Portuguese Turkey with Two Stuffings

Portuguese turkey with two stuffings is a duet of beloved and traditional Portuguese stuffings: a chouriço-bread dressing with spicy sausage, onions, garlic, crushed red pepper, and paprika and another dressing with sweet sausage, potato, butter, nutmeg, and spices.

A Portuguese roast turkey with two stuffings in white bowls with a spoon resting in one of the bowls.

This is the same paprika-sprinkled Portuguese turkey that I grew up with. My grandmother Costa always rubbed her poultry with salt and let it sit in the fridge for several hours prior to roasting, believing that it drew out impurities. Her ritual is similar to the koshering process, in which poultry is coated with salt and later rinsed several times. The benefit—voodoo aside—is a bird that’s juicy and richly flavorful. That’s why I insist you buy a kosher turkey. And I’m offering you a couple different Portuguese stuffings. Because one is never enough.–David Leite

☞ READ THE ARTICLE: A TALE OF TWO PORTUGUESE STUFFINGS

Portuguese Turkey with Two Stuffings

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  • (1)
  • 1 H
  • 3 H
  • Serves 8
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Special Equipment: Kitchen string

Ingredients

  • For the turkey
  • For Dina's potato stuffing
  • For Avó Costa's bread stuffing
  • For the gravy (optional, seeing as it's not the Portuguese way, but so worthwhile)

Directions

Roast the turkey

Position a rack in the bottom of the oven and crank up the heat to 425°F (218°C).

Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Rub the inside of the cavity with the cut side of 1 wedge of orange and 1 wedge of lemon and then toss them in the cavity. Generously season the cavity with salt and pepper and then stuff it with the remaining wedges and the bay leaves. Tuck the wing tips beneath the bird, as if it were folding its arms behind its head, and tie the legs together with kitchen string.

In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter, paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Brush about half of the butter mixture over the turkey. Place the bird, breast side down, on a V-rack set in a roasting pan.

Slip the turkey into the oven, pour 2 cups of water into the pan, and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F (176°C), flip the bird breast side up, and brush with some of the remaining butter mixture.

Continue roasting the turkey, brushing it every 30 minutes with the butter mixture, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F (74°C), 1 1/2 to 2 hours more. Tent the bird with foil if it’s browning too quickly.

Transfer the turkey to a serving platter and let stand, tented, for 20 minutes. Although it’s not the custom in Portugal, you can make gravy.

Make Dina’s potato stuffing

While the turkey roasts, toss the potatoes in a large pot of cold water. Add 1 tablespoon salt, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes, return half of them to the pot, and mash well with a handheld masher or a fork. Set the rest of the potatoes aside and cover to keep warm.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, warm the butter until it melts and the foaming subsides. Crumble in the ground sausage and cook, breaking up the clumps, until well browned, 10 to 12 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop the sausage into the pot with the mashed potatoes and set that aside for the moment. Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium and, if the skillet seems dry, add a little more butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 12 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add the chopped reserved liver and cook, stirring, until browned, about 3 minutes more. Scoop the mixture into the pot with the mashed potatoes.

Whisk the yolks and milk into the potato mixture until smooth; if the dressing seems too thick, whisk in more milk. Place the pot over medium heat and stir until the yolks are cooked, about 3 minutes. Fold in the reserved potatoes, sprinkle in the nutmeg and parsley, and season well with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.

Make Avó Costa’s bread stuffing

While the turkey roasts, warm a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring often, until the bacon is crisp and the fat has rendered, 12 to 15 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels. Pour off all but a thin film of fat from the pot into a cup. Bump up the heat to medium-high, add the chourico, and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a bowl. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat, adding it to the bacon fat. If the Dutch oven seems dry, add 2 tablespoons of oil.

Lower the heat to medium, add the onions, and cook until softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute more. Splash in the wine, add the red pepper paste and tomato paste, and stir to scrape up any stuck-on bits. Then let everything burble for a few minutes to cook the mixture.

Turn the heat to low, add the bread and the reserved bacon and chourico fats, and pour in just enough of the stock-water combination, beating well with a spoon, to make the mixture moist. If you use all the liquid and the pot is still dry, add water as necessary. Fold in the bacon and chourico and continue beating to lighten the mixture. Take a taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Scoop the dressing into a bowl and sprinkle with the parsley.

Make the gravy (not traditional but knock yourself out if you’d like!)

Spoon off and discard the fat from the surface of the juices in the roasting pan. Place the pan over 2 burners and add enough homemade chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium broth to the juices in the pan to equal 3 cups. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat, scraping the bottom to loosen any browned bits.

In a small bowl, blend together the butter and flour until a smooth paste forms. Whisking constantly, slowly add the paste to the liquid in the roasting pan and whisk until the gravy thickens and no floury taste remains, 5 to 10 minutes. Strain and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the turkey and dressing(s)

When you’re ready to sit down to dinner, plate the turkey, scoop the dressings into decorative bowls, and take everything to the table pronto. Originally published November 17, 2012.

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Comments

  1. I was searching the internet for my mother’s Portuguese inspired chourico stuffing recipe. The twist I don’t see here is that she actually put the stuffing inside the turkey cavity while roasting the bird. Oh my, did it come out nice, moist, and flavorful. Can I place this bread/chourico stuffing inside the bird to cook together?? Thank you so much.

  2. This is one of the juiciest and most flavorful turkeys I’ve ever had. This year David brined the bird in a salt, brown sugar, lemon, and orange brine. As a cook who always brines chickens for at least 12, and up to 24, hours, I was surprised that he achieved the same result (and maybe, just maybe better) with a bigger bird that was brined for only 8 hours. Although you won’t get an overwhelming citrus flavor, whatever happened in the big enamel pot worked deliciously.

    The dressing. I just love Vo Costa’s dressing. It has that authentic Portuguese flavor of some of the best dishes Mamma Leite makes.

    1. Um, excuse me, love? But “just maybe”? I think my turkeys were head and shoulders (or rather neck and waddle) above your chicken. Take heed, little man, and you will become a much better cook. Take heed.

      1. Ah, the ghost of spellchecks past. 😉 Sometimes their changes are hysterically funny, and sometimes they’re just wrong. I used to swear I was going to keep track of some of the funnier ones and publish a book. At least waddle could have something to do with a bird. Heh.

        1. And what’s worse, I think I used the dictation program on my Mac, so it might have heard wattle but wrote waddle. And I was none the wiser because I never see my typos. Just ask Renee….

          1. Oy! Dragon! I was born and raised in San Francisco and the Sonoma/Napa wine country, so, basically no accent. Yet when I try to use Dragon…well, it was an amazing thing. A letter to a friend came out being about gangs riotiing. Talk about making wild guesses. Spellchecks have nothing on Dragon. 😉

          2. Ruthie, gangs rioting. Hysterical. The new Mac dictation is really good, but Siri has learned my voice over these past two years, so maybe that’s why.

      2. Don’t you love the way holidays bring families together and loved ones closer? LOL!

        I brined a duck with a sugar-salt brine with Lapsang Souchong tea in it once. I wanted to do the slow roast, skin basting kind of treatment like Peking Duck, but in my oven. It came out pretty good — the flesh had a little halo of darker color near the skin from the tea and just a hint of smokiness. I might try that again with more tea next time. I was afraid to make it too smokey for a first try. I don’t think I’d use it for any bird that didn’t have all that fat under it’s skin, though, might really overwhelm the flavors of a chicken, for example…although a turkey just might do it. Can you imagine all that gorgeous turkey skin crackling with flavor and crispness???

        And, er, David…it’s “wattle.” 😉 Once an editor, always an editor.

  3. I sometimes put oysters in my stuffing (dressing, actually), chopped up, often with hot Italian sausage, and I moisten it with broth. Everyone goes crazy for it. However, the one time I told people there were oysters in it, almost no one even tasted it. Wusses. 😉

    It makes a very rich and spicy side for a change. I made dressing for a goose once (someone else was cooking the goose) and did the oysters, sausage and some chopped up prunes. Great with that stronger flavored meat.

    1. Oh Ruthie, I love oyster dressing, and sausage dressing – to be perfectly honest, all almost dressings. Hurry up Thanksgiving!

  4. Happy Thanksgiving to all! I love stories like this, family and cultural tales behind the history of dishes and mealtime traditions. Sadly, we sat down to the same American Thansgiving meal year after year of turkey with Pepperidge Farm stuffing, sweet potato casserole made with orange juice and tiny marshmallows… no stories and even very few memories it was so bland. Maybe that is why I love other people’s stories so much.

      1. David, we never celebrated it here in France. In France we go French all the way, in the US we do American. But oddly enough, this year my older son asked if I would cook a Thanksgiving meal. He asked the day after the holiday and he is still waiting so I may do it next week. But they feel no connection to the whole T Day story and pilgrim thing.

  5. Hi, David. My Ávo and mom always made a turkey for Thanksgiving, although they never ate turkey growing up in Portugal because it was expensive. My Ávo would make an all-meat stuffing and STUFF it in the bird, then cook it. She would save up scraps of meat and freeze them, then pull them out for the big day and put them through a meat grinder. It was like a croquette but made into stuffing. I also remember alot of lemon–both in the stuffing and in the gravy. It was the BEST stuffing. What I wouldn’t give to have a taste of that meat stuffing again!

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