Flattened Moroccan Turkey

Flattened Moroccan Turkey.jpg

Craving an interesting twist on turkey? Try this recipe for a spicy-sweet Moroccan-flavoured bird. For ease of cooking and presentation, I have the butcher flatten the turkey by removing its backbone and the breast bone. It cooks more quickly this way, freeing up the oven to reheat other vegetables. It also makes for easy carving, which is helpful when you’re rushing to get dinner on the table. Using Moroccan spices gives the turkey a complex flavour profile without heat. It is also an opportunity to vary the side dishes to match the turkey seasoning. For sides, I would serve couscous garnished with pomegranate seeds, roasted root vegetables and cardamom-flavoured Brussels sprouts. A beet and yogurt salad as a first course would complete the feast. My spice mixture is based on Moroccan ras el hanout, a blend of up to 30 spices that varies from household to household. Mine is simpler, with sweet spices at its core. You can buy ras el hanout in some supermarkets and spice shops, but it is also easy to make at home.

Servings: 8


Spice Butter:

  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground anise or fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 14 lb (6.25 kg) turkey, backbone and breastbone removed and flattened
  • 2 tbsp melted butter


  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 cups turkey or chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 400 F.

Combine all the spices and beat into the butter.

Loosen some of the skin over the breast with your fingers or a spoon and rub spice paste as best you can under the skin on the breast meat as well as over the skin and underside of the turkey. Season the turkey skin with salt.

Place the turkey on a large baking sheet or roasting pan, folding the legs over the breast so they barely meet.

Roast for 30 minutes, then brush with half of the melted butter. Roast for 30 more minutes and brush with butter again. Continue roasting for 30 to 40 more minutes or until skin is golden and turkey juices run clear. Remove the turkey to a carving board to rest while you make the gravy.

Skim any fat from pan and place on burner over medium heat. Add pomegranate juice and reduce by half, scraping up all the bits in the pan. Add stock and vinegar and bring to a boil. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove leg and thigh in one piece. With a sharp knife, remove the breast meat and slice. Place on a platter and repeat with the second side. Serve the gravy with the turkey.