Summer Grilling: From Portuguese Piri Piri to Spanish-Style Tacos, Flavourful Recipes From Canadian Chefs

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Chef Connie DeSousa's Portuguese piri piri turkey churrasquinho (above) is one of her family recipes. Photo: Courtesy of Think Turkey

Beyond your typical barbecue fare, these turkey recipes from top Canuck chefs will bring some delicious, multicultural flavours to your next backyard bash.


Chef Connie DeSousa’s Portuguese Piri Piri Turkey Churrasquinho


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Photo: Courtesy of Think Turkey


Connie DeSousa, a chef and restauranteur based in Alberta, shares her family recipe for piri piri.

Serves: 8 people
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 hours


1 whole turkey, approx. 8 lbs
4 cups water
1 cup salt
1 tbsp black peppercorns
4 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 lemon, juiced turkey skewers
1 tsp salt and pepper
1 cup Portuguese pepper sauce (Piri Piri)
¼ cup olive oil
2 small white onions
4 small sweet peppers
4 pcs large heavy duty metal skewers for kebab

Dish Accompaniments:
8 pita bread or naan
¼ cup olive oil
1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 cup pickled chilies



For the Turkeys:

1. Remove neck and bag of offal’s from inside of turkey.

2. Using sharp kitchen shears, cut out the backbone from the turkey

3. With a sharp chef’s knife, cut through the turkey breast bone to separate the turkey into 2 halves. (note: steps 1-3 can be done by your local butcher upon request)

4. Combine all ingredients for the brine and cook to dissolve salt. Cool brine to refrigerator temperature. This can be done overnight.

5. Place both turkey halves in a deep dish or bowl and cover with brine. Allow turkey to brine overnight or a minimum of 8 hours.

6. Preheat your grill to 350 F

7. Remove turkey from brine and pat dry to remove all moisture.

8. Generously sprinkle salt all over turkey.

9. Pour pepper sauce all over turkey front and back.

10. Drizzle turkey with olive oil on front and back.

11. Cut onions in half and remove skin. Skewer ½ onion on skewer and push down to the handle. Skewer 1 pepper on the skewer and push down to meet the onion. Repeat with the other 3 skewers. Skewer half turkey with 1 metal skewers, inserting at the tip of the breast all the way through to the bottom of the leg. Repeat with another skewer 3 inches beside the other skewer. Test the stability of the turkey by lifting both skewers simultaneously. Repeat with the other half of turkey.

12. Place turkey halve skin side up on the grill with skewer handles sticking out on front edge of grill. Close the lid. (if using a grill without a lid, cover the turkeys with heavy gauge aluminum foil)

13. After 1.5 hours, carefully flip turkeys to skin side down and cook turkeys for an additional 30 minutes to internal temperature 170 F.

14. Remove turkeys from the grill and place on a baking sheet and cover with foil. Rest turkeys for 30 minutes before carving.

15. Carve turkey into slices and place on a large platter with accompaniments.

For the Pita:

1. Brush pitas with olive oil on both sides.

2. Grill pitas on both sides to golden brown.

3. Place grilled pitas on a large platter and tent with foil to keep warm.

For the Yogurt Dipping Sauce and Chilies:

1. Combine lemon zest and juice, chopped dill and yogurt. Season to taste with salt.

2. Pour yogurt sauce into a serving bowl and place on platter with pitas.

3. Spoon prepared pickled chilies into a serving bowl and place on platter with pitas and yogurt.

Tip: Large metal skewers can be purchased at any specialty kitchen stores. Note: there will be leftover turkey for use in sandwiches for the next day.

Nutri Table (per serving):
Calories: 844
Protein: 97 g
Carbs: 21 g
Fat: 41 g
Sodium: 1,885 mg


Chef Chuck Hughes’ Al Pastor Style Turkey Tacos


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Photo: Courtesy of Think Turkey


Chuck Hughes, the youngest Canadian to win on Iron Chef America, has hosted Food Network’s Chuck’s Day Off, Chuck’s Eat the Street and Chuck & Danny’s Road Trip, and is co-owner and executive chef of Montreal hot spot Garde Manger. 


Serves: 4-6
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes



2 deboned turkey thighs, cut in half
1 diced onion
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 fresh lime in quarters

For Marinade:

1 cup water
1 freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 dried guajillo pepper
1 dried ancho chili pepper
3 small dried chipotle peppers
4 garlic cloves
1 cup chopped pineapple
1 tbsp achiote paste
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper


1. In a sauce pan add water, orange juice, vinegar and all three kinds of peppers. Bring to a boil, cut the heat, and let steep for 10 minutes. Add all other ingredients and blend to a paste in blender. Marinate 4 deboned turkey thighs for about 2-3 hours not much longer.

2. Grill on high for about 5 minutes on each side to get a char.

3. Cook another 20-25 minutes on indirect heat to finish cooking.

4. Let meat rest for 10 minutes and then chop.

5. Serve with warmed corn or flour tortillas, guacamole, pico de gallo, onion, cilantro and fresh lime and grilled pineapple.

Nutri Table (4 servings):
Calories: 206
Protein: 32 g
Carbs: 8 g
Fat: 6 g
Sodium: 402 mg

Recipes courtesy of Canadian Turkey (