Turkey has always been a popular food in the Mayan peninsula of Yucatan, so there are dozens of ways in which the bird is prepared. This recipe for simply flavoured broth, with delicate aromatics such as oregano and toasted garlic, is wonderfully hearty, and is always served with the chilli native to Yucatan, the fiery habanero.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (5 votes)


  • 2 garlic bulbs
  • 1 x 2–3 kg turkey, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 250 ml (1 cup) bitter orange juice (see Note)
  • 2 tbsp ground oregano
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 10 Mexican bay leaves
  • 8 fresh large red chillies
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
  • 4 onions, sliced

Habanero salsa

  • 50 ml bitter orange juice (see Note)
  • 3 green habanero chillies, chopped
  • salt

To serve

  • 500 g corn tortillas, warmed

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Heat a heavy-based frying pan over medium and add garlic bulbs. Dry-roast for 8-10 minutes or until charred on bases. Reserve.

Place the turkey pieces, garlic and salt in a deep 30 cm saucepan and add enough water to cover. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours or until tender. Remove the turkey from the stock and reserve.

Preheat a chargrill over medium. Combine orange juice, oregano, pepper and bay leaves and brush mixture over the cooked turkey. Chargrill the turkey pieces for 5–8 minutes on each side or until lightly coloured. As each piece is ready, return them to the stock.

Place the fresh chillies on the chargrill and cook for 5 minutes, turning, until softened. Reserve.

Meanwhile, prepare the salsa by grinding all ingredients together in a mortar and pestle.

Heat vegetable oil in a 30 cm frying pan over medium and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until softened. (If the pan is too small to accommodate all the onion, cook it in batches.) Add onion to the turkey and return pan to the heat. Simmer for a further 30 minutes.

Add the toasted chillies to the broth and check the seasoning. Serve a piece of turkey with each portion, along with a generous ladle of the broth and onion. Top with a grilled chilli. Serve warmed tortillas at the table along with the habanero salsa.


• Bitter oranges are common and integral ingredient in Mexican cooking. If unavailable, use a mixture of two parts lime juice, one part lemon juice and one part orange in its place.