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Portuguese menu offers a twist on holiday

    A Thanksgiving menu of Grandma’s Recheao, top, No-Cook Cranberry Relish and Vinha D’ahlos Turkey marks a change from traditional holiday fare.

Turkey is popular in Portugal, often roasted with an herbed stuffing and basted in melted butter. In Hawaii, many Portuguese families like a Vinha D’ahlos Turkey — one marinated in a tart, garlicky pickling mixture.

Recipes vary widely according to family tradition: Some use equal parts water and vinegar; others use 2 parts vinegar to 1 part water. Some use vinegar and dry white wine, in a ratio of 2 parts vinegar to 1 part wine. The number of garlic cloves can range from 4 to 6, the hot peppers from 4 to 6. Some use warm spices — cinnamon and such. Many do not (see more on this in the note below).

This recipe is from Genevieve Teves Moraes, who demonstrated it during a Portuguese cooking show sponsored by the Portuguese Heritage Council in 1977. She uses sauternes, a sweet French dessert wine, in basting; you can also use a Johannesburg Riesling or other sweetish white, or apple juice. 


1 small turkey (12 to 14 pounds), defrosted
Sea salt
4 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
Spices (see note below)
2 to 4 Hawaiian chili peppers, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups vinegar
2 cups water
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sauternes, white wine or apple juice

Rinse turkey, drain and wipe dry. Salt lightly inside and out. Set aside.

In small bowl, combine garlic, salt, spices, chilies and ground pepper. Rub this mixture all over turkey — wear gloves if you’re sensitive to chilies. Place turkey in large, sturdy plastic bag, one that won’t tear or leak. Combine vinegar and water and pour over turkey. Place in pan to catch any drips and refrigerate overnight, turning bag occasionally to distribute marinade. Or, place turkey in cooler, omitting 1 cup water from vinegar-water mix and instead throwing in tray or two of ice cubes, to keep bird chilled overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place turkey in roasting pan on flat, slotted rack or V-shaped cradle rack. Discard marinade. Combine butter and wine; baste turkey with mixture. Roast until a cooking thermometer plunged into thickest part of thigh registers 155 to 165 degrees — about 3-1/2 to 4 hours.

(If you take out the turkey at 155 degrees, the temperature will continue to rise for a while but turkey will be moist. U.S.D.A. safety guidelines suggest 165 degrees, but this can result in dry breast meat since the temperature will climb to 175 degrees. Your call.)

Baste turkey occasionally with butter-wine mixture. When it’s near dinnertime, remove turkey, loosely tent with foil and allow to rest 10 to 20 minutes; juices on the surface will be reabsorbed into meat. Serves 8 to 12.

Spice notes:

» Moraes’ uses 1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon and allspice.

» A more traditional spice mix would Portuguese 5-Spice: Made in bulk and shared among families, this spice is composed of cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves and star anise. Whole bottles of stick cinnamon, whole cloves, whole peppercorns and a handful each of bay leaves and star anise are placed in a rimmed baking pan and toasted at 300 degrees until crisp and aromatic. They are then ground and bottled. You can even cheat and use ground spices.

» Some versions call for pickling spice (about 3 tablespoons) and cumin (1/2 teaspoon). Grind in spice grinder or with mortar and pestle until fine-textured.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving (based on 8 servings): 1,050 calories, 55 g fat, 20 g saturated fat, 400 mg cholesterol, greater than 1,000 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate, no fiber or sugar, 127 g protein

This is the simple stuffing my grandmother made every year. Double the recipe if you like leftovers. My idea of heaven is an egg baked in a well of stuffing for breakfast the morning after Thanksgiving.


2 loaves "French" bread (not the thin baguette but the wider ones) *
5 large onions
4 bunches flat-leaf parsley
1 bunch celery
1/2 cup butter
32-ounce carton chicken broth (use approximately half carton)

Cut bread into 1-inch chunks. Spread on cookie sheets and place in 250-degree oven to dry out, about 20 minutes. Place in very large bowl.

Dice onions. Mince parsley. Slice celery stalks crosswise. Place in separate bowl.

Melt 1/4 cup butter in large frying pan and saute half of onion/parsley/celery mixture until onions are limp and translucent. Turn into bowl with bread. Repeat with remaining butter and vegetables mix. Mix stuffing well.

Butter 2 large 9-by-13-inch casserole dishes and pile stuffing into dishes. Drizzle with chicken broth — about half a carton for the 2 dishes; moisten but do not drown bread. Bake at 325 for 25 to 30 minutes, until heated through. Serves 8 to 10.

*Use rustic loaf or supermarket type, whatever your preference.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving (based on 8 servings): 500 calories, 17 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, greater than 1,200 mg sodium, 75 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 14 g protein

Another recheao version: My Godmother, Cyrilla Medeiros of Wailuku, Maui, makes a fabulous stuffing. If she doesn’t save me a little container, I pout.

She marinates an 8-pound sirloin tip in vinha d’ahlos marinade overnight, as above. She then grinds the meat along with 2 rings skinned Portuguese sausage, 1 chopped onion, 5 to 6 crushed garlic cloves and 1/2 bunch parsley.

To this she adds bread crumbs made from a couple of loaves of French bread. Mix all, place in casserole dishes. For moistening, she boils the turkey neck to get 2 to 3 cups liquid.

This cranberry relish is healthful, retains the texture of the fruit and isn’t hard to make. If you have an old-fashioned grinder, set it up. Otherwise, use a stand mixer with a grinder attachment; a food processor, working carefully not to overprocess to mushy texture; or you can chop all the fruit very fine by hand if you’re a masochist.


2 cups washed raw cranberries
2 tart apples, peeled and cored
1 large, unpeeled seedless orange, cut into sections
1 to 2 cups sugar (according to preference), or sugar substitutes such as Splenda, Truvia or stevia

Grind, process or chop fruit fine. Mix in sugar. Let mixture sit at room temperature until sugar dissolves, about 45 minutes.

Store in refrigerator. Makes about 3 cups.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per 1/4 cup serving (using 2 cups sugar): 150 calories, no fat, cholesterol or sodium, 39 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 37 g sugar, no protein


Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S.

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