.
    The only thing missing…your friends brought a fennel salad which looked really refreshing to cleanse the palette and balance all the richness, however I didn’t take note when she said the ingredients because I was sure I’d find it online 🙁 but it wasn’t here. I don’t need measurements I can work it out but if you could let us know the ingredients it would really be appreciated. I thin k it would just really round out the meal. I’ve been watching you since the beginning with my Mom & Gramma, since your boys were little in your first tiny kitchen….please keep bringing your own personality to cooking, it’s like being in the kitchen with a best girlfriend! your show has introduced Mexican cooking & flavors to this German girl from Queens in a way that is simple and fun! Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!!!!

    1. Oh thank you so much Janice for your lovely message. The fennel salad is my friend Tamara’s staple salad. It has fennel, spinach, pears, almonds, red onion, feta or blue cheese and a red wine vinaigrette.

      1. You are welcome Pati, you & your shows truly deserve the praise.
        Thank you so very much for the recipe for the salad, ( and please thank your friend Tamara!), now that your son is off at college perhaps you and Tamara should cook something together one episode!

        I re-watched the episode but only the spinach & fennel are mentioned, glad I asked. can’t wait to try the recipes.
        Thanks again,
        Janice

  6. Hi Pati,
    I just finished watching you in Australia.
    I love you & your cooking.
    Can’t wait to try cooking your way & buy your book.

  7. OMG, I saw the TV show reg. this episode the other day, how delicious and impressive. Definitivamente lo voy a hacer y no necesariamente en Thanksgiving. My huband and I love watching you, the way you explain and talk about your dishes makes our mouth water…. 🙂 thank you and much success to you and your lovely family. Thank you for sharing it makes you much closer to your audience!

  8. Pati,

    Muchas gracias!!!. Prepare este pavo para la cena de navidad en mi casa. Es la primera vez que cocino pavo, y la verdad a mí me gusta mucho. Pero a mis suegros y a mi esposa, el pavo no les encanta… Entonces decidí hacer algo nuevo y encontré tu deliciosa receta y decidí experimentar. La receta esta tan bien explicada que el pavo y el relleno fueron un éxito, y logre hacer que todos los que no eran fans del pavo se volvieran a servir varias veces!! Y las tortas del recalentado, todavía más ricas!!! Feliz 2017!

    Jose
    Arlington VA

  9. Pati,

    Muchas gracias!!!. Prepare este pavo para la cena de navidad en mi casa. Es la primera vez que cocino pavo, y la verdad a mí me gusta mucho. Pero a mis suegros y a mi esposa, el pavo no les encanta… Entonces decidí hacer algo nuevo y encontré tu deliciosa receta y decidí experimentar. La receta esta tan bien explicada que el pavo y el relleno fueron un éxito, y logre hacer que todos los que no eran fans del pavo se volvieran a servir varias veces!! Y las tortas del recalentado, todavía más ricas!!! Feliz 2017!

    Jose
    Arlington VA