Editor’s Note: Palo Santo chef and owner Jacques Gautier has a dedicated following in Park Slope. Fans crave his Latin-American and Caribbean-inspired cuisine, crafted with meticulously sourced local meats, seafood shipped directly from fishermen to the restaurant, and veggies, herbs and rabbits from Jacques’ rooftop garden (and beyond). For our Thanksgiving Potluck, Chef Jacques takes on the turkey his way, with heritage-breed bird and a Mexican-inspired twist…and doubles down with a side.
By Jacques Gautier, owner/chef at Palo Santo
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. On my mother’s side of the family we have both Pilgrim and Native American blood, so as a kid I felt a special connection to the holiday because it symbolized camaraderie between those two groups. Later in life I learned that it was all bullshit created to alleviate our guilt associated with a history of colonization.
However, unlike Columbus Day, I don’t hate Thanksgiving because it is a holiday centered around food, booze and the sharing of a large hedonistic meal. Before I had my own restaurant kitchen to run I would go home to DC on Thanksgiving and cook a big meal at my mother’s home. For me it was a chance to get lots of friends together and show off what I was learning in culinary school.
This year Palo Santo will be open for business on Thanksgiving and we will be serving a special four course menu starring Heritage Turkey braised in Mole Poblano, but Trinidad, my sous chef will be doing the cooking. (His Mole is better than mine anyway.) I’ll be in California with my two month old son cooking Thanksgiving dinner for his mama and her family. I’ll be back in BK to work the line on Christmas Eve and of course New Year’s Eve.
Slow Cooked Heritage Turkey in Green Mole
- 6 lbs Heritage Turkey (4 drumsticks + 4 thighs)
- 1 large yellow onion (chopped)
- 6 cloves of garlic (peeled and chopped)
- 1 green chile (seeded and chopped, use spicier chiles if you prefer more heat)
- 2 Tbs. salt (this should be done to taste)
- 1 12oz light beer
- 1 lb. green tomatillos (husk removed and pureed in a blender)
- 2 quarts light turkey or chicken stock
- 1 bunch of cilantro (leaves only – pureed) save a few leaves for garnish
- Brown the turkey two pieces at a time in a large sauté pan with a little bit of fat or oil. Remove the pieces and set them aside leaving the rendered fat in the pan.
- Add the onion, garlic, chile and salt and sauté until golden brown.
- Deglaze with beer. Let the alcohol cook off, then add the tomatillo purée and bring up to a simmer.
- Place the turkey in a deep roasting pan and pour the onion and tomatillo mixture over them. Add the stock.
- Cover the roasting pan with a lid or a sheet of aluminum foil, and place the roasting pan in the center of an oven turned to 300 f.
- Let the turkey cook in the oven until the meat is tender and falling off of the bone. This will take about 4 hours
- Remove the pan from the oven and leave it covered in a warm place in the kitchen. Let the turkey rest for at least half an hour.
- Pour some of the sauce off of the roasting pan and into a medium sauce pan. Bring it up to a simmer over low flame. Stir in the cilantro puree to intensify the green color.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Place the turkey on a large platter and pour the sauce over top. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve.
Root Vegetable Gratin
- 5 lbs starchy tropical root vegetables (sweet potato, yam, malanga, yautia, boniato, etc.)
- 1.5 qts heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp butter
- Peel all of the root vegetables (keep them separated) and slice them thin on a mandolin.
- Put the sliced vegetables into separate pots and cover with cold water. Salt the water and put them on the stove to boil over a medium flame.
- Once the water has come up to a boil remove the pots from the stove and drain together in a large colander.
- Transfer the mixed root vegetables to a large mixing bowl and add 1 quart of cream, salt and pepper and allspice. Mix well and taste. Add more salt if necessary.
- Crush the clove of garlic and rub the inside of a 9” x 12”pan with the garlic and butter.
- Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to the hotel pan and press the slices flat letting the cream cover everything.
- Bake at 325 f for an hour or so, until the cream has been soaked up. Add the remaining cream and return to oven. Continue baking until the top is golden brown and crusty.
Palo Santo is located at 652 Union St, between 4th Ave & 5th Ave, in Park Slope.
For more on the story behind Palo Santo, check out our chat with Jacques: ‘Chewing the Fat’ with Palo Sano Chef Jacques Gautier