Episode 212: Miami Spice

Turkey Adobo with Mojo de Ajo

Turkey Recipes for Thanksgiving

In Miami, our food culture is firmly anchored in Latin America and the West Indies. This recipe is a holiday turkey—Miami style, spiced with adobo, a garlic-cumin marinade, and served with a sour orange sauce called Mojo.

Other Recipes from Episode 212: Miami Spice



Turkey Adobo with Mojo de Ajo

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Serves 8
  • Equipment: 2 cups wood chips (preferably oak or hickory), soaked in water to cover for 1 hour, then drained


For the Marinade

  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea), plus salt for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus pepper for seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup sour orange juice (or ¾ cup fresh lime juice and ¼ cup fresh orange juice)

  • 1 10 to 12 pound turkey, preferably fresh
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • Mojo de Ajo, for serving

Recipe Steps

1: The day before, prepare the marinade. Mash the garlic and salt to a paste in a mortar and pestle. Pound in the cumin, oregano, pepper, cilantro, and last of all, the sour orange juice. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, puree the ingredients in a blender.

2: Remove the giblets and any lumps of fat from the front and main cavities of the turkey. Season the inside with salt and pepper. Loosen the turkey skin from the meat, working carefully so as not to tear the skin. Add ¼ cup of the marinade to the main cavity and 1 tablespoon to the front cavity. Stand the turkey upright in a deep bowl and pour the remaining adobo under the skin. Work over a roasting pan to catch any runoff from the marinade. Transfer the turkey to a large container or jumbo plastic bag with any excess marinade. Marinate the turkey overnight in the refrigerator, turning it several times to marinate evenly.

3: Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a gas grill, place the chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch. Run the grill on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, toss half the wood chips on the coals.

4: Place the turkey on the grate away from the fire. Indirect grill until cooked, 2-1/2 to 3 hours. (Use an instant-read thermometer to test for doneness—the turkey is ready when the thigh meat is 170 degrees.) If using a charcoal grill, replenish the coals and wood chips every hour. The last hour, start basting the outside of the turkey with melted butter. (If the skin starts to brown too much, tent the bird with foil.)

5: If using a smoker, preheat it to 250 degrees. You’ll need to cook the bird about 3-1/2 to 4 hours. (Know, however, that the skin will not crisp at this temperature. You may want to transfer the bird to a 350-degree grill—or even the oven—for the last hour of cooking.)

6: Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving and serving with the Mojo de Ajo.

Recipe Tips

Our thanks to the sponsors of Project Fire Season 2:

Big Green Egg Kalamazoo Green Mountain Grills FireMagic Creekstone Farms Weber Maverick Shun Basques Bonfire Workman Publishing Smoke n Fire

Steven Raichlen’s Project Fire is a production of Maryland Public Television, Barbacoa, Inc., and Resolution Pictures. © 2019 Barbacoa, Inc. Photos by Chris Bierlein.