Bring a new twist to your Thanksgiving table by making this delicious no-brine Persian Spiced Turkey. It’s juicy, tasty and filled with aromatic spices that will take your Thanksgiving dinner to a whole new world!
I finally made a turkey for this blog!
This year, I’m all about Thanksgiving! With this amazing cranberry apple sauce and the irresistible sweet potato casserole, one important thing that is left is the star of thanksgiving: turkey! Hopefully, this is going to be one of the many Thanksgiving turkeys I will make through years for Unicorns in the Kitchen. I’m so excited to share this with you, for a few reasons:
- It’s really, really delicious. The leftovers are even better.
- I want to tell you the story of my first Thanksgiving turkey (this is my second turkey!)
- This turkey is so easy to make. I mean, if I can make it, I bet you can make it!
- Friends! Everything about Thanksgiving for me is linked to “Friends”.
“These are my Thanksgiving Pants!”
One of my favorite episodes is the throwback one, where Joey gets his head stuck in the turkey. (That is just so Joey!)
I made my first turkey in 2014, in Istanbul. It was the first Thanksgiving Kyle and I had together. We only had a toaster oven at home and there was no way I could fit a turkey in a toaster oven, so I went to our local butcher who was supposed to bring me a turkey and asked him if he knows someone who can roast my turkey. And he did know a place who would do that for me:
A Turkish pizza shop with a gigantic wooden oven! I’m not kidding! Their oven was actually this huge hole with fire coming from the sides. That turkey turned out to be amazing.
But this Persian Spiced Turkey is even more amazing!
This was an eleven-pound turkey and it is totally enough for 4-6 people for thanksgiving. I bet you all know this, but as a side note I should mention that it’s best to buy the turkey a couple of days before roasting. The morning that I made this turkey, I made sure that the inside was completely clean. I pat dried the skin completely and then made a compound butter with butter, chili pepper, cumin and cinnamon. I rubbed the compound butter under the skin all over the turkey, especially the breast. This will keep the meat nice and juicy.
Next I stuffed the turkey with chopped carrots, onions, bell pepper, garlic and celery and sewed the opening completely. I basically stuffed the turkey with as many of them as I could and placed the rest in the pan around turkey in. These vegetables added a lot of flavor to the juice of the turkey!
Then I made a mixture using olive oil, turmeric, bloomed saffron and paprika. I brushed the turkey with this mixture and it gave the turkey a natural beautiful golden color.
I cooked this Persian spiced turkey for about 3 1/2 hours. The first hour I cooked it uncovered and then I covered it with an aluminum foil while it was being cooked. I also brushed it with spiced olive oil every 1 1/2 hours and basted it every hour. The turkey stays super moist even if you don’t baste it, but I like basting my turkey so I did so.
Once the turkey was completely cooked (insert the thermometer between the thigh and the leg, it should reach 165F) I took it out of the oven, covered it with aluminum foil and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving. This will help the juice to stay inside the turkey.
Alright, let’s talk about the garnish and goodies around the turkey!
I made Persian caramelized walnuts (photo below, top right next to pomegranates). It’s a combination of onions, walnuts, barberries, turmeric, pomegranate molasses, salt and pomegranate arils). This makes a delicious side for the turkey. I also had pomegranates, because they just make everything better and the flavor combination is beyond great. The rest is basically any herbs and vegetables you have at hand. I used cute colorful tomatoes, olives, thyme and rosemary.
I know Thanksgiving is all about traditions, and my tradition is to make something new each year! You’ll love this Persian spiced turkey, I promise!
- 1 turkey (Mine was 11 pounds), thawed, cleaned and pat dried completely
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3 large carrots, chopped
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 3 lemons, cut into quarters
- 3 onions, cut into quarters
- 10 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 cup bloomed saffron
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup barberries (substitute with chopped dried cranberries if barberries are not available)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare your roasting pan.
- Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl, using your hands, create space between the meat and the skin on the turkey and rub the compound butter everywhere under the skin and on the meat, especially the breast.
- Mix all the ingredients, stuff the turkey and sew it completely. Spread the rest on the filling vegetable at the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, brush it all over the turkey completely. Place the turkey in the roasting pan and roast in the oven for one hour. Then cover it with aluminum foil and roast for another 2 1/2 hours. After 30 minutes brush it with olive oil mixture again and also baste every hour. 30 minutes before it's done, brush with olive oil one more time.
- Insert a thermometer between the thigh and the leg, it should reach 165F and then the turkey is done.
- Cover with aluminum foil for 30 minutes and then carve.
- Heat olive oil in a pan, saute onion until translucent. Add in walnuts and stir for a minute. Add in the barberris, turmeric, salt and pomegranate molasses and cook for two minutes. Turn the heat off and add pomegranate arils.
- Serve the turkey with Persian Caramelized Walnuts.