- 12 to 14-pound turkey, preferably fresh and/or organic
For the Achiote Rub:
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon achiote seeds
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
Makes 12 servings, with leftovers
Make the manchamanteles up to 3 days in advance.
Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey. Save them for broth (see Luscious Leftovers). Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold water and drain off as much water as possible. Blot the turkey dry inside and out with a wad of paper towels.
Make the achiote rub and season the turkey:
Heat the olive oil and achiote seeds in a small skillet over low heat until the seeds are sizzling and the oil begins to darken. Let the seeds sizzle one minute, then strain the oil into a small heatproof bowl. With a garlic press, press the garlic cloves into the oil. (Adding the garlic to the hot oil mellows it out a little bit and takes out the “sting.”) Stir in the salt and pepper and let the oil cool to room temperature.
Loosen the skin over the breasts and as much of the legs as you can by working your fingers gently in between the meat and skin. Flip the turkey over and do the same to as much of the skin over the back as you can. Using your fingers, work the achiote rub into the meat under all the loosened skin and inside the cavity of the turkey. Truss the turkey legs with kitchen twine and smear any remaining rub over the turkey skin.
Put the turkey breast side down on a rack in a roasting pan and refrigerate uncovered for up to 24 hours (the longer the better). Refrigerating the turkey helps dry the skin, making it crispier after roasting.
Cook and serve the turkey:
Take the turkey out to room temperature about 30 minutes before you plan to cook it. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425 F.
Pour 1 cup water into the roasting pan. Roast the turkey breast side down 45 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 375 F. Continue roasting until an instant reading thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh away from any bones registers 155 F, about 14 minutes per pound (or 3 ¼ hours for a 14 pound turkey) total cooking time. About 30 minutes before the turkey is done, turn it breast side up on the rack. (A pair of oven mitts that you’re willing to toss into the laundry basket afterwards is a good way to turn the turkey. The turkey will continue to cook and the temperature to rise after taking it out of the oven. The final temperature you’re looking for is 165 F. The joint where the wing connects to the breastbone is another good place to check the temp.) Let the turkey stand about 30 minutes before carving.
Of course, leftover turkey is half the reason people love Thanksgiving!
Prepare a Latin version of the classic American day-after-Thanksgiving sandwich filled with turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy, and stuffing by piling sliced turkey, leftover manchamanteles, and cornbread stuffing into a split length of soft Italian bread.
Or, substitute sliced turkey for smoked turkey.
Make a delicious broth with the picked over turkey carcass:
Put the carcass along with a few peeled and coarsely chopped carrots, celery stalks, and small onions into a roasting pan. Scatter several garlic cloves and a few sprigs of fresh thyme over the vegetables. Roast in a 400F oven until the vegetables start to brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer everything from the roasting pan into a pot large enough to hold it comfortably. Pour in enough cold water to cover and bring to a boil. Let it boil for a few minutes, skimming off the foam and fat as it rises to the surfaces. Adjust the heat so the broth is at a bare simmer and cook for 3 to 4 hours, skimming occasionally. Strain the broth and enrich it with cooked white beans and calabaza plain cooked rice, or tiny pasta shapes. Any of these soups would be better off with a little shredded leftover turkey added to them. The pasta version would be nice with a little grated Parmesan cheese.