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Tunisian-Spiced Turkey with Garlic Couscous and Harissa Gravy

Photography: Randy Mayor; Styling: Melanie J. Clarke
Yield 12 servings (serving size: 6 ounces turkey, about 3/4 cup couscous, and about 2 tablespoons gravy)
This spicy entrée is a departure from the usual holiday turkey. It's cooked breast-side-down for 45 minutes, then flipped to finish cooking; this unusual procedure helps keep the breast meat moist. Prepare the spice paste for the turkey and the yogurt mixture for the gravy up to a day ahead; store separately in the refrigerator. Use 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper in the gravy if you prefer mild heat.


  • Turkey:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 (12-pound) fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • Gravy:
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 2 red jalapeño or Fresno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Couscous:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked couscous
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Nutrition Information

  • calories 521
  • caloriesfromfat 24 %
  • fat 13.7 g
  • satfat 4 g
  • monofat 4.6 g
  • polyfat 3.2 g
  • protein 57.8 g
  • carbohydrate 38.1 g
  • fiber 3.2 g
  • cholesterol 132 mg
  • iron 4.4 mg
  • sodium 771 mg
  • calcium 105 mg

How to Make It

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.

  2. To prepare turkey, place first 3 ingredients in a small skillet, and cook over medium-low heat 2 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, shaking pan frequently. Place peppercorn mixture in a spice or coffee grinder; process until finely ground. Place mixture in a small bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, and nutmeg to form a paste.

  3. Remove and discard giblets and neck from turkey. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Rub spice paste under loosened skin, and rub over breast and drumsticks. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under turkey.

  4. Place turkey, breast side down, on the rack of a broiler pan or roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Pour 2 cans broth into shallow roasting pan; place rack in pan. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes. Carefully turn turkey over (breast side up); bake turkey an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in thigh registers 180°. Let stand 10 minutes.

  5. To prepare gravy, place a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measure. Pour pan drippings into bag; let stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to the top). Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain drippings into a medium saucepan, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Combine 1/3 cup water and cornstarch, stirring with a whisk. Stir the cornstarch mixture into pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 3 minutes or until slightly thick.

  6. Place coriander, caraway, and cumin in a small skillet; cook over medium-low heat 2 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, shaking pan frequently. Place the mixture in a spice or coffee grinder; process until finely ground. Add crushed red pepper, jalapeños, and 2 garlic cloves; process until a paste forms. Remove spice paste from grinder; combine spice paste and yogurt. Add yogurt mixture to broth mixture; simmer 3 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

  7. To prepare couscous, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 8 garlic cloves; sauté 1 minute. Add 1 cup water and 2 cans broth to pan; bring to a boil. Stir in couscous and currants. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 8 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Stir in parsley, cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Serve turkey with couscous and gravy. Discard skin before serving.

  8. Note: Insert long-handled tongs or a heavy spatula into the cavity to support the weight of the turkey, and use another set of tongs or spatula to turn the bird.