Lechon Turkey/Pabochon

1 10-12 lb. turkey, rinsed thoroughly, giblets, etc. removed
1 cup fish sauce (patis) (or 2 cups kosher salt or 1 cup table salt) (available in Asian stores, a good Filipino brand is Rufina)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons or 10 calamansi (aka calamondin, a tiny, green, round citrus fruit found in Asian stores)
10 large cloves garlic, crushed but unpeeled

In a large stockpot or other container that will accommodate turkey, combine fish sauce with 2 gallons cold water. Add turkey, and additional water if needed to just cover turkey. Refrigerate for 12 hours. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, honey, oil and black pepper. Rinse lemons or calamansi and pierce with a fork all over. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove turkey from brine and rinse thoroughly under running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Stuff cavity with lemons and garlic. Truss turkey if desired (I prefer mine untrussed). Pour 1 cup water into a shallow roasting pan large enough to accommodate a roasting rack for the turkey. Set turkey breast side down over a roasting rack and brush all over with the soy sauce mixture. Roast for 45 minutes. Using paper towels, carefully turn turkey onto one side (wing/thigh up) and baste with soy sauce mixture. Replenish water if it’s drying up. Roast 15 minutes. Repeat with the other side. After 15 minutes, turn turkey breast side up. Lower heat to 325 degrees F. Start basting turkey every 15 minutes with juices from pan. Continue to roast until thickest part of thigh registers 180 degrees F on a meat thermometer. Juices should run clear, not pink or reddish. The last 30 minutes of roasting, baste turkey all over with soy sauce mixture. If turkey is browning too quickly, cover with a loose tent of foil. Remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes before carving. Serve with lechon sauce.

Cook’s Notes:

– If using turkey that has already been brined, you may omit the brining process. (I like to brine my own turkey though so I try to buy unbrined turkey.)
– If you’re going to bake the stuffing in the turkey, omit lemons and garlic. Stuff turkey just before roasting. Do not fill turkey up completely, as the stuffing will expand as it cooks. The remaining stuffing can be baked in a separate dish. Trussing is not optional if you stuffed the turkey. A stuffed turkey will take longer to roast than an unstuffed one.
– A handy cooking time calculator can be found at Butterball.com

Easy Lechon Sauce:

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup minced onion
1/3 cup liver pate or liver spread, or liverwurst or finely ground chicken livers
1 cup water
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup breadcrumbs

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute garlic and onion until garlic is golden and onion is limp. Add liver pate, water, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring until smooth. Lower heat and add breadcrumbs. Let simmer 5 more minutes. Serve with turkey lechon.


I thought all my Thanksgiving recipes that appeared in Asian Journal 3 years ago (?) were already here — but I guess I put it in the old “Beyond Adobo” blog. I’ll work on putting them here sometime. Sorry about that!