This Mexican-inspired Achiote Roasted Turkey recipe is rubbed with the classic savory annatto seed paste and citrus, which gives it amazing color and flavor, and then slow roasted to a beautiful red-orange bronze.
Bringing Latin America Home For Thanksgiving
We all have our Thanksgiving favorites.
The dishes we never (okay, hardly ever) eat except on that warm, glowing evening in late November.
Maybe its green bean casserole, maybe cranberries from a can, who knows, nostalgia can be found in a lot of unsuspecting places.
For me it’s mashed potatoes made with starchy Yukon golds, buttermilk, white pepper, and salt and pumpkin pie with loads of freshly whipped cream.
These things are not worth messing with.
But then there are others that could use a little update, a little make-over, maybe some spice.
I think the patron saint of Thanksgiving could use a visit to the warm Latin American beaches of Cancún.
Who wouldn’t rather be lounging in the sand right about now?
So next week when you are staring at that toddler-sized beast in your refrigerator, just think how good it would taste if it had taken a nice long bath in a the deep red achiote paste of Caribbean cuisine.
I can guarantee you no one will complain about this Achiote Roasted Turkey having too much flavor.
What’s Achiote Paste?
We’ve discussed achiote paste here before.
It is a dark red spice mixture made from achiote seeds, garlic, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and other spices and is used mainly in the Yucatán region of Mexico. You can find it at many grocery stores or online.
The achiote or annatto seeds are used as a food colorant in lots of foods, most notably, lending the orange color to Cheddar cheese.
When dried they become brown seeds with not a ton of flavor on their own. When ground, the achiote oil is mainly used as a coloring agent. It’s vibrant color is even used by native cultures as a body paint for spiritual reasons.
When combined with other herbs and spices, it is used to flavor all sorts of chicken, pork or fish dishes across Central and South America where the plants grow.
The most well-known is the pit-roasted pork popular in the Yucatán, Cochinita Pibil as well as many Tacos al Pastor recipes.
How To Make An Achiote Roasted Turkey
This stunner of a turkey is sure to turn heads at the Thanksgiving table, and don’t worry the achiote paste is not spicy, so it’s safe for kids and grandmas alike.
However, there are two details to keep in mind when making this Achiote Roasted Turkey.
- The turkey will need a good 2 days in the marinade, uncovered in the refrigerator, for the achiote to do its magic, so plan accordingly.
- Secondly, the sugar in the marinade will burn at high temperatures, so you’ll have to cook the turkey low and slow, maybe even covering the wing tips, leg bones, and breast with foil to prevent it from burning. You can always turn the heat down in the oven. Even to as low as 225°F, if needed, it just will take longer until it is cooked all the way through—don’t forget your meat thermometer!
How To Keep Your Turkey From Drying Out
The number one complaint about Thanksgiving turkey is that it always turns out dry and not juicy at all (cue this Christmas Vacation scene).
The nice thing about this Achiote Roasted Turkey is the marinade does a lot of the heavily lifting when it comes to keeping the turkey juicy.
The salt and seasoning in the marinade locks in moisture. But there are some basic turkey roasting tips to follow, no matter what marinade you’re using.
- A dry brine is key. Whether you’re using this achiote marinade or just doing a simple salt mixture. Rubbing the turkey at least a day in advance with a dry brine and letting it sit uncovered in the fridge seals the skin and keeps the juices inside the bird as it roasts.
- Let the turkey sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour before roasting. It will cook more evenly throughout.
- Use an Instant-Read thermometer. Insert it into the thickest part of the thigh and take the turkey out when it reads 165°F.
- Put the turkey in the oven legs first. Since the back of the oven is hotter than the front the turkey legs (which take longer to cook) will do better back there.
- Let the turkey rest after you remove it from the oven. It takes about 30 minutes for the juices to fall from the surface of the meat and redistribute to the rest of the turkey.
What To Serve With This Achiote Roasted Turkey
Any of these Latin-inspired Thanksgiving sides would go great with this beautiful bird.
- Jicama Slaw with Ginger Molasses Vinaigrette
- Cranberry-Walnut Jell-O Salad
- Coconut Quinoa with Roasted Squash
- Spicy Chorizo and Poblano Stuffing
Ready For A Turkey Transformation?
If you are full speed ahead in the Achiote Roasted Turkey department I can’t wait to hear how it goes. Make sure you snap a pic of your beautiful bird and tag @holajalapeno and #holajalapeno on Instagram so I can see. Happy Thanksgiving!Print
Achiote Roasted Turkey
This Mexican-inspired Achiote Roasted Turkey recipe is rubbed with savory achiote paste and citrus then slow roasted to a beautiful bronze.
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 3 hours
- Total Time: 4 hours
- Yield: 8-10 Servings 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: Roast
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup achiote paste
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- Fresh-squeezed juice of 1 orange
- 1 whole, fresh 12 pound turkey or thawed if frozen
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 orange, quartered
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally
- Combine salt, achiote paste, brown sugar, and orange juice in a blender. Puree until smooth.
- Rinse turkey and remove the neck and giblets if necessary and pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Place turkey in a roasting pan and pour achiote marinade all over the turkey, rubbing it into the skin on all sides. Let sit, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 48 hours.
- Two hours before you plan to roast the turkey, remove from the refrigerator. Pour any liquid into a bowl for basting, wash the roasting pan and place turkey on a rack inside the clean roasting pan.
- Rub the olive oil over the turkey and stuff with the orange, onion, and garlic, if it won’t all fit inside the turkey you can place it around the turkey in the roasting pan. Let turkey come to room temperature.
- Heat oven to 350°F and arrange a rack on the bottom. Roast turkey for 15 minutes for every pound, so if you are dealing with a 12 pound turkey this should take you about 3 hours. Baste the turkey with the juices you saved, every 15 minutes or so. If the wing tips, legs, or breast are getting too dark, cover with aluminum foil.
- Start taking the temperature of the turkey about an hour before it’s supposed to be done. Insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh and breast. The thigh should read 165°F and breast 160°F when it is done.
- Transfer turkey to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest about 15-30 minutes before carving.
Keywords: achiote roasted turkey
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