The juiciest & most savory turkey to ever be featured on a holiday table. No “pavo seco” over here.
By Chef Yadi Garcia | @happyhealthylatina
This final stretch of the year is a cherished time for Caribbean households and many households across the country. It’s a time to give thanks and honor familia, the family we were born into and the ones we choose. It is the time when most of our food traditions and elaborate meals come out on full display as an expression of love. A time when kitchens are filled with generational magic, often finding abuelas, mamis, hijas, tias, primas in the kitchen together using the recipes passed down to us that bind us together and remind us of our ancestors.
While we sit at our global tables, we also find ourselves inviting friends, spouses, and family members from different backgrounds to share their traditions with us. Blending older recipes and techniques with more contemporary recipes at our holiday table. You might find moro de gandules tucked next to cornbread, pernil next to stuffing, or flan next to pumpkin pie. In my family we usually reserve pernil for Christmas Eve and New Years and have turkey for Thanksgiving.
As an American-born, Dominicana whose heart, kitchen, and traditions live in both places, I am here to introduce you to what I feel is the ultimate turkey (pavo) recipe you’ll need as the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving table this year. This pavo guisado recipe is an ode to the savory, rich, saucy island flavors and ingredients many of us have grown up with, but on a turkey. Blending it into something new, but definitely making it a star of the spread. The juiciest and most savory turkey to ever be featured on a holiday table. No “pavo seco” over here.
The secret is in the coffee brine that helps retain its moisture. Then it's layered with lots of sazones, herbs, and vegetables we love and grew up with in our Caribbean kitchens. It’s a feel-good recipe that you can definitely make your own, pass down and enjoy with your familias for years to come.
1 turkey (12-14 lb), broken down into leg, thighs, wings, and breast.*
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 4 tbsp Loisa Sal Marina (Sea Salt)
- 6 garlic cloves
6 sweet ajicitos
- ½ bunch of fresh cilantro
- ½ bunch of fresh culantro or recao
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 2 scallions
- 2 tbsp Dominican oregano
- 3 tbsp Loisa Adobo
- 1 tbsp Loisa Sazón
- 1 tbsp Loisa Paprika
- 1 tbsp Loisa Black Pepper
- ⅓ cup of fresh sour orange juice (juice of 2 sour oranges- naranja agria)
- ½ cup of white wine
- 1 cup of pilsner, like Presidente
2 red onions (one cut into rings, one small dice)
- ½ tbsp fresh minced garlic
- 2 cubanelle pepper, julienned
- 1 red bell pepper, julienned
- 1 green bell pepper, julienned
- 1 orange bell pepper, julienned
- ¾ cup Loisa Sofrito
- ¼ cup avocado oil
- 3 tbsp tomato paste, dilute and mix with ¼ cup of water
¼ cup alcaparrado (mix of olives, pimentos, capers)
1 qt chicken (or turkey broth)
* Have your butcher break down turkey or break it down yourself. Discard giblets. Save bones to make turkey broth or discard.
Turkey Prep & Brine
Wash your turkey with sea salt, water, and apple cider vinegar.
- Make the coffee by combining 2 qt of very hot water with 1 1/2 oz of instant espresso in a small pot. Let cool.
In a large pot or container, create your brine. Add 2 qt of water, 2-3 tablespoons of sea salt, and the coffee you just made. Submerge your turkey in the liquid and let brine for 3-5 hours.
In a bowl, make your marinade by combining 1 tbsp Loisa Adobo, 1 tbsp Loisa Sazón, ½ tbsp smoked paprika, ½ tbsp black pepper, 2 tsp Dominican oregano, sour orange juice, ⅓ cup white wine, rosemary sprigs, and 1-2 tsp of sea salt.
In a mortar y pestle, add 6 garlic cloves, 2 ajicito peppers, 2-3 sprigs of cilantro, 2 sprigs of culantro, 2 tbsp oregano, and 2 tbsp Loisa Adobo. Mash until combines and garlic, peppers, cilantro, and culantro break down into smaller pieces. Add to the marinade.
- Remove your turkey pieces from the brine and coat entirely in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, heat a large caldero or pot over medium high flame. Add ¼ cup avocado oil, ½ cup Loisa Sofrito, ½ the julienned peppers, the diced red onion, and ½ tbsp minced garlic.
Add your marinated turkey and allow to brown for 5-7 minutes. Add ½ tsbp smoked paprika.
- In a separate bowl, dilute 2 tbsp tomato paste in ¼ cup water. Add to the pot.
- Add 2 destemmed & chopped ajicito peppers to the pot.
- Next, add your chicken stock ½ at a time, allowing the stock to begin to evaporate slightly before adding the next ½ cup (approx. 7-10 minutes between each addition). Continue until 1 quart of stock has been added. Approx. 45-50 minutes.
When the turkey is cooked through, add ¾ cup of beer along with the remaining Dominican oregano, 1 tsp black pepper, and 2 more destemmed and chopped ajicito peppers. Cook for 5-7 minutes.
Add remaining ¼ cup beer, red onion cut into rings, and ½ julienned peppers. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup wine, ¼ cup Loisa Sofrito, and alcaparrado. Cook for an additional 20 minutes or until all the meat is tender.
Plate and serve!