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!

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  14. By the way if you want her recipe for oxtails in wine or crabs or game hens as well I can share those as well. I need to find out how to cook boliche stuffed with chorizo can't get that one and I love it. So if you have a recipe please share it. Ohh my and Gizo de maiz man do I miss her food.

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  16. Sorry one more thing...I want to make Cuban tamles but don't want to do the masa like my mom did...grate the corn, cook on stove incorporating the arina de maiz slowly until the right consistency, oil, salt, water etc...is there an easier way to do this with the sane taste? Yeah I know...Nooo, but almost the same I would appreciate any suggestions on that. Thanks

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  18. While I enjoyed reading your recipe the mentioning from one of your readers to include cumin is totally necessary for the mojo marinade. I personally have never cooked a whole turkey like you mentioned. My mom always cuts up the turkey in pieces medium to large, does the marinade on turkey and in frig for two days or longer at times, each piece is browned and set aside till all finished. Then she proceeds to make a sofrito with same seasonings excluding the acidic ones, adds tomato sauces cans according to size of turkey, let's it simmer a bit, incorporates the turkey into the sauce making sure each piece is coated with sauce. Oops forgot the most important ingredient... Vino Seco and bay leaves in sauce when simmering. Careful with the Vino Seco as it has a lot of salt and if you over salt the turkey can't eat it. The large pot is on stove over medium to light flame for 3-3.5 hrs depending on amount of turkey your cooking. Stir occasionally to make sure all pieces are being cooked. After 3 hrs take a sample to see if cooked well almost falling if bone but not to that extent. Do not stir to rough as the meat will start separating and you wind up with shredded turkey. You want it soft but still on the bone so you can suck every juice in it. Make sure sauce covers turkey half way in pot or more as when simmering it starts to condense and you want some if the sauce to put over the rice and black beans, fried plantains, yucca con mojo, my my you'll be licking the plate. My mother was a master in the kitchen cooking traditional Cuban food. Nothing she made went uneaten. Im sorry I did not make the time to master it as she but I got the basic idea on what it should smell like while cooking and the taste mist of all. Trial and error is how I learned as well. Cuban food is not easy to Cook, time consuming but worth every minute. Enjoy the recipe you won't regret it I promise. Blessings to all and Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. Please see my request below....would love to hear about your oxtail recipe!

  19. would love to hear your oxtail recipe! rabo!!!! please share!!!!

  20. getting ready to marinate my 12# turkey with cuban mojo....lots of fresh chopped garlic, oregano, cumin (don't forget cumin), salt and pepper. will mix fresh orange juice and lime juice for the naranja agria.....and let it sit from late tonight (monday going into tuesday) to thursday morning. Nothing like a cuban turkey and watch your gringo friends say WOW

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  22. Hi Marie sorry just saw your message.I would be more than happy to share the oxtail recipe with you.

    Basically you make the Cuban marinade without the acidic ingredients. After cleaning the oxtail making sure to remove all excess water from meat....take the marinade and with your hands incorporate it thru all the meat. The more marinade the better. Let sit in Frig from morning till just before cooking. You'll need about two hrs or so for cooking time. Don't forget the domino as that is essential in the mojo. Now when ready to start cooking take the oxtsils and place in a good pot that will keep the moisture in well. Size of pot determined by amount of oxtails being cooked. You will need yo by some Burgundy wine. The wine is added to the oxtails enough to cover them. Again the amount of wine is determined by amount of oxtails. Just remember that it has to cover them in pot. Put about 2-3 bayleafs in pot, a bit of vino second by el Munro found in most Hispanic stores and some american stores in Spanish isle. Careful with the vino second as it has a lot of salt. I'd say about 1/4 - 1/2 cup at most for large pot. Make sure to stir it well with wine and oxtails. Turn on high until it starts to boul, stirring occasionally to make sure all the oxtails have the flavoring of wine. Turn down to simmering heat medium...cover pot completely very important. Check periodically and stir as well occasionally. Check after 2 hrs to see if it is tender...you want it tender but still on bone as if over cooked it will turn to mush meat. You can still eat it but not the same when your sucking the juice if the bone. You should have about 1/4 if the wine left in pot and you can put the sauce over the white rice and black beans...thus us a must for the complete dish.

    If you want less sauce you can turn it back on high until it condences to the amount if sauce left.

    One thing try to get good quality oxtails... Meaning not to much fat around the meat...if it has a lot trim it off carefully not to waste the meat. You need some fat on it but not a lot. Some oxtails are wrapped in all fat you don't want that as the sauce will become greasy and doesn't taste good.

    As stated previously white rice, black beans, platanos maduros as well. Some people Luke it a bit spicy and if you want you can add a jalapeño or California Chile when cooking but be careful as some if the peppers are really hot especially with the seeds.

    Experiment slowly one large one the first time. You want it hotter two the next time till you fund your tolerance level but most important is not to over take the mojo flavoring and wine. We buy Gallo brand burgundy wine or what ever us on sale at the time.

    Well hope you enjoy the recipe and let me know how you liked it. Mama is probably rolling in her grave...saying "Nina porque led estas dando mi receta" but what better way to acknowledge her and memory with her delicious cooking. Have a Blessed Holiday season. Ohh and if you want a recipe for pierna de lechon, pork roast or whole leg of pork for Noche Buena let me know. You'll love it. Take care.

  23. Sorry Marie for the misspelled words. Auto correct and I forget to check before sending. If you don't understand let me know. Like where it says domino it is cumin but in Spanish comino.

  24. Sorry Marie for the misspelled words. Auto correct and I forget to check before sending. If you don't understand let me know. Like where it says domino it is cumin but in Spanish comino.

  25. Sorry Marie for the misspelled words. Auto correct and I forget to check before sending. If you don't understand let me know. Like where it says domino it is cumin but in Spanish comino.