Let’s Talk Turkey Prep!

If there is ever a year to break holiday tradition, it’s this year! With so many delicious ways to prepare a turkey, why not try something new for this Thanksgiving! Here are a few ways to break tradition and switch it up: 


Bourbon-Glazed Roast Turkey 


For the turkey: 

  • 8 tablespoons  
  • (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 1/4 cup  
  • packed brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon  
  • finely grated orange zest 
  • 1 teaspoon  
  • kosher salt, plus more for seasoning 
  • 1/4 teaspoon  
  • freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning 
  • (12- to 15-pound) whole turkey, thawed if frozen 
  • 2 cups  
  • low-sodium chicken or turkey broth 
  • 1/4 cup  
  • bourbon, such as Bulleit, Jim Beam, or Makers Mark 

For the gravy: 

  • Vegetable oil or unsalted butter, as needed 
  • 1/4 cup  
  • all-purpose flour 
  • 1 cup  
  • low-sodium chicken or turkey broth 
  • Up to 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or turkey broth, as needed 
  • 1 tablespoon  
  • bourbon 
  • Kosher salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
  • Roast the turkey: Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven, remove any racks above it, and heat to 450°F. Have a roasting pan fitted with a roasting rack ready. (If you don’t have a roasting rack, crumple up a few sheets of aluminum foil and place them on the bottom of a roasting pan.) 
  • Combine the butter, brown sugar, orange zest, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl and smash together with a spoon or rubber spatula until combined; set aside. 
  • Remove the turkey’s neck and giblets, or save for another use. Pat the cavity and the outside of the turkey dry with paper towels and place breast-side up on a cutting board or rimmed baking sheet. Loosen the skin on the breast and the legs by gently sliding your hand between the meat and the skin and separating it without tearing it. Distribute half of the butter evenly under the loosened skin. Season the outside and cavity of the turkey generously with salt and pepper. 
  • Place the turkey breast-side up on the roasting rack. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine if desired. Pour the broth into the roasting pan. 
  • Place the roasting pan in the oven. Immediately turn the temperature down to 350°F. 
  • While the turkey roasts, make the glaze. Melt the remaining butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the bourbon and bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally until the glaze has reduced slightly, about 10 minutes. 
  • After 1 1/2 hours, brush the turkey with the bourbon glaze every 20 minutes. Start checking the temperature after 2 hours total roasting time. The turkey is ready when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh not touching bone registers at least 165°F, 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours total (about 13 minutes per pound). 
  • When the turkey is ready, place the roasting pan on the stove or heatproof surface. Lift the neck end of the turkey up at an angle with a wadded-up paper towel so that the juices in the cavity pour out into the roasting pan. Transfer the turkey to a clean cutting board or serving platter and let rest at least 30 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, remove the roasting rack and make the gravy. 
  • Make the gravy: Fit a fine-mesh strainer over a heatproof medium bowl. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the roasting pan. Pour the pan juices through the strainer and discard the contents of the strainer. Set aside for a few minutes for the fat to rise to the surface. 
  • Spoon off 1/4 cup of the fat from the surface of the pan juices into a medium saucepan (if you don’t have enough fat, add oil or butter as needed to get to 1/4 cup). Spoon off and discard the remaining fat. Measure the remaining juices, known as drippings, and add broth as needed to get to 2 1/2 cups (if you have more than 2 1/2 cups of drippings already, that’s fine); set aside. 
  • Place the saucepan over medium-high heat until the fat is shimmering. Whisk in the flour and cook until slightly darkened in color, about 1 minute. Pour in the reserved pan juices and bourbon, whisk to combine, and bring to a simmer. Simmer until thickened to the desired consistency. Taste and season with salt and more coarsely ground pepper as needed. Pour the gravy into a serving bowl or gravy boat and serve with the carved turkey. 


Adobo Turkey with Red-Chile Gravy 


For adobo

  • 4 dried guajillo chiles (2 ounces), wiped clean 
  • 3 dried ancho chiles (1 1/2 ounces), wiped clean 
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds 
  • 1 (1/2-inch) piece cinnamon stick, smashed 
  • 2 whole allspice 
  • 1 clove 
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme leaves 
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar 
  • 3 tablespoons water 
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 

For turkey and gravy: 

  • 1 (12-to 14-pound) turkey, neck and giblets (excluding liver) reserved for turkey stock 
  • 2 cups water, divided 
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
  • About 4 cups classic turkey stock, divided 
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 
  • Melted unsalted butter if necessary 



For adobo:

  • Slit chiles lengthwise, then stem and seed. Heat a large heavy skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat until hot, then toast chiles in batches, opening them flat, turning and pressing with tongs, until more pliable and slightly changed in color, about 30 seconds per batch. 
  • Transfer to a bowl and cover chiles with boiling-hot water, then soak until softened, about 15 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, toast spices in a small heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. 
  • Drain chiles, discarding liquid, and purée in a blender with spices, garlic, herbs, vinegar, water, oil, and 2 teaspoon salt until very smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside 1/2 cup adobo for gravy. 

Marinate turkey: 

  • Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt evenly in turkey cavities and all over skin, then rub remaining adobo (a scant 3/4 cup) all over turkey, including cavities. Fold neck skin under body, then tuck wing tips under breast and tie drumsticks together with string. Transfer to rack in roasting pan and marinate, covered with plastic wrap and chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 24. 

Roast turkey: 

  • Let turkey stand, covered, at room temperature 1 hour. 
  • Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in lower third. 
  • Add 1 cup water to pan and roast turkey 1 hour. 
  • Brush turkey with oil and add remaining cup water, then tent loosely with foil and rotate pan. Roast (if bottom of pan becomes dry, add 1/2 cup more water) until an instant-read thermometer inserted into fleshy part of each thigh (test both; close to but not touching bone) registers 170°F, 1 3/4 to 2 3/4 hours more (total roasting time: 2 3/4 to 3 3/4 hours). 
  • Carefully tilt turkey so juices from inside large cavity run into pan. Transfer turkey to a platter and let stand, uncovered, 30 minutes (temperature of thigh meat will rise to 175 to 180°F). 

Make gravy while turkey stands: 

  • Straddle roasting pan across 2 burners, then add 1 cup turkey stock and boil over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 2 minutes. Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into 2-quart measure and skim off fat (or use a fat separator), reserving fat. Add enough turkey stock to liquid to bring total to 5 cups. 
  • Whisk together flour, 6 tablespoon reserved fat (if there is less, add melted butter), and reserved 1/2 cup adobo in a heavy medium saucepan, then cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 3 minutes (mixture will be thick). Add pan juices and stock in a fast stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil, whisking, then simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt. 
  • Serve turkey with gravy. 


Smoked Whole Turkey 

  • 1 fresh whole turkey (15 to 17 pounds), patted dry with paper towels 
  • Canola oil, for brushing 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 cup chicken stock 
  • 2 tablespoons honey 
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 

Special equipment: wood chips (such as hickory, apple or pecan wood) soaked in cold water for at least 4 hours and up to 48 hours; a charcoal grill or smoker 

  • Remove the turkey from the fridge and allow to sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour before cooking. 
  • Meanwhile, prepare a charcoal grill or smoker for indirect heat, at approximately 275 degrees F. Sprinkle in wood chips (such as hickory, apple or pecan wood) that have soaked in cold water for at least 4 hours and up to 48 hours, and allow them to char before cooking. 
  • Place the turkey in a roasting pan fitted with a rack. Brush the entire turkey with the oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. 
  • Place the turkey in the grill or smoker and cook for 45 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, mix together the chicken stock, honey and vinegar. Baste the turkey after cooking for 45 minutes. Repeat the basting every 45 minutes until the internal temperature of the thigh registers 165 degrees F and the breast registers 155 degrees F, about 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the bird. 
  • Remove the turkey to a large cutting board and let rest for at least 20 minutes before carving. 




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