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Portuguese Recipe: Roasted Fowl with Herbs

Cooking 2 hours Preparation 48 hours 6 easy
Recipe type: Meat Cuisine: Portuguese

In America, my mother’s roasting adeptness is most venerated on Thanksgiving Day, which not traditionally a Portuguese holiday, we adopted as our own and celebrate it as our fellow immigrants do as “the day of the turkey.” For Portuguese families, the downfall to this American holiday is in fact its centerpiece—the turkey—which does make its way onto some Luso tables back in the Old Country but usually takes a back seat to chicken and duck. The complaints about the bird’s “dryness” have generally been unanimous. But when November came around each year in Newark, where I grew up among a vibrant Portuguese community, my mother (dubbed “Ceu” by friends and family) did indeed trade in her chicken for turkey. Unlike our neighbors who dreaded eating their bird (in some cases substituting it entirely with some other fowl), I, my father (Jose Luis) and my younger brother (Luis) had no reason to beg that the gobbler become an afterthought on the holiday dinner table. And as our family has expanded over the years, my mother’s turkey remains a godsend during our annual autumn festivities.

Try this traditional Portuguese Fowl recipe with a hearty, flavorful red from the Beira region. And if you’re keen to visit the region for a bespoke culinary tour of one of the most under-appreciated culinary destinations in Portugal, let us know!

Sonia Andresson-Nolasco


  • Turkey (any size)
  • Coarse salt
  • Orange peel
  • 5 lemons
  • 5 bay leaves
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • Dry basil, oregano, rosemary
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 4 tbsp paprika
  • White wine
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • Olive oil


Two days prior to roasting

  1. Soak turkey in a basin with water
  2. Throw in a handful of salt, an orange peel, juice from 2 lemons and bay leaves.
  3. Add black pepper, basil, oregano and  rosemary (to taste)
  4. Let soak until the following afternoon

One day prior to roasting

  1. Drain the water from the basin and dry the turkey with paper towels. 
  2. Cut and discard any unwanted fats
  3. In a large bowl, crush the garlic cloves (entire two heads of garlic), add a mug of olive oil and the juice of three lemons (discard lemons), freshly chopped parsley, black pepper and paprika. Blend together.
  4. Add more dry basil, oregano and rosemary, a handful of salt, and a mug of white wine
  5. Rub the turkey with the blend and leave marinating in the fridge overnight

Roasting day

  1. Preheat oven to 380 degrees (adjust for your oven)
  2. Place foil over turkey for the first hour of roasting, and remove foil for the second hour. 
  3. Remove turkey from the oven and turn it and baste with gravy
  4. Increase the temperature to 450 degrees and  put the turkey back inside for another 30 minutes
  5. Serve with your favorite side dishes

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