Growing up I spent many summers in Portugal on my grandfather’s small farm. His neighbor owned a poultry farm and grew chickens, ducks, quails and turkeys. Many people in Portugal own and breed turkeys but in Portugal’s 1,307 year history not one solitary dish features a whole turkey. To this day the vast majority of Portuguese Americans do not actually make turkey for Thanksgiving. They prefer to make suckling pig, roasted pork butt (our version of pernil assado) and even rabbit to roasting a turkey in the oven. You also rarely see turkey on the menus in Portuguese restaurants. Its rarely consumed at home but when they cook it they use every part of the bird. So when I ate this delicious dish in 2003 in a small restaurant tucked into the hills of Porto one cool autumn day I was enthralled. I asked the owner if I could speak to the chef and was let into the kitchen where the chef was hesitant to open up. I was getting nowhere and just as I was about to give up I spotted the edges of a tattoo on his arm peeking through the sleeve. I could tell it was the tip of an eagle’s wing. I decided to boldly proclaim my affection for Lisbon based S.L. Benfica (one of Portugal’s most popular and famous soccer teams whose emblem is an eagle). This was a bold move because I was in the heart of Porto the den of the dragons, the home of F.C. Porto the other popular Portuguese soccer team. The city is nearly all decked in blue (F.C. Porto’s colors) and everyone hates Benfica. There is a bitter and fierce rivalry between the two teams. So to find someone in the heart of the city with a Benfica tattoo was truly a miracle. He opened up immediately and we began to talk soccer and of our beloved Benfica. Before long I had the recipe. In the haze of the fine Douro Valley wine and a post dinner Portuguese brandy I forgot to take a business card and I never wrote down his name but I did hang on to this recipe. I typed it out when I got home and protect it with a plastic cover. The recipe was originally made it with the turkey leg quarter but that takes a bit longer to make so I switched to the wings which makes it a weeknight option. After an overnight marinade it only takes about an hour in the oven.
- 8 turkey wings
- 1 medium sized onion quartered
- 8 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup of Portuguese olive oil
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 cup packed parsley (stems and all)
- 1 Portuguese chouriço (or other smoked sausage) skin removed and cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons massa de pimentão
- 2 tablespoons Frank's Red Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 5 sweet potatoes peeled and cut into vertical lengths.
- The night before place all the ingredients (minus the turkey wings and sweet potatoes) in a food processor and process until a paste forms. If it stalls or isn't processing correctly add some water until it runs smooth. The mixture may be a bit chunky and you may see some bits of chouriço or onion that haven't been fully pulverized...this is OK.
- Place the wings in a large bowl and pour the food processor contents over the wings making sure to scrape every last bit of goodness out of the processor receptacle.
- With your hands work with mixture so that all the wings are covered with the marinade.
- Cover the bowl with clear plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place the turkey wings along with any marinade into an oven proof casserole or stainless steel roasting pan.
- Cook for one hour or until the internal temperature taken at the meatiest part of the wing registers 160 degrees F.
- About a half hour in fry the sweet potatoes and place them on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels.
- Serve the wings with the sweet potatoes and enjoy!