A little over three years ago I got my first taste of the Afro-Asian-American food created by Chef Alexander Smalls at the then newly opened Cecil in Harlem. I was transfixed by the flavors and textures of dishes like oxtail dumplings with green apple curry, the crispy okra fries, macaroni and cheese casserole and my favorite the yassa chicken with sticky rice and long beans!
With recent news The Cecil and Minton’s would consolidate into the Minton’s space at the end of this month (The Cecil will be available as an event space only), I was happy to hear signature Cecil dishes I love would remain on the menu.
Thankfully Executive Chef JJ Johnson gave me the recipe for The Cecil’s yassa chicken, suggesting the marinade would be perfect for a holiday turkey. Perfect timing! Have at it!
1 ½ cup soy sauce
1 ½ cup grapeseed oil
¼ cup fresh mint leaves with stems
1 medium onion, chopped
1 birdseye chili with stem
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 16-pound turkey (or 4, 4-pound chickens)
To prepare the marinade, add first nine ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until combined.
In a large container season the bird(s) with salt and marinade both inside the cavity and out. Cover and refrigerate for up at least 24 hours, up to two days.
Remove the bird from refrigerator and bring to room temperature, 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Set a rack over a large rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the turkey on the rack leaving some of marinade in the cavity. Roast turkey for 3 hours (1 hour for chickens) or until the inner thighs register 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.