Atlanta Restaurant Scene

Use this Turkey Cubano recipe to bring everyone together on Thanksgiving

AJC food editor Ligaya Figueras recently spent time with David Benoit and his family at their Tucker home as Benoit went through a Thanksgiving dinner run-through in preparation for the big event.

One of the primary dishes Benoit prepares is a Cuban-style turkey (Benoit's wife, Pilar, has ties to Cuba).

Make the recipe below to bring some spice to your Thanksgiving table, and read more about how 8 limes and a cupful of kindness makes for communal Thanksgiving for this metro Atlanta family.


Mario Morfi’s Turkey Cubano

Courtesy of David Benoit

16 servings


1 20-lb. turkey

2 to 3 whole heads garlic, crushed

Salt, to taste (often 2-3 tablespoons)

Dried oregano, to taste (roughly in equal proportion as salt)

8 fresh limes

8 oz. naranja agria (bitter orange marinade liquid), or substitute with 4 oz. orange juice and 4 oz. lemon juice

3 whole onions, peeled and quartered

Olive oil for baking


3 days prior:

  • Wash the turkey. Pat it dry with paper towels and place it right side up in a roasting pan. Using a knife, cut numerous slits into the skin of the turkey one or two inches apart. (Try not to pierce the flesh.) Set aside.
  • Make a paste of the garlic, salt and oregano. Using a teaspoon, stuff the paste into the slits so that the paste is between the skin and the flesh of the turkey.
  • Juice the limes over the turkey. Place some of the spent lime shells inside the cavity of the turkey. Place the remaining shells in the pan, nestled around the turkey.
  • Pour the naranja agria over the turkey.
  • Cover the roasting pan with foil and refrigerate.


2 days prior:

  • Uncover the foil, turn the turkey upside down and baste with the liquid in the bottom of the pan. Re-cover with foil and refrigerate.


1 day prior:

  • Uncover the foil, turn the turkey right-side up and baste with the liquid in the bottom of the pan. Re-cover with foil and refrigerate.


Day of:

  • Uncover the foil. Remove and discard the lime shells.
  • Turn the turkey upside down. Add the quartered onions to the cavity of the turkey. (Do not remove the liquid at the bottom of the pan.)
  • Re-cover with foil and cook 1 ½ hours in a 250-degree oven.
  • Remove from oven and coat lightly with olive oil. Re-cover with foil. Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook an additional 2 ½ hours – still upside down.
  • Turn the turkey right side up. Coat again with olive oil. Increase the oven temperature to 380 degrees and cook an additional 35 to 45 minutes until skin browned and crispy.



5 places to buy Thanksgiving dinner to-go in metro Atlanta

4 places to purchase Thanksgiving pies in metro Atlanta

Where to buy fresh turkeys in Atlanta for Thanksgiving

3 Atlanta sommeliers tell you what wine to buy for Thanksgiving

How to make turducken


Read The A List: The faces, places, dishes and drinks defining the Atlanta dining scene right now

Read more stories like this by liking Atlanta Restaurant Scene on Facebook, following@ATLDiningNews on Twitter and @ajcdining on Instagram.

Reader Comments ...

About the Author