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Cuban Thanksgiving Turkey

recipe at a glance
Rating: 5/5
5 reviews

ready in: over 5 hrs
serves/makes:   12

recipe id: 46512

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13 pounds turkey, preferably fresh
salt & fresh ground pepper
8 tablespoons unsalted butter


1 head garlic, break in cloves and peel
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup lime juice or sour orange juice


The day before, remove the giblets and any lumps of fat from the turkey cavities. 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 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 lime juice or sour orange juice. If you do not have a mortar and pestle, puree the ingredients in a blender. Add 3 tbls marinade to the main cavity and 1 tbls 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 degrees F.

Thinly slice the butter and place half of the slices under the skin. Melt 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 melted butter. Loosely drape a large piece of cheesecloth over the skin, then pour the remaining butter and marinade over the cheesecloth. Roast the bird for 2 hours. Baste with the juices and melted butter that collect in the pan. Lift the cheesecloth from time to time to keep it from sticking to the bird.

Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees F and roast for 1 hour. Increase the heat to 400 degrees F and remove the cheesecloth from the turkey. Roast 15-20 minutes, basting frequently. When cooked, the skin will be golden and the leg juices will run clear when pricked with a fork. The internal temperature should be 185 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer and the drumstick should feel loose when wiggled. 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.

cook's notes

Sour orange is a bumpy green-orange fruit that looks like an orange but tastes like a lime. Limes are often used in their place.

added by



691 calories, 38 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrates, 80 grams protein per serving. This recipe is low in carbs.
Show full nutritional data (including Weight Watcher's Points ®, cholesterol, sodium, vitamins, and diabetic exchanges)

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Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
This really does come out awesome. Used this recipe for my first turkey and have done 5 since. Its true, you will be asked to make the turkey every year. Has never come out dry. I add bacon slices on top. Cook at 300 for more than 2 hrs if bird is bigger, than follow rest of cooking instructions. Enjoy.

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
Cubans often don't eat turkey because it's a dry meat. However, when I tried this recipe, my whole family loved it and the pork and ham were not even looked at!! Of course, I have my own secret that I add to the recipe.. ;) LOve it! Can't wait to cook it again this year!

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
The downside to this recipe is that you will be asked to make the turkey every year. Tried this recipe 3 years in a row already and it is always a hit with family and friends.

Growing up in a Cuban family, we never really had turkey because it tends to be dry. This recipe makes it very moist and flavorful.

I will continue to use this recipe. I tend to use more garlic than indicated and I use Naranja Agria that you can buy either in bottle form or as a can buy it at a Latin Mercado or anywhere you buy Goya products.

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
I had the pleasure to cook this wonderful dish for my expat American friends when living in the Caribbean last year. As an Australian, I have never celebrated the tradition of Thanksgiving so this was not only a Thanksgiving first, but also the first time I had cooked Turkey!

The recipe did not disappoint and we were blessed with a tasty, moist bird for Thanksgiving dinner. It was so good I was given the title of 'honarary American'!

I repeated the magic on Christmas Day cooking a bird for our expat South African friends. Again, the bird was a hit!

Try this recipe - you won't be disappointed!

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
i lived in south fla years ago. old beau of mine happened to be cuban. this cuban turkey best i have ever had! cuban turkey for me this year! fixing for new beau and family cannot wait, they are going to love it!

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