By now you have probably seen many recipes for cooking Turkey, but we are just getting started and preparing for this coming Christmas Holiday, which traditionally is celebrated in a big way in México and most Spanish-speaking countries. So, if you want to try something a bit different this year, this is our family recipe: Boneless Stuffed Turkey.
But before we start, let me share with you a story that perhaps some of you already know. The “turkey” we all are familiar with is originally known in Spanish as “Guajolote” or “Pavo”, a word derived from the náhuatl “Huexolotl”. This large, beautiful bird was often a main meal in festivities prepared in honor of the Aztec Emperors. When the Spaniards first came to America, they were fascinated with this large bird, and sent them to Europe, where they quickly became popular and served in different ways in royal palaces for monarchs and the upper class. Most of us are familiar with the traditional turkey cooked for Thanksgiving Holiday, but now you know that bird has been a part of our culinary history much longer than most of us have imagined.
In the hot and humid southern states of Tabasco, Yucatán and Quintana Roo they have a special way to cook Turkey. It is called “ Pavo a la Galantina”, (Galantine Turkey), deboned and stuffed with ground meat, raisins, and almonds and then poached. Besides being cooked for Christmas, it is also sold as a cold meat throughout the year to make sandwiches or to serve as hors d’oeuvres. And since my husband’s family has strong roots in the South of México I guess that’s where they learned to cook the boneless turkey, we always cook the bird boneless but bake it instead of poaching it. Anyway, everyone that has tried the turkey this way has revered about its flavor, aroma and distinctive way of cooking it.
I hope all of you will create great memories for your family this Holiday season. The one I remember more is of my dear aunt “Tia Nono”, when she came home one Christmas to cook a huge turkey. Our kitchen was so small that she had to prepare the turkey in the laundry room on the roof of the apartment building where we lived. Do you have a funny memory or story about cooking your turkey?
Ingredients for 8 to 10 people:
1 large young turkey, (at least 14 lbs, or 7 Kgs).
For the stuffing:
- 1 Lb. ground beef
- 1 Lb. ground pork
- 6 slices smoked bacon finely diced
- ½ cup cured ham, thick sliced and then diced
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup of onion finely chopped
- 1 cup chopped red bell pepper (optional)
- 1/2 cup of chopped olives chopped
- 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic cloves
- 3 celery stalks finely chopped
- ½ cup of almonds peeled and chopped
- ½ cup of prunes chopped (previously soaked in water for ½ hr. and rinsed)
- 1/3 cup raisins (previously soaked in water for ½ hr. and rinsed)
- ½ cup of wine wine
- ½ cup of sweet sherry wine
- ½ fresh or dry bread crumbs
For the outside of the turkey:
- 2 Tablespoon of melted butter or vegetable oil for rubbing the turkey
- Sea Salt and fresh ground black pepper to season the turkey
- You will need:
- A thawed turkey, tail clipped (optional), rinsed and patted dry.
- A sharp boning knife
- cutting board
- Large needle and sewing thread
- paper towels, lots of paper towels.
Instructions for the stuffing:
Mix all the stuffing ingredients in a large bowl and set aside to use when the turkey is ready to be stuffed.
Remove the giblet and neck of the turkey. Using a sharp boning knife, make a single, straight cut on the backbone of the turkey. We will remove the breast, back and part of the tight bones.
Next, use your boning knife to carve the right side of the turkey’s ribcage. However, take care not to cut through the backside of the breast skin. This process may take up to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the turkey and your carving skills.
Cut the thigh joints carving between the bones and the turkey meat. Keep cutting around the ribcage and cut the wings joints. Do not remove the wing bones as they will give shape to the turkey and for presentation. These pictures show you the process in few steps. Be always careful not to cut the skin.
Find the upper thigh joint where it connects to the turkey breast with the other hand and press forward with your thumb on the joint while pulling toward you by the bottom of the leg.
The joint will break. Cut through any connecting cartilage, taking care not to cut the skin.
Carve turkey meat from the top side of the thigh flat bone and remove bone. Leave lower leg for shape and presentation of the turkey. Repeat the process with the left side. And carefully remove the whole breast and back of the turkey, save for a broth. I make Pozole with the left over turkey legs and the broth.
Once you have removed the ribcage, generously season the inside of the turkey with salt and pepper and any herbs or spices you may like to add. Now, you can proceed to stuff the turkey cavity with the meat previously mixed with all the ingredients.
Pull skin together over stuffing. Close the incision using a cotton thread and a large cooking needle. This should take another 5 minutes to sew the turkey. Place the turkey seam side down with the breast up in your baking tray. Coat with butter or oil, season with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey. Roast the turkey in a preheat oven for 2 hrs. or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Remove the turkey to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil; let rest for 20 minutes.Serve accompanied with your favorite side dish (mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, green beans, or just by itself. Either way it’s just delicious.