Recipe: Turn the traditional turkey on its head (not really) with this Mediterranean rub

Turkey with Mediterranean rub
Turkey with Mediterranean rub(Karoline Boehm Goodnick for the Boston Globe)

Serves 8

Turn the traditional turkey on its head (not really) with this combination of fresh herbs with warm spices. The rub contains parsley, cilantro, and oregano leaves with paprika, crushed red pepper, crushed coriander seeds, cumin, and cinnamon. Before you roast the bird, slip the rub under the skin and let it sit out for 30 minutes before it goes into the oven. There is no need to be anxious about roasting a turkey because it’s quite simple. You’ll baste the turkey several times with some of the rub mixed with chicken stock so the bird turns a dark, almost mahogany, color. When the turkey reaches 165 degrees in three places, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, warm any sides that were waiting for oven space.



1cup fresh parsley leaves
1cup fresh cilantro leaves
½cup fresh oregano leaves
3cloves garlic
Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
½cup olive oil
¼cup coarsely cracked coriander seeds
¼cup coarsely ground black pepper
2tablespoons paprika
1tablespoon crushed red pepper
1teaspoon ground cumin
½teaspoon ground cinnamon
1tablespoon salt

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Have on hand a large roasting pan.

2. In a food processor, combine parsley, cilantro, oregano, garlic, and lemon rind and juice. Pulse until finely chopped.

3. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil, then the coriander, black pepper, paprika, red pepper, cumin, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse just to combine them.


1whole turkey (12 pounds or more)
Salt and black pepper, to taste
3lemons, cut in half
2heads garlic, cut in half horizontally
1onion, quartered
24pearl onions, peeled
¾cup chicken or turkey stock
1bunch fresh parsley
1bunch fresh cilantro
1pomegranate, quartered

1. Remove the giblets from both the neck and vent ends of the bird. Wipe the bird inside and out with paper towels but do not wash it. Sprinkle the inside with salt and pepper.

2. With your hands, separate the skin from the flesh of the turkey breast and the thighs. Spread all but ¼ cup rub under the skin. Pull the skin taut and season it with salt and pepper. With kitchen twine, tie the legs of the bird together.

3. Place lemons, garlic, shallots, quartered onion, and pearl onions in the bottom of the roasting pan. Set the turkey, breast side up, on top of the vegetables (or on a roasting rack placed in the pan).


4. Roast the turkey for 2 hours before you start basting it.

5. In a bowl, combine the remaining ¼ cup rub with the chicken or turkey stock. Remove the turkey from the oven. Baste with ⅓ of the rub mixture. Return turkey to the oven and continue roasting for 1 hour, basting 2 more times, or until the skin is golden brown and a meat thermometer inserted into the bird in three places registers 165 degrees. If the skin is too brown, cover it loosely with foil. If it isn’t brown enough, turn the oven up to 400 degrees for the last 20 minutes. Let the turkey rest in a warm place for at least 30 minutes before carving.

6. Transfer the turkey to a large serving platter. Arrange lemons, garlic, shallots, onions, parsley, cilantro, and pomegranates around the bird.

Karoline Boehm Goodnick

Karoline Boehm Goodnick can be reached at