Portuguese Roast Turkey

George Mendes's turkey is beer soaked, smoky and sweet
49 Ratings
100% would make again
George Mendes Portuguese Roast Turkey
Photo: Saint Hereford 

This year, we're swapping a couple of our traditional Thanksgiving dishes for something new with recipes like this smoky, sweet and beer-drunk turkey from chef George Mendes of Lupulo in New York City.

If you want to go above and beyond with your cooking method for this bird, forget the dramatic presentation and follow Mendes's suggestion: Remove the whole bird from the oven when the breasts reach just under 160°. Carve them off, then return the whole turkey to the oven and cook until the thighs reach 160° as well. The residual cooking time will carry the internal temperature from 160° to 165°, the perfect temperature for a juicy Thanksgiving turkey.

Spanish sweet paprika is crimson in color with an intense smoky flavor. It's worth seeking out for this holiday centerpiece bird, but if you can't find it, substitute two tablespoons of sweet paprika and two tablespoons of smoked paprika.

To learn more, read "Hoppy Thanksgiving."

Portuguese Roast Turkey

Recipe adapted from chef George Mendes, Aldea and Lupulo, NYC

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus brining and marinating time

Cook Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes to 3 hours

Total Time: 2 hours and 50 minutes to 3 hours and 30 minutes, plus brining and marinating time


For the Spiced Brine:

6 quarts (24 cups) water

6 cups sugar

4 cups kosher salt

12 cloves

8 pieces star anise

6 bay leaves, torn in half

3 cinnamon sticks

3 tablespoons white peppercorns

2 tablespoons fennel seeds

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

For the Paprika Marinade:

3 cups olive oil

1½ cups lager (such as Sagres)

3 tablespoons Spanish sweet paprika

½ yellow onion, thinly sliced

7 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 fresh bay leaves, torn

For the Turkey:

One 10-to-12-pound turkey, giblets removed and neck reserved

2 red onions, peeled and cut into 1½-inch pieces

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1½-inch pieces

2 bay leaves, torn

1 tablespoon kosher salt

¼ cup marinade, plus more for basting


1. Brine the turkey: In a large pot, combine the brine ingredients and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar and salt have dissolved, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and chill, uncovered, in the fridge until cool, about 1 hour. Make ahead: Once chilled, the brine can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

2. Rinse the turkey and neck, and place inside a 5-gallon container (or a large cooler). Pour the chilled brine over the turkey and top with a heavy plate, submerging the turkey. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the paprika marinade ingredients. Make ahead: The marinade can be made and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.

4. Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse under cold water. Discard the brine. Rinse out the 5-gallon container and return the turkey to it. Pour the paprika marinade over the turkey, rubbing all over the outside and the inner cavity; cover and chill in refrigerator for 8 to 10 hours.

5. Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven, and preheat it to 400°.

6. Cut off the turkey's wing tips, reserving them, and tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Combine the turkey neck, wing tips, red onions, carrots and bay leaves in a large roasting pan. Place the turkey on top, breast-side up, and rub with the salt and ¼ cup of the marinade.

7. Roast the turkey in the preheated oven until the skin is browned, 40 to 50 minutes, basting the bird and rotating the pan halfway through roasting, covering any dark spots with aluminum foil.

8. Lower the oven to 300°. Baste the turkey with marinade and pour 1 cup of water into the pan, creating steam to help cook the turkey. Continue to roast the turkey, rotating the pan and basting every 30 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reaches just under 160°, 1½ to 2 hours. Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest in the roasting pan for 30 minutes before carving. Serve with the pan drippings and roasted vegetables.

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