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Chef Sinnes info

Chef's Tips

A. Cort Sinnes
(more info)

Mexican Fiesta Turkey
from The Gas Grill Gourmet(Harvard Common Press, 1996)

This is wonderful party food: tasty, inexpensive, and festive.

You'll get very good results with whole birds if you flatten them before grilling. By doing so, you create a piece of meat of uniform thickness that will cook more evenly. If you are going to marinate the bird, flatten it before putting it into the marinade.

Place the bird on a cutting board, breast side up. With a heavy chef's knife, cleaver, or pair of poultry shears, cut through the ribs on one side, as close to the backbone as possible. Make a second cut on the other side of the backbone, again as close to the bone as possible. Remove the backbone completely.

Turn the bird breast side down and spread the rib cage apart. If you make a notch in the end of the breast bone near the wishbone, it will be easier to spread the rib cage.

Turn the bird over and flatten it with the heel of your hand. In the process, expect some of the rib bones to break. Make a slit in the bird's skin near the edge of each breast and tuck in the legs. Fold the wing tips under the wings.


  • 1 whole turkey, about 10 to 12 pounds, fresh or thawed
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder (hot or mild)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • lime wedges and chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)

1.Flatten the turkey according to the directions above or ask your butcher to do it for you. Wash the turkey in cold water and blot it dry. Remove the lumps of fat from inside the rib cage. Combine all ingredients, except the lime and cilantro, in a very large zipper-lock plastic bag or other food-safe plastic bag and mix well. Place the turkey in the bag, seal it, and turn the bag a few times to coat the turkey with the marinade. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours or longer, preferably overnight.

2. Preheat the grill for 10 to 15 minutes, with all the burners on high. Once the grill is hot, turn one burner off and turn the other(s) to medium. Drain the marinade from the bag and discard it. Place the turkey over the burner that is off. Close the grill's lid and cook the turkey for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, turning it several times. The turkey is done when a meat thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the breast registers 170 degrees F.

3. Transfer the turkey to a carving board. Cover the bird loosely with a foil tent and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. To carve the turkey, start on one side. First cut the leg and thigh sections completely off, then do the same with the wings. Slice the breast meat thin, then cut the meat from the legs, thighs, and wings. Repeat on the other side. Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro, if desired, and serve immediately.

Serves 10-14

A. Cort Sinnes wrote his first cookbook, The Grilling Book, for Aris Books in 1986. In 1992, his second cookbook, The Grilling Encyclopedia, was published by Atlantic Monthly Press and was nominated for a James Beard Award. From 1986 through 1990 Cort was editor-in-chief of Flower and Garden Magazine in Kansas City, Missouri. After leaving the magazine, he started his own book series, Backyard Books, of which there are now two titles in print; In Your Own Backyard and Backyard Games, published by Andrews and McMeel in 1992 and 1993. In 1993 In Your Own Backyard was awarded the prestigious Quill and Trowel Award for excellency in writing from the Garden Writers Association of America. Cort currently writes a syndicated newspaper column entitled "In Your Own Backyard", which appears in more than 250 newspapers nationwide on a monthly basis.

Cort Sinnes is also a regular food columnist for National Gardening Magazine and Fishing World, as well as a frequent contributor to Fine Cooking and Cooks Illustrated magazine. Additionally, Cort has served as a media spokesperson and creative consultant for a variety of companies in the outdoor living and specialty food arena, including Kitchen Aid. He lives in Kansas City.

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