Here is one last turkey recipe that should take some serious consideration for your day of thanks. I will open by saying that my cousin’s wife Lisset can really cook. She made a wonderful X-mas meal for my family some years ago in Michigan. Among the many highlights of that meal her turkey grabbed my attention. As I ate the turkey I truly thought to myself “this is the best turkey I have ever had.” Last year I finally got around to asking her for the recipe so I could make it myself.
Unfortunately, I had to wait until New Year’s Eve to make the turkey. The last few years I have not had control over making the turkey as I would have liked to. My in-laws have hijacked Thanksgiving cooking from me. They are all capable cooks and the meal is always wonderful, so I should not and will not complain any further.
When New Year’s finally rolled around I cooked my long-awaited turkey. The bird was just as good as I remembered. Her recipe is built with smokey paprika, cumin, cornbread stuffing, and the final and key element Spanish chorizo. Lisset is Cuban and the reason her cooking often floors me is our common passion for pork. I have had other stuffings paired with sausage in my day. With that said none compare to Spanish chorizo, it just outshines all the other sausages when it comes to making stuffing. Now that you have pained through my little back story. Here is the recipe for perhaps the best turkey I have ever had.
Cumin-and-Oregano Rubbed Turkey with Chorizo-and-Cornbread Stuffing
16-pound turkey, fresh or defrosted
3-4 cups Cornbread Stuffing (recipe follows)
Cumin Rub (recipe follows)
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the plastic piece from the legs of the turkey, if necessary, and the gizzard package and neck from the cavity. Rinse the turkey inside and out with very cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
Loosely stuff the turkey with the stuffing. Pull the legs together so that they overlap. Use the kitchen string to tie the legs together. Spoon any leftover cornbread stuffing into a buttered ovenproof casserole dish. Bake in a 350-degree oven, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown.
Using your hands, gently rub about half to three quarters of the cumin rub over the exterior of the turkey, working it lightly into the skin. Reserve the remaining rub for basting the turkey during roasting.
Place the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan. Roast uncovered for 30 minutes until the skin starts to brown, then cover with aluminum foil.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the 3 sticks of butter over medium heat. Stir in the remaining rub. Set aside, covered, to keep warm. Use a pastry brush to baste the turkey with the seasoned butter every 30 minutes during roasting.
Reduce the heat to 325 degrees and roast the turkey for about 4 ½ hours, or until the juices run clear when the meat is pricked, the leg joints feel loose, and a meat thermometer registers 180 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the thigh. Check the stuffing: the thermometer should register 165 degrees when inserted into the center of the stuffing.
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cumin
5 tablespoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons smoked paprika (hot)
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons fresh-cracked pepper
¼ cup olive oil
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Combine the seasonings and olive oil in a mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and stir to mix well. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
4 8½-ounce boxes cornbread mix
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 large Spanish onions, chopped
10 cloves garlic, minced
4 small (7 ounces) chorizo sausages, diced, such as Palacios
2 roasted red bell peppers, chopped
1 cup fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Bake the cornbread according to package directions. While the bread is still warm, cut it into small cubes in the pan. Let the bread sit at room temperature, uncovered, for 12 hours or overnight. Remove the bread from the pan and crumble to make coarse breadcrumbs.
To toast the pine nuts, bake them on a baking sheet in a 300-degree oven for approximately 5 minutes until they turn golden brown. Watch carefully as they will burn fast. Immediately remove the nuts from the pan to a clean dish to stop them cooking.
In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, pine nuts, sautéed onion and garlic, sausages, red pepper and oregano, mixing well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The stuffing can be made up to this point a day in advance and kept refrigerated in an airtight container.
Reserve 3 to 4 cups of the stuffing to stuff the turkey.