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Kalua Turkey

Kalua Turkey 16.000

Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post

Hawaiian Thanksgiving Nov 16, 2011

This might be the next-best thing to Hawaii's traditional kalua turkey, cooked in a covered pit. There are several variations, but this simple recipe is the one Sara K. Goo makes with her father. They apply the salt first, then pour the liquid smoke over the bird; in testing, we found that reversing that order -- applying the liquid before the salt -- worked as well.

Serve with white rice, freshly cut pineapple and traditional Thanksgiving side dishes.

Servings: 16 , with leftovers
  • 1 1/2 cups coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • 16-pound fresh turkey, giblets, neck and any other packets removed
  • 1/2 cup liquid smoke seasoning, or more as needed
  • Water (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have at hand a roasting pan with rack that fits inside.

Use all of the salt to rub the exterior of the bird, its cavity and gently under the skin as much as possible. Then pour all of the liquid smoke seasoning outside and inside the bird, rubbing it into the skin to spread it evenly. Place the turkey on the rack in the roasting pan; cover tightly with aluminum foil. Roast for 4 1/2 to 5 hours, until much of the skin is lightly browned and a thermometer inserted into the thigh (but not touching the bone) registers 165 degrees. The turkey should be falling off the bone. Uncover, and let the turkey rest for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, strain the pan juices into a small saucepan. Add water (to dilute) or a little liquid smoke seasoning (to intensify the flavor) as needed. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for about 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and keep warm; its consistency will be thin.

Discard all the skin and remove the bones from the turkey, reserving the bones for another use, if desired. Transfer the meat to a separate large pan or casserole dish or platter. Use two forks or your clean hands to shred the turkey to the consistency of pulled pork.

Before serving, pour the heated pan juices over the turkey and toss lightly to coat. Serve warm.

Recipe Source

From Washington Post Real Estate editor Sara K. Goo.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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Nutritional Facts

Ingredients are too variable for a meaningful analysis.

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