Viroqua Food Co-op Recipe Blog

Fennel Spice Rubbed Turkey

Posted byCarlos Candelaria on Tue, Nov 01, 2016 @ 01:33 PM

Although you may have not already met Carlos Candelaria, one of our VFC Cooks, you may already know Carlos-headshot-RGB.jpga little something about him if you’ve eaten at our hot bar in the past couple years.

He has been a cook for over 30 years all over the United States, and beyond. His history of working for many multi-culturally-diverse chefs in different regions of the country have given him his knack for cooking ethnic cuisine.

With each new restaurant Carlos works at, 
he starts a new recipe journal. Depending on seasonal menu modifications, he anticipates filling at least two to three journals every year – and has now amassed somewhere around 100 total journals. Each page mimics a grocery list of ingredient quantities – with close to no instructions.

With this in mind, we weren’t sure what we’d get when we asked him for an easy-to-cook holiday meat recipe. Funny enough, Carlos worked with chef Michael Chiarello 10 years ago. Chiarello had posted this same recipe online, along with an accompanying video tutorial, which is a total lifesaver for you turkey-cooking novices. 

While Carlos “doesn’t do repeat recipes,” by special request from his friends and family, this Fennel Spiced Turkey and Gravy will make an appearance at the 
holiday table for a third year now.

Use your senses and smarts and Carlos’ tips to cook this year’s holiday turkey. You will have plenty to be thankful for while creating a “must-repeat” recipe, and an all-around gorgeous bird! 


  • Instead of one big bird, consider purchasing 2 smaller birds. They offer more meat and take less time to cook in the oven!
  • Make the Fennel Spice Rub in advance. Then gather all your ingredients and start the turkey directions. While turkey starts cooking, you can then start working on the gravy. After the turkey comes out of the oven, you can then finish off the gravy with the leftover pan juices if you want your gravy to have a slight-licorice taste (due to the fennel spice rub)!
  • Consider utilizing short-rimmed baking pan to properly heat turkey (see image below; watch video tutorial above for instructions).
  • IMPORTANT: remove turkeys from pans & let rest for 15 mins. before carving, as this allows juices to relax into meat.



  • 1 cup fennel seeds
  • 3 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 Tbsp white peppercorns
  • 3 Tbsp kosher salt


  • Put fennel, coriander & peppercorns in heavy pan over medium heat. Stir frequently to toast seeds evenly.
  • When light brown & fragrant, pour seeds onto plate to cool completely.
  • After cooled, pour seeds in blender & add salt. Blend to fine powder, shaking blender to occasionally redistribute seeds.
  • Store in tightly-sealed glass jar in cool place for up to 1 month; up to 6 months in refrigerator; up to 12 months in freezer.

Carlos-turkey prep-RGB.jpg



  • 2 x 8-10 pound whole turkeys
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup fennel spice rub
  • 8 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 4 large carrots, halved lengthwise
  • 8 celery stalks


  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Remove neck & giblets from turkey, then put into large saucepan to start gravy.
  • Wash turkeys inside & out, then dry well. Coat inside & out with half of olive oil. Season outside of each turkey generously with spice rub, pressing to adhere. Place 4 rosemary sprigs & 2 halved lemons inside the cavity of each turkey.
  • Arrange 4 halved carrots & 4 celery stalks on each of 2 half-sheet pans or baking sheets (see image below; watch video for instructions). Position each turkey on top of carrots & celery so turkey does not rest directly on bottom of pan. Drizzle turkeys with remaining olive oil.
  • Once oven has been held at 425°F for 10-20mins., insert turkeys. Roast until meat thermometer reads 165°F (insert deep into thigh, but away from bone) & juices run clear when pierced with fork (~2-2.5hrs; begin checking at 2hrs). Remove from pans & let rest for 15mins. before carving. roasted_turkey_fennel_rub-RGB.jpg



  • 1 Qt. chicken stock
  • 2 small white onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour (or flour of choice)
  • ¾ cup butter
  • Salt & pepper, to taste


  • Add neck & giblets from turkey, chicken stock, onions, carrots & celery to start broth-stock to be added to roux. Simmer on med-low heat for ~20mins.
  • In separate pan, melt butter. Once it stops foaming, add flour & cook 2-3 minutes, whisking vigorously to eliminate clumps. This creates blonde roux.
  • Once roux is completed, whisk in strained stock. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer (8-10mins. until thickened; longer if preference is thicker). Reduce down to ~2 cups. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  • Cover & hold to temperature while turkey rests. Transfer to gravy boat & serve.

Looking for more turkey tips? CLICK HERE to read about turkey preparation guidelines and extra suggestions!

Tags: Recipes, Turkey