Salvadoran Roasted Spiced Turkey

This Mexican chile pepper is called “Chilaca” when used fresh. In California the Poblano chile is often called Pasilla. Since most of these are bought and distributed from California this mislabeling often carries over into the supermarkets nationwide causing alot of confusion. This chile is very mild and is usually consumed in the dry form to make the famous Mexican ‘mole’ sauces.

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1 fresh hen turkey (about 15 pounds)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/3 cup prepared mustard
1/8 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried thyme


1-1/4 cups sesame seeds
1/3 cup pepitoria (julled pumpkin seeds)
3 dried chiles pasillas, stems removed
8 bay leaves
8 whole cloves
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 slices French bread
3 medium white onions, peeled
8 cloves garlic, peeled


To prepare the turkey:

Remove the giblets from the turkey cavity and set them aside for another use. Rinse the bird under some cold running water and pat the bird dry. In a small bowl, mix the butter, mustard, vinegar, salt and thyme to form a paste, then rub the turkey, inside and out, with the paste. Refrigerate the turkey covered until ready to use.

To toast the ingredients:

Heat a lightly greased griddle or comal over medium heat and toast the sesame and pumpkin seeds. Stir them frequently, being careful not to burn them, then place them in a medium bowl. Toast the chiles pasillas, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon stick, oregano and thyme, stirring until they are lightly colored and fragrant.

As the ingredients are toasted, place them in the bowl with the toasted seeds and pour 3 cups of boiling water over the ingredients. Cover and soak them for 15 minutes. In small batches, grind the toasted ingredients in a blender container or in the work bowl of a food processor until they are completely smooth.

To roast the ingredients:

Toast the bread until dry and crush it into crumbs (you should have about 3/4 cup). Place the tomatoes and onions on a heated griddle and roast, turning as needed, until the tomatoes have blackened and the onions are lightly charred. In a blender container, puree the bread crumbs, tomatoes, onion and garlic until smooth.

To finish the recaido sauce:

Stir the tomato puree into the toasted seed paste until well blended, then combine with 3 quarts of water and mix thoroughly . If the recaido is not completely smooth, strain it through a wire mesh sieve.

To Roast the turkey:

Place the turkey in a roasting pan and roast it breast side up in a preheated 375F oven for about 20 minutes, then turn the breast side down and continue roasting for an additional 15 minutes. Pour the recaido sauce over the turkey and continue roasting the bird at 350F for about 3-1/2 hours, basting it often, until the turkey is completely cooked. Carve the turkey and serve with plenty of the sauce.

Recipe from “El Salvador and I.”