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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Dec. 13, 2022

MyCG Holiday Menu: The main course

By Zach Shapiro, MyCG Writer

Last week, MyCG inaugurated the 2022 holiday menu with a delicious Oyster Leek Stew. This week brings a special entrée recipe from Chief Petty Officer Ava Stow, a culinary specialist (CS) and Commandant’s Flag Mess manager at Coast Guard Headquarters. Stow has over 10 years of experience as a CS, and has served at Air Station Sitka, Alaska, Station Cape Disappointment, Washington, and on cutters including Kukui, Dolphin, Shearwater, and Forward. She joined the Commandant’s Flag Mess in June.

MyCG: Tell us about your background. How and why did you become a culinary specialist?

Stow: I’m from Portsmouth, Virginia, and enlisted in the Coast Guard in December 2011. I am a proud graduate of the Culinary Institute of Virginia (class of 2009) and have over 15 years of industry experience. I’m studying for my bachelor’s degree in government logistics and acquisitions. My husband is also a Coast Guard member. We have a two-year-old daughter and a golden doodle named Branch. In our free time, we love going fishing, crabbing, and to county festivals.

The recipe: Caribbean Smoked Turkey


  • Smoker
  • Turkey Bag
  • Blender


  • 10-15 lbs. turkey, cleaned and trimmed of excess fat 
  • 1 onion, yellow
  • 6 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 limes
  • 4 cloves of garlic


  • ½ cup whole allspice
  • 4 tbsp. black peppercorn or black pepper powder 
  • 16 green onions
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 cup garlic, peeled
  • 24 sprigs thyme, destemmed 
  • 8 hot peppers, destemmed (Scotch bonnet is preferred, but any type works)
  • 4 tbsp. kosher salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar 
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup oil, neutral flavor
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 4 tbsp. browning seasoning

Put all seasonings in blender and blend until smooth. Stuff the turkey with the onion, thyme, lime, and garlic. Tie the legs up and pin the wings down to help keep its shape. 

Place turkey in the turkey bag and pour the blended seasonings on top. Tie the bag up well, double bagging if necessary. Massage the seasoning all around the turkey. Place in fridge for 36 hours, turning the bag every 12 hours. 

Remove the turkey from the fridge and thaw to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Set your smoker to 225 degrees. Be sure to place a drip pan underneath your turkey to catch the juices. 

Smoke your turkey at 225 degrees for 1 hour. Crank up the heat to 350 degrees and continue to smoke until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. A 12-pound turkey usually takes 4-5 hours of smoking time.

What is the story behind your recipe? Why did you choose it?

I have always loved having a jerk rubbed smoked turkey for Thanksgiving. The flavors go so well with all the side dishes, and the leftovers are to die for!

How did you learn to cook? Who is your favorite chef?

I started working in restaurants when I was 14 and could never imagine my professional life revolving around anything other than food. My favorite chef is Alton Brown due to his scientific logic about how food works.

In the News: 

Announcing the 2022 MyCG Holiday Menu