Try this Dominican turkey stuffed with rice (moro de guandules) and serve exquisitely seasoned, impossibly juicy, meat. A traditional Christmas dish rediscovered, which you can also serve for Thanksgiving or just any occasion that calls for a spectacular centerpiece.

For seasoning turkey – 1 small red onion, chopped – 6 clove garlic – ¼ cup capers – 3 tablespoons salt – 1 bunch parsley – Juice of 1 lime, (or lemon) – ¼ cubanela (cubanelle pepper), or bell pepper, chopped – ½ tablespoon pepper (freshly-cracked, or ground), freshly cracked – 1 whole turkey, About 9 lb [4 kg] unbrined turkey, thawed


For moro de guandules – 1 tablespoons olive oil – 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro – ½ teaspoon mashed garlic – 1 cubanela (cubanelle pepper), chopped – 1 pinch oregano (dry, ground) – 1 teaspoon salt – 1½ cups guandules (pigeon peas), boiled or canned (drained) – 2 cups rice For roasting – 1 tablespoon of browning, (affiliate link) – ⅓ cup butter (salted), at room temperature, divided


Step 1:

Mix the ingredients (onion, garlic cloves, capers, salt, parsley, lime juice, cubanela, and black pepper) for the seasoning and blend in the food processor to obtain a coarse paste.

Step 2:

Slowly work your hand between the skin and the turkey meat, making sure not to pierce through the skin, separating as much as possible all the way down to the legs and neck (we're not skinning the turkey, just making space to rub seasoning under the skin).

Step 3:

With a sharp knife carve 4 small holes into each side of the breast meat (don't pierce the skin!) and stuff them with the seasoning. Rub the rest of the seasoning under the turkey skin and inside the cavity. Place the turkey in a lidded container, or cover with aluminum foil, and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Take out of the fridge a couple of hours before roasting to let it reach room temperature, while it does, make the stuffing.

Step 4:

Once well heated, add 1¼ cups of water and bring to a boil.Heat the oil in a ½ gal [2 lt] iron pot over medium heat, and add the cilantro, garlic, peppers, oregano, and salt and cook and stir for a minute. Add the peas, also while stirring.

Step 5:

Stir in rice and simmer over medium heat, stirring regularly and removing as much as you can of the rice that sticks to the bottom. When all the water has evaporated, set aside half of the rice (still not fully cooked!) to stuff the turkey, and cover the pot with the remaining rice with a tight-fitting lid and simmer over very low heat.

Step 6:

Simmer for 20 minutes. Move the rice from the bottom to the top so it cooks uniformly. Cover again and simmer for another 5 minutes. Uncover and taste for doneness. The rice should be firm but tender inside. If necessary, cover and simmer another 5 minutes over very low heat. Spoon into a serving bowl and keep covered until it's time to serve.

Step 7:

Heat the oven at 325 ºF [160 ºC]. Spread ¾ of the butter under the turkey skin. Stuff the holes you carved with some butter, and set aside the rest of the butter for later use. Stuff the turkey with the partially-cooked rice.

Step 8:

Place on a baking tray with a wire rack (see below the recipe). Pull the skin to cover the turkey all over. Tie the legs with twine. Tie the wings tight against the skin by wrapping twine around the turkey. Paint all over the skin with browning.

Step 9:

Roast the turkey for 2½ hours, brushing all the exposed skin with butter every half hour. If any part starts to brown faster than the others, cover it with aluminum foil.

Step 10:

Once the 2½ hours have passed, test the turkey breast with a meat thermometer (see below the recipe). It should have reached 165 °F [74 ºC] when you hit the bone. You should also test inside the leg where it hits the ribs. If it hasn't reached that temperature, cook for another 20 minutes, and test again.

Step 11:

Once done, remove from the oven and cover the pan with a clean tea towel. Let it rest for 20 minutes before serving. When it is time to serve, mix the stuffing with the rest of the reserved moro, heat the mixture until steam comes out, and stuff again, leaving part of the rice visible.

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