CUBAN THANKSGIVING TURKEY
Over the years, I've tried many methods for cooking Thanksgiving turkey: stuffed with truffles in the style of the French,
smoked over maple wood in the style of New England, blasted with chilies à la Southwest. My favorite is the turkey
prepared by our Cuban friend, Elida. The day before, Elida loosens the skin from the bird and rubs the mat with a piquant
mixture of garlic, salt, and sour orange juice. The bird is roasted in a cloth bag or under cheesecloth for the first few
hours to keep the breast meat moist. The turkey is cooked at a relatively low temperature to begin with and the heat is
increased at the end to crisp the skin. The Pilgrims would have been impressed.
Serves 12 to 14
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For the Turkey
1 turkey (12 to 14 pounds), preferably fresh
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Marinade
1 head of garlic, broken into cloves and peeled
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup sour orange juice or fresh lime juice
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter.
You will also need:
||The day before you cook the turkey, remove the giblets and any lumps of fat from the cavities of the turkey.
Wash the turkey well and blot dry. Season the inside with salt and pepper. Loosen the turkey skin from the meat.
To do so, start at the neck and tunnel your fingers, then your whole hand, under the skin to separate the skin from
the breast meat. Slide your hand down to loosen the skin over the thighs, drumsticks, and back. Work carefully so
as not to tear the skin.|
||Prepare the marinade: Mash the garlic and salt to a paste in a mortar with a pestle.
Pound in the pepper, cumin, and oregano and last of all the sour orange juice. If you don't have a mortar and pestle,
purée the ingredients in a blender.|
||Add 3 tablespoons marinade to the main cavity and 1 tablespoon to the neck cavity.
Place the remaining marinade under the skin. Work over a roasting pan to catch any runoff from the marinade.
Place the bird in a large plastic bag with any excess marinade. Marinate the turkey overnight in the refrigerator,
turning several times.|
||Preheat the oven to 300°F.|
||Thinly slice the butter and place half of the slices under the turkey skin. Melt the remaining butter.
Truss the turkey and place it, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Brush the skin of the bird with
some of the melted butter. Loosely drape a large piece of cheesecloth over the skin, then pour the remaining butter
and any leftover marinade over the cheesecloth.|
||Roast the bird for 2 hours. Baste the bird with the juices and melted butter that collect in the bottom of the
pan throughout the cooking process. Lift the cheesecloth from time to time to keep it from sticking to the skin.
Increase the heat to 350°F and roast for 1 hour.|
||Increase the heat to 400°F and remove the cheesecloth. Roast the turkey, 15 to 30 minutes basting frequently,
until done. When cooked the skin will be golden brown and the leg juices will run clear when pricked with a fork.
The internal temperature should read 185°F on an instant-reading thermometer and the drumstick should feel loose when
||Transfer the turkey to a platter or cutting board. Let stand for 15 minutes before carving.
Strain the pan juices and serve in a sauceboat on the side.|