Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Turkey #1: Turkey with Cuban Marinade (Mojo)

Now its done!

I bought two small turkeys this year. The first one I'm preparing Cuban style.

For this 12 lb turkey I prepared a mojo (marinade)

10-12 cloves garlic
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lime juice
1 tbsp dry oregano
2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp pepper

A store bought turkey usually brings a bag in the body cavity with the neck and giblets (check the opening on the neck, sometimes there's a bag in there as well). Remove those and rinse your turkey well with cold water.

Prepare your marinade in a bowl by mixing the above ingredients. Pour your marinade over the turkey and into the turkey, use your hand to rub the garlic on the skin. Sprinkle again with salt and paprika (if desired).

Now here's what I do. I put the turkey in a large bowl, breast side down, so that it fits slanted, and I make sure most of the marinade is inside the breast cavity. (If you lay it breast up, the mojo is just going to sit at the bottom of the pan and flavor the back)  Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate 'til Thursday.

Thursday, pre-heat your oven to 325 F. Place your turkey breast side up in a roasting pan. Bake for  approximately 4 hours (for 12 lbs).

The above turkey looks done, but it actually needs about one more hour to become tender. The skin is brown already so I covered the bird loosely with aluminum foil to finish cooking. I don't use thermometers, and although I usually stab the thickest part of the leg with a knife to make sure the liquid come out clear, that does not guarantee that the turkey is done. You have to taste it! I know you don't want to ruin the look of it, so steal a little slice from an inconspicuous place. If it's chewy, baste it with its drippings and put it back in the oven.

Click here for useful information on oven baking times for roasting a turkey


  1. Mmmm...I love mojo marinade, I like to use it with chicken. I always have to use Goya Mojo (it had to be Goya no other brand would do) for salmon, that's the way I could get my daughter to eat salmon...she loves it. Your turkey looks lovely so far. I'll check in for your other turkey later. Hehe!

  2. My sister and grandmother does it almost the same except it's all lime juice (the really acidic mojo goes really really well with it since turkey has a gamey taste) and 2 heads of garlic, then just salt, and oregano.

    To give the bird a special redish brown color, she would add 1/2 can about 4 oz. 1/2 cup tomato sauce to make the Mojo red, you couldnt even taste the tomato it just gave it a reddish color, basting it occasionally.

    Stuffing was already cooked usually Yellow Rice with Shrimp and she would stuff it and tie the birds legs that would cook inside the turkey.

    Sounds wierd but that's how my grandma did it and it was pretty damn good :)

    My older sister omits tomato and stuffing and just cooks it with the strong Mojo.

  3. I have been meaning to post. I tried your recipe last Christmas. I am Nicaraguan-Irish, married to a Cuban and made your recipe exactly, it was so great! I will do this every year now. Gracias!!!!! you are so gracious and generous.

  4. Anonymous, it pleases me to hear such positive feedback. Thank you for posting. The best to you.

  5. I will be making this turkey for Thanksgiving in a couple of days! Can you suggest the best sides to go with it?

  6. Yvonne, if you are making an all Cuban meal, then I suggest you make white rice and black beans, and an avocado salad. For dessert a flan or bread pudding. Just this morning I marinated my Cuban turkey, but with an American family, I have to make the traditional sides of mashed potatoes, green beans, etc.


    Enjoy your holiday, and thank you for stopping by

  7. Yummm! Thanks and I just injected mine and bagged it up! I know it is going to come out nice!

  8. Ivonne,

    Thank you for this recipe. I think I'm going to try it, but I have a couple of questions:

    1. You mentioned injecting in your comment but I don't see that in the recipe. Any additional instructions? (It's Wednesday, so I thought injecting might be a good idea at this late date.)

    2. Any thoughts on roasting this in a roasting box (e.g., La Caja China)?

    Matt in Fort Collins, CO

  9. Anonymous, one of me readers is injecting her turkey.

    It is not a necessary step. I personally have never done it, but if you wish they sell meat injectors that you can fill with the marinade and inject directly into the meat of the turkey.

    I have never made a turkey in a caja china. I cannot give you any advice on that.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  10. Do i cook turkey with marinade? Or set marinade aside and use it as i bast?

  11. Don't forget the cumin! All Cuban mojo has cumin. :) I always blow guests when they have my Cuban style Turkey. I hold very fond memories as a little girl growing up in a Cuban kitchen and the smell of any meats in the oven with mojo marinade! mmmmmmmmmmmm

  12. And if you want to give it a special color and enhance the flavor even more .Coat the skin with Bijol !
    Happy Thanksgiving!