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How to Cook a Turkey, Lebanese Style


Author: Esperance Sammour

Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Prep time:  1 hour
Cook time:  4 hours 30 mins
Total time:  5 hours 30 mins

An amazingly hearty and earthy Lebanese turkey recipe created with love.


Turkey Ingredients

Whole Turkey Cleaned, 10 lbs
Lebanese 7-spices, 2 table spoons
Cinnamon powder, 1 table spoon
Bouquet Garni (herb leave mix such as thyme, rosemary, savory, bay leaf..etc) , 5 table spoons
Salted Butter, 100-200 grams (1/4 to ½ lb)
A dash of salt
Garnish of Nuts, Ingredients
Pine Nuts ½lbs
Almond Halves ½lbs
Green Pistachio ½lbs
Raw Chestnuts (peeled) 1.5lbs
A dash of salt
Vegetable oil for light frying

Gravy Ingredients

Raw Chestnuts (peeled) 1.5lbs
Carrots cleaned and chopped 1lb
Leek, cleaned and cut, 1 cup
Celery cleaned and cut, 1 cup
1 Large onion peeled and cut
1 medium size potatoe peeled and cut into cubes
Butter (1/2 lb)
Lebanese 7-spices, 5 table spoons
Salt to taste (1/2 to 2 teaspoon)

Hashweh Rice Ingredients

1 Medium onion, chopped
Finely ground beef 100% lean, 1 lb
Salt, 1 teaspoon
Lebanese 7 Spices, 1 table spoon
Gravy, 1.5 cups
Rinsed and strained rice, 4 cups


Preparing the Nuts

  1. Warm some vegetable oil in a frying pan, add all nuts and fry on medium heat until they turn golden. You may fry the nuts one category at a time.
  2. Place the nuts in a strainer for later use as a garnish.

Turkey Method

  1. Rinse the turkey with cold water, rub with salt and some flour then rinse again.
  2. Rub the insides and outsides of the turkey with about ¼ lb of butter, then rub it with all of the allotted spices (cinnamon, 7-spices, bouquet garni herb leaves etc..).
  3. Rub butter over a large aluminum foil and wrap the turkey tightly with it.
  4. Place the wrapped turkey on a tray in the center of an oven pre-heated to 500F and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Lower heat to 350F (less than medium), and cook for 1.5 hours.
  6. Pull the turkey out of the oven very carefully and empty the melted butter and juices from the tray into a separate pot.
  7. Unrap the turkey, rub it with butter again inside and out (watch your hands), wrap it back with the aluminum foil and back in the oven for another 3 hours.
  8. Plan your timings so that the turkey finishes cooking about 30mins prior to serving time.

Gravy Method

  1. On a large aluminum foil rubbed with butter, pour all of the gravy ingredients.
  2. Mix well then wrap the foil tightly and place in the oven (on an optional tray) while the turkey is cooking for 30-45 minutes. We don't need to fully cook the ingredients here, but just tenderize them a bit.
  3. Empty the ingredients in the pot where you previously saved the melted turkey
  4. butter/juice, add 3-4 cups of water and boil gently until the veggies are fully cooked and
  5. soft. Leave contents in pot until it cools down.
  6. Grind finely in a food processor.
  7. Place contents back into pot and cover until serving time when you would reheat a few mins prior to serving.

Hashweh Rice Method

  1. In a pot, sautee the finely chopped onions on medium heat with some butter or vegetable oil until they start turning golden.
  2. Add the ground beef, salt and 7-spices, sttir well until the beef starts pinkish/brownish.
  3. Add the rice and stir well.
  4. Add 1.5 cups of gravy made in the above step and stir well.
  5. Add 4.5 cups of water, stir well. As soon as the pot boils, lower heat to minimum, cover and let
  6. simmer for 15 minutes or until fully cooked.

Serving the Feast

  1. Place cooked rice in a large serving tray and garnish with the fried nuts following this optional order: almonds on the outer layers, then pistachio, then pine nuts in the middle. And garnish the sides of the tray with the fried chestnuts.
  2. If your tray is large enough you can place the turkey in the middle, or you can place it on a separate tray along with the warmed gravy.
  3. Serve with love.

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