Turkey Alcatra

Delicious Change to Turkey Roasting

Turkey AlcatraAlcatra (claypot roast) is a Portuguese dish originating from the Azorean Island of Terceira. It’s most often made with beef. But my friend, Melissa, whose family is from Terceira loves to use this traditional recipe for turkey. She says she has her husband cut the turkey into pieces and the legs aren’t used in her dish. Since my meal preparation is only for 4 I felt a whole turkey even without legs would be just too much. I knew it was risky just using a turkey breast because of the leanness that quickly goes from moist to dry. But a steam method just seemed foolproof. It’s amazing. I removed the skin before serving but you don’t need to. Brown up that skin by removing the top of the roaster at the end of the cooking period or pre-brown. That simple!

Thanks Melissa, a perfect idea.


No preheating the oven if using a claypot. The clay needs to heat up with the oven otherwise it will crack. If you are using your claypot for the first time you will need to soak it for a bit longer than if you’ve used it repeatedly. Use your claypot manufacturer instructions. I soaked mine for longer than necessary, about 2 hours. Over-soaking 12-24 hours can produce a bland taste to the dish because of too much moisture during the cooking process. I was unable to find a totally unglazed claypot, my preference. The bottom half is glazed on the interior. I soak just the same. If you haven’t a claypot I recommend one for your kitchen not just for this recipe but so many others. It’s a fun easy way to roast.

7-8 Pound turkey breast with neck and partial legs attached (This is the usual way a full turkey breast is sold at your super market.)

Clay roaster large enough to accommodate ingredients, a snug fit. I used a 4.2 quart size.

1/3-1/2 Cup butter-room temperature
Salt and Pepper
1-2 Large onions-sliced
4 Large garlic cloves-peel and smash
1 Tablespoon pickling spices placed in a spice bag or tea strainer
3 Teaspoons whole all spice placed with pickling spices in a spice bag or tea strainer
3 Large bay leaves
1/2 Teaspoon salt
8-10 Small yellow potatoes-peeled
8 Carrots-peeled
2-2 1/2 Cups dry white wine

Butter generously the bottom half of your pre-soaked roaster.

Rinse the turkey thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Loosen (but do not remove) the turkey skin and smooth the butter under the skin. Salt and pepper generously the exterior of the turkey. If you are using all parts of the turkey butter and salt and pepper each piece.

Layer part of the onion and half the garlic over the bottom of the roaster then add the turkey. If you can make several layers of onion, garlic and turkey. If not, add onion under and on top of the turkey breast.

Add the spice bag and bay leaves. Add the salt to the wine and pour around the contents of the roaster until bottom of roaster is covered. Avoid putting so much wine that the roaster is filled too close to the brim. The meat will produce liquid too and this creates a potential for overflow.

Cover and place into a cold oven. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F and maintain this temperature for one hour. Then without opening the oven or roaster reduce heat to 250 degrees and cook for an additional 7-8 hours.

Add the potatoes and carrots to the roaster in the last hours of roasting. Check the turkey for doneness, an internal temperature of 165 degrees. For browning remove the lid at the very end of the cooking process. It will brown up quickly but may not reach a deep brown. An alternative to this browning process is to brown the turkey pieces in cooking oil following the buttering before placing in the roaster for the long cooking process.

An alternative to adding the potatoes and carrots to the roaster is to roast the vegetables separately after removing your roaster from the oven. For roasted vegetables preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Slather the vegetables with olive oil and place in a single layer on a cooking sheet with a 1-2 inch lip. Salt and Pepper. Add a head of garlic with top sliced through and removed. Roast for one hour or until done. Turn over vegetables half way through the cooking or not.


Turkey Alcatra



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