Yucatan Braised Turkey

YIELD: 16 servings

16 each crusty rolls, split
24 slices tomatoes
2 bunches cilantro, washed and cut into 2-in. sprigs

Onion relish:
2 Tbsps. vegetable oil
4 medium red onions, thinly-sliced
4 tsps. salt
4 Tbsps. sugar
4 Tbsps. vinegar
4 Tbsps. freshly-squeezed lime juice

Chipolte spread:
2 cups sour cream
4 each chipotle peppers in adobo (canned), mashed until smooth
1 tsp.salt

Turkey cochinita:
2 packages frozen banana leaves, thawed
4 oz. achiote paste
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsps. toasted cumin seed, crushed
4 Tbsps. ground garlic
2 Tbsps. sea salt
2 large oranges, juiced
2 large limes, juiced
4 strips orange peel
1/2 cup olive oil
8 lbs. turkey thighs*

Black bean spread:
2 cups black beans, soaked
5 cups cold water
8 oz. smoked turkey leg, cut in chunks
2 tsps. salt
2 tsps. ground garlic
2 mediumbay leaves

  1. For the onion relish: Heat vegetable oil in a heavy pan until almost smoking. Add sliced onions and reduce heat; toss occasionally to prevent scorching. When onions are translucent, add salt, sugar, vinegar and lime juice. Cook on lowest heat setting until all liquid evaporates. Remove from heat and cover. Refrigerate up to 2 days.
  2. For the chipolte spread: Combine the sour cream, mashed chipotles and salt; refrigerate, covered, up to 2 days.
  3. For the turkey: Line a heavy pan with banana leaves. Combine the achiote with the cloves, cumin, garlic, salt, citrus juices and peel, and oil to make a marinade. Rub the marinade into the turkey legs and layer in the lined pan; fold banana leaves over turkey. Cover with a heavy lid or foil and marinate overnight in refrigerator. Roast in 325°F oven until turkey is tender, about 2 hours. Remove bones and skin and shred turkey; reserve for service. (*8 lbs. turkey breast may be substituted for the thighs. If turkey breast is used, roast turkey only until the internal temperature reaches 179°F.)
  4. For the black bean spread: While turkey is roasting, cook the soaked black beans with the flavorings until tender. In food processor, puree the strained beans and use the cooking liquid to thin it to a thick spread, about the texture of sour cream. Hold warm until service.
  5. To serve: Coat the bottom of each split roll with the black bean spread; cover the top of each roll with the chipotle sour cream. Divide the shredded turkey cochinita evenly among the sandwiches and stack on top of the black bean spread. Top with sliced tomatoes, red onion relish and cilantro sprigs.

Recipe from Chef Eric Lenard, University of Washington, Seattle.