Turkey a la Brasa

OK here goes...its Thanksgiving and we just can't take the same old bird this year. Its 2009...it's about time we get our 'Thanksgiving Mojo on' and roast some bird...no matter how big.

Turkey is a challenge because ...well....it's Freakin' Huge!

Ok...so lets take a step back: The classic Pollo a la Brasa recipe could not possibly penitrate the massivness that is the North American Turkey. How can we get to the soul of this meat without over marinading?....ah....BRINE!!

Because we are brining the bird in advance of applying the Pollo a la Brasa paste; we'll make a couple of adjustments: First, we will dial back the salt in the paste recipe. Next we'll want to replace the traditional Pollo a la Brasa Aromatics with those more reminicent of a North American Thanksgiving. Let us know if you had the balls to switch it up this year and took your turkey to the Brasa. Please experiment and let us know how it goes. Remember one thing as always: this is supposed to be a paste, so keep you liquids to a minimum. In our Substitutions section, we offer some tips on how to acheive the best results from even the humble oven. In this section we also offer alternatives to other hard to come by ingredients.



  • 1 (12 to 16 pound) turkey
The Brine
  • 1 cuo kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 gallon Veg Stock
  • 1 tablespoon Whole Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1/2 tablespoon Candied Ginger
  • 1 Gallon Ice Water
The Paste
  • 3 tablespoons huacatay (many substitues - check substitutions)
  • 2 tablespoon rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons sage
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • teaspoons Ground Achiote(Annato) (substitute Paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon aji (either fresh or minced fresh - check substitutions)
  • lemon juice from 2 lemons
  • 3 tablespoons garlic paste (about 4 garlic cloves grated)
  • 1/2 cup beer (dark lager(but..any ale will do.))
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil for the grill


  • Upright or Immersion Blender (or mortar and pestle)
  • Grill with rotisserie or a grill setup for indirect grilling
  • Chef's Knives
  • Grill Utensils
  • Spray water bottle for flare-ups
  • Cutting Board
  • Meat Thermometer


    Turkey a la Brasa

  1. Step 1

    Combine all Brine ingredients in a pot except the ice water and bring to a boil.

  2. Step 2

    Stir to disolve solids. Remove from heat

  3. Step 3

    Rinse the Turkey well inside out, pat dry, cut off excess fat, tuck the wings<

  4. Step 4

    Cool. Late at night immerse Turkey in Brint with the remainig Ice. Store in a cool place for 6-12 hours<./p>

  5. Step 5

    Combine the remaining ingredients in an upright mixer (or in a bowl if using an Immersion blender)

  6. Step 6

    Pulse mixture until you have a paste. If necessary, thin the mixture with water or more lemon juice.

    Step 7

    Taste it. Add more lemon juice, beer, and salt accordingly. Remember to keep the salt to a minimum because of the Brine.

  7. Step 7

    Rub the turkey with mixture inside and out, making sure you covered all parts of the turkey. Flavoring cannot naturally penetrate turkey skin. Where ever possible, it is important to seperate the skin and apply the paste directly to the meat.

  8. Step 8

    Seal them up in a large zip-top bag (or in a large bowl covered in plastic wrap) and put them in the fridge for 4-6 hours.

  9. Step 7

    Prepare your Grill (or Oven if you are a Thanksgiving purist). We of course like to use wood char rather than gas, but use what you have. In our "Alternative Methods" section, we even explore Deep Fried Pollo. But for now, we'll stick to the Brasa bro. If you lack a Grill Rotisserie, you will need to setup your grill for indirect grilling*. Be careful not to 'smoke' the turkey. We are not here to smoke anything. The best Pollo a la Brasa has a slight charcoal flavor but NOT a smokey flavor.
    *See tips below

  10. Step 8

    Maintain the pollo and the fire. It will take in a semi-open grill about 1 hour to 1 1/4 of an hour at medium heat (180 - 200 degrees F.) on an open Grill will take a little longer and temperature must be between 200 - 240 degrees F. The Turkey should be about 12 inches away from fire at least. Much of this depends on your grill and your personal experience, so feel free to experiment. If you are using a rotiserrie, you may want to have the coals closer. Remove the bird from the Grill and place on a large cutting board when it has reached an internal temperature slightly over 170 degrees*.
    *See tips below

  11. Step 9

    When the bird has sat for 10 minutes, quarter the bird with a butcher knife and serve with the condiments, maybe some french fries, and who knows...maybe a salad.
    See our post on quatering chicken here

    • We've tried making stuffing on the grill and it NEVER works out...don't even bother. Unless you like sloppy bread that tastes like smoked whiskey, we'd advise against it. Happy Thanksgiving!!
    • If you lack a grill rotisserie, the "Beer Can" method of grilling chicken works great in a pinch. For details on the Beer Can method, see our post here.
    • Because your bird has been thoroughly tenderized, it can withstand the high internal temperature. It is necessary to reach this high internal temperature in order to achive Pollo Perfection.
    • If you don't have fresh Huacatay or any Huacatay at all, fret not. Run to Latin market and you will likely be in luck. If you don't have one of those either...don't worry about it. If you have a garden or grocery store near-by, you may be in business: pulverize fresh mint with corriander and a little basil.
      Alternativly, if you are so inclined, grow the stuff. Its easy and grows like a weed, Check out our post on Huacatay.