Saturday, November 23, 2013

Free Range Friday ~ Culebra's Turkey Run and Turkey Too

The Turkey Run (or, ungrammatically correctly the Pavo Cerrera, which I am afraid will come out as the running of the turkeys and it certainly was not) is my favorite event all year. Of course, I also say that about the parade of paso fino's. But there is something about this run, its inclusion of all ages, lots of family participation, and general joy of the community turnout that really makes me happy and says Culebra to me in bold neon letters. As bold as the sneakers that flew by in sizes from baby 0 to men's 12's.

 Somewhere about here my camera battery died and I started using my phone. My bad.

These last are the worst, but how can I not include them?

I didn't stay around for the awarding of the turkeys to the winners but there will be some extra birds on tables around the island with some big smiles for dessert.

Looking for something different for your Thanksgiving Day turkey? I know, it's all about tradition but some traditions could use a little shaking up and Cajun Spiced turkey will do just that.

This is not Cajun Spiced turkey but it was something different from the year I brined and smoked a bird for our get-together Turkey Dinner. Yes, it was awesome.
Cajun Spiced Turkey (adapted from a bunch of recipes!)

This is for an 8- 10 pound turkey. If you have a bigger one, you can double the ingredients.

Make sure you have some butter and some olive oil standing by.

Ok, let us begin!

First, you need to put together your Cajun spice - this can keep a long time in the fridge, sealed, so it can be made early. Like today.
  • 5 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika 
  • (regular if you can't get smoked - smoked is better and hot smoked better yet)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin  
For underneath the turkey, you want to roughly chop up

1 large carrot
2 celery stalks
1 large onion

What goes inside the turkey? Well, your Grandma's stuffing recipe if you must, but what about trying
1 peeled crisp apple
2 green onions
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon Cajun Spice Rub
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 jalapeno pepper

and do this with it (once you've removed the giblets and neck and rinsed the turkey, organic I hope, inside and out)

Cut the apple into large pieces, seed (if you don't want as much heat) and cut jalapeno into strips, dice green onion and halve garlic cloves.
Add one teaspoon oil to saute pan over medium heat and add all ingredients.
Toss to coat and saute just until fragrant and tender, about 5 minutes.
With tongs, remove ingredients from pan and insert most of the mixture into body cavity and a small amount into neck cavity.

And here is where I go off road. The giblets are sauteed with lots of onion and garlic and the neck goes into a small pot of water on a low heat. Part of the giblets get used in what we call Poor Man's Pate. Finely chopping or giving them a whirl in a food processor, fast because it should be slightly rough, then served with crackers, with the rest put in the stuffing mix. This might be a Jewish Cajun thing. The neck goes to the cat, or your neighbor's cat. It must go to a cat though. The water from cooking the neck can be used in the stuffing and/or the gravy; it is now officially broth.

Tuck in the wings and tie the legs with butcher twine, place the turkey in the pan on the rough cut veggies. Rub the bird with a tablespoon of butter and sprinkle on your chosen amount of the Cajun Spice mix. Put that beauty in a 325 degree pre-heated oven for about 2 1/2 hours, roughly 15 minutes per pound. Remember, this is for a 10 pound turkey, adjust your cooking time to the size of your turkey.

I'm big on basting while cooking the turkey (obviously, I don't buy self-basting turkeys) because I like to play with my food and it makes me feel virtuous when out comes this amazing golden brown bird. Plus, opening the oven lets out a mouth watering aroma to all within smelling zone of the oven, which is part of Thanksgiving.

Let it rest about 10 minutes before carving. While you are letting it rest, you can make an awesome spicy gravy from the pan drippings.

Buen provecho!!

Have a feasible Friday. Do something flexible.


  1. How wonderful and sweet. Turkey recipe sounds great, I love trying something new. Only comment, last couple of turkeys I've done, I bake turkey breast side down until the last 30 minutes. Then turn over and turn up temp to 400 to crisp skin. Most of the fat is in the back, so as it bakes the fat melts and goes through the meat making the breast and rest very moist.

    1. I tried that once, it worked pretty well, except turning it over was a bit awkward. One reason I'm so into basting is to keep the bird moist, so far so good! I'm also not sure all natural birds, as in organic, have the same fat content, but it would be interesting to find out.