Christmas Turkey

Christmas Turkey Served


This is not a fancy recipe to impress your guests, just a homemade, simple though festive dinner recipe, made with a lot of love. Traditionally, I prepare this turkey in two occasions every year: Christmas and Thanksgiving. I roast poultry many times but only twice I buy these huge birds that need to rest in brine overnight.

Although roasting big birds might seem difficult for beginners, it doesn’t require much effort, only time (and you don’t have to be looking at the turkey while it is taking its brine bath).

Following other recipes might lead you to a nicely browned turkey, which in some cases could be dry as a stone. This recipe guarantees juicy and tender meat; even the breast will be super juicy and flavorful. This is achieved through the brining process and by cooking the turkey upside down. There is only one thing worse than a dry turkey: an undercooked one. Roasting the turkey slowly helps to prevent that undercooking, while keeping the meat still moist.

There are a few sides I usually serve with this turkey, including potatoes, green beans, dressing and gravy. I will post the recipe for the stuffing with the Thanksgiving Dinner recipe (coming soon).

My apologies for the pictures. Normally it is difficult for me to take good pictures while cooking, but when you have a lot of people coming and several things going on it is even more complicated, so the pictures in this post are pretty bad. Sorry.

Enjoy the holiday season!

 mi pavo y yo




Ingredients (serves 8)

1 10-12 pound turkey

2 oranges

1 ½ cup kosher salt

1 ½ gallon of water

2 tbsps. juniper bays

Rosemary (8 sprigs)


Thyme (4 sprigs)

5 garlic cloves

3 large onions

2 leeks

4 carrots

4 celery sticks

4 apples

1 cup bacon bits

½ cup raisins

½ cup dried apricots

4 shallots

½ cup pecan nuts

½ cup sweet wine

½ cup butter

½ cup evaporated milk or cream

2 tbsps. grated parmesan cheese

2 tbsps. corn starch

1 pound green beans

12 bacon strips

1 ½ chicken stock

salt and pepper





1.- The Turkey


STEP 1.- You will have to start working at least 24 hours before you are ready to serve the meal to prepare the brine, even more if the turkey is frozen because you will need to defrost it. Go to for times and measures.

Bring to a boil 2 cups of water. Add the rind of 2 oranges (you will need the juice later), the juniper bays, the kosher salt and 4 sprigs of rosemary. Lower the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring to dissolve the salt.


STEP 2.- Pour into a larger container and add 1/2 gallon of cold water. Add ice and let cool down completely. When cold, place the turkey into brining bag and fill with the rest of the water (the least you need to cover the turkey). I place my brining bag inside a plastic container so I need less water to completely submerge the bird.

turkey in brine

STEP 3.- Place the brining bag in the fridge and let rest overnight. 5 hours before serving the meal, take the turkey out of the brine, rinse and pat dry. Let warm up to room temperature.


STEP 4.- Lather the cavity with orange juice and introduce 2 leeks, 4 carrots, 4 celery sticks, 1 onion, 3-4 rosemary sprigs, some thyme and sage and 3 garlic cloves. Close the cavity with aluminum foil if the stuffing will easily fall out (normally you won’t need to) and make sure legs and wings are close to the body. Use a string if needed.

verduras pavo

Placing the vegetables and herbs inside the turkey will help us to keep it moist and flavorful, instead of what a traditional stuffing will do: absorb the liquid and take more time to cook, thus increasing the risk of a dry and/or undercooked turkey (yes, both can happen at the same time).

pavo boca arriba


STEP 5.- Rub the outside of the turkey with olive oil (or melted butter). It won’t need salt as it was in the brine.

pavo boca abajo


STEP 6.- Introduce in preheated oven at 425ºF for 30 minutes, breast side down. Lower the heat to 375 and cook for another 30 minutes; lower the heat to 300º and cook the rest of the time needed (15 minutes per pound, about 3 hours total). The last 15 minutes turn the broiler on and turn the turkey breast side up to brown the skin. Add some Cointreau every half hour (1/4 cup each time)

pavo en horno3


STEP 7.- Let rest for 30 minutes outside the oven before carving and serving.

 pavo asado reves


2.- The gravy

STEP 1.- Once the turkey is out of the oven, scrape all the drippings and pour in the degreasing cup.

STEP 2 .- Once the fat has separated pour the liquid in the bottom into a pan over medium heat and bring it to a boil.

gravy cooking

STEP 3.- Dissolve 2 tbsps. cornstarch in one cup of chicken stock and mix it with the hot liquid. Keep stirring while it thickens. If you have a lot of juice from the turkey you can dissolve more cornstarch in cold stock and add it, but remember that it will thicken a lot more when it cools down.



3.- The dressing

STEP 1.- Chop two banana shallots (or four regular ones) and sauté them with 1 tbsp. butter over medium heat for five minutes.

STEP 2 .- Add the bacon bits and the five diced apples and sauté for another five minutes.

STEP 3.- Add the apricots, previously cut into thin slices, the raisins, the pecan nuts and the sweet wine.

STEP 4.- Cook over low heat for 20 minutes, adding stock if the liquid evaporates, or until the apples are soft and the raisins rehydrated.

apple-bacon-dry fruits dressing


4.- The green beans

STEP 1.- Wash and remove tips

STEP 2 .- Make small packages of 10 beans and wrap them with a slice of bacon. Sauté over medium heat with 1 tbsp. butter in a covered pan over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until the bacon is brown.

STEP 3.- Season with salt and pepper

STEP 4.- Keep warm.

green beans


5.- The mashed potatoes

 STEP 1.- Wash the potatoes.

STEP 2 .- In a large pot heat up enough water to cover the potatoes (or add 1 cup of water to pressure cooker). Add salt when boiling.

STEP 3.- Introduce the potatoes and 2 peeled garlic cloves and cook until soft, about 20 minutes in a regular pot, 5-7 in pressure cooker.

boiling potatoes

STEP 4.- When ready, put through food mill or mash. Add 1/3 – ½   cup of butter, ½ cup of evaporated milk and 2 tbsps. grated Parmesan cheese. Serve hot. Add more milk if necessary.

mashed potatoes

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Recipe Name
Christmas Turkey/ Pavo de navidad
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Author: SimpleTapas

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