Wild Turkey Barabocoa

Last year, during our Ocellated Turkey hunt in Campeche, our group was treated to some absolutely amazing local cooking by our camp chefs. One of the great discoveries of that experience was achiote paste. Achiote paste or annatto, is made from the seeds of the achiote plant; it is ground and mixed with various spices, herbs, garlic and used as one of the building blocks of the local cuisine.

It brings a deep red color to the recipes it is used in, and the flavor is mild in small amounts but a bit peppery and early when used more generously.

Upon returning home a couple of weeks ago, from our hosted ocellated turkey hunt, I was excited to bring it into my own recipes and bring back the taste and feeling of another great hunt in the jungle.

Incorporating it into one of my favorite Barbacoa recipes, it adds a new, albeit mild, flavor profile to an always popular dish in our home.

Traditionally, we throw it in some warm, fresh corn tortillas, but if you prefer flour it is equally delicious, or even on top of some rice with cilantro and a shot of fresh lime juice it makes a great bowl dish.


Wild Turkey Barbarcoa

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Marinating Time: four hours to overnight

Cooking Time: 6 to 8 hours


• 3lb of wild turkey (breast and/or thigh)


• 1 cup of orange juice

• juice of 2 limes

• 1 cup apple cider vinegar

• 6 cloves garlic

• 1 onion - chopped

• 1 tablespoon brown sugar

• 2 tablespoons of Achiote Paste (while available at most grocery stores or online, 1 tbsp cumin is a substitute)

• 1/2 tablespoon Mexican oregano (regular also works)

• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

• 1/2 can of chipotle chilis in adobo 

• ¾ teaspoon salt (more to taste)

• ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

• 2 cups of broth (I use my own wild turkey broth, but chicken broth works well too)

• 3 bay leaves

• fresh cilantro for garnish

• tortillas (flour or corn)

• fresh lime wedges


1.) Cut the meat into large pieces, 3 to 4 inches each or so. 

2.) Place meat in a non-metal bowl or container, with a lid if possible.

3.) In a food processor add orange juice, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, onion, brown sugar, achiote paste (or cumin), oregano, cloves, chipotle chilis, salt, pepper. Pulse until well blended.

4.) Pour marinade over the meat, close securely and place in refrigerator for 4 hours to overnight.

5.) Remove from refrigerator, and place meat and marinade in a slow cooker.

6.) Using the broth, make sure that the meat is just covered with liquid, add bay leaves.

7.) Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6 hours. 

8.) Test meat for desired doneness, it should shred easily with two forks.

9.) Remove meat from slow cooker and shred completely.

10.) Remove bay leaves and discard.

11.) Return meat to cooker, with juices, and allow to absorb on a warm setting.

12.) Serve on tortillas, with some fresh cilantro and a hit of fresh squeezed lime.


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