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
- Kitchen string
For the turkey
For Dina’s potato stuffing
- 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1‑inch cubes
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more if needed
- 3/4 pound ground sweet Italian pork sausage
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Reserved turkey liver, chopped
- 2 large egg yolks, beaten
- 1/2 cup whole milk, plus more if needed
- Healthy pinch ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
For Avó Costa’s bread stuffing
- 1/4 pound thick-sliced slab bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 pound chouriço, linguica, or dry-cured smoked Spanish chorizo, roughly chopped
- Olive oil, if needed
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2/3 cup dry white wine
- 3 tablespoons Amped-Up Red Pepper Paste
- 2 tablespoons double-concentrate tomato paste, or three tablespoons regular store-bought or homemade tomato paste
- 12 cups 3/4-inch (18-mm) cubes of day-old rustic bread
- About 2 cups homemade beef stock plus 1 cup water or 3 cups store-bought low-sodium broth
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
For the gravy (optional, seeing as it’s not the Portuguese way, but so worthwhile)
- Up to 3 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
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.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.