There are traditionalists when it comes to serving Thanksgiving turkey. They believe turkey should be prepped simply, roasted golden brown and served with a simple gravy.
And then there is the “I cannot serve another plain roasted turkey for Thanksgiving” crowd.
So this story’s for you, oh adventurous cook in search of an unusual turkey spin.
We consulted local chefs for a few interesting turkey twists. Here, you’ll find their suggestions and recipes.
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SHINY, HAPPY TURKEY
“Everybody does glazed hams for Easter, but you don’t really hear people talking about glazing their turkeys for Thanksgiving,” said Chef William Mueller, co-owner with his wife, Shannon, of Babblin’ Babs Bistro in Tacoma’s Proctor neighborhood.
“It’s a way to get more flavor on the turkey just before serving,” added Mueller.
But what about deeper flavor? Glazes, which are added at the end of the roasting so the glaze does not burn, only add surface flavor. So how does a home cook get that delicious flavor throughout the turkey?
The solution is a solution – a brine solution, that is. To inject the meat itself with flavor, Mueller suggests an overnight brine, soaking the turkey in a salt-sugar solution that injects the turkey with flavor. Use a complementary set of flavors from brine to glaze to get a flavor-packed turkey.
We consulted Mueller in developing a recipe for Apricot Rosemary Glazed Turkey soaked in an apricot wheat beer brine that was sweetened with apricot juice and further flavored with cider vinegar, herbs, salt and sugar. If you’re not a fan of the flavor of wheat ale, you can always skip the beer and use apricot juice and cider vinegar. Find the recipe below. A few tips to remember when using a glaze:
Prep: Have your glaze ingredients ready and read the recipe in advance to plan for each stage of the roasting. If you’re uncertain how it will turn out, you should experiment with a chicken or turkey prior to Thanksgiving to make sure your test run yields results you like.
Roasting: Follow your normal roasting protocol for the turkey, but make sure the temperature is not above 325-350 degrees. Glazes made with sugar can burn, leaving an acrid coating on your turkey.
Glazing: Brush on the glaze with a silicone brush during the last 20 minutes of roasting. This can be tricky because you want to ensure the turkey does not overcook. For best results, brush on the glaze when the turkey is close to done. When we were testing this recipe, we brushed on the glaze when the turkey had reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees. (The USDA suggests cooking turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Use an internal thermometer to test the temperature.) By the time the glaze was done, so was the turkey.
Troubleshooting: Turkey still undercooked, but your glaze is nicely browned? You can return the turkey to the oven, but you should use foil to tent the turkey to make sure the glaze doesn’t burn. Carefully spray foil with nonstick spray and drape it over the turkey so that you don’t stick the foil to the glaze. Inserting a few toothpicks in the breast will prevent the foil from sticking. Return it to the oven and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Glazing flavors: For consistent flavor, try glazes with complementary flavors that match the flavors of the brine. In this section you’ll find recipes for apricot glazed turkey, cranberry glazed turkey, and pomegranate glazed turkey, but here is a fast recipe from Mueller. Take a jar of Patak’s Major Grey mango chutney and blend in a food processor with a pinch of curry powder and a splash of vanilla extract (optional).
BREAK IT DOWN
Two local chefs suggest trying something way out of the Thanksgiving box: breaking down a turkey and cooking it in parts.
The drawback: You won’t have that traditional bird to present from the kitchen. But how many of us carve the turkey in our kitchen where nobody ever sees it?
The benefit: Cooking a broken-down turkey – as in thighs, legs, wings and breasts butchered and cooked separately – can mean a payoff of evenly cooked turkey and a shorter cooking time.
Chef Thad Lyman, executive chef and co-owner with his wife, Katie Doherty, of Brix 25 in Gig Harbor, offers a recipe for Braised Sous Vide Turkey. The technique is tricky, but one that experienced cooks could tackle. The recipe requires brining, braising, then cooking the turkey sous vide in a vacuum sealed bag (borrow one if you don’t have a sealer). The breast is cooked in a stock pot on the stove top on Thanksgiving, then the legs and thighs are roasted.
Mueller of Babblin’ Babs Bistro suggests preparing a truly nontraditional turkey with a spin borrowed from a French technique commonly used for chicken – Turkey Coq Au Vin. “It saves your oven for all the side dishes and it doesn’t need tending like a roasted turkey,” said Mueller.
Another of his favorites, which he shared two years ago with News Tribune readers, is Cedar Plank Turkey, which requires butchering the turkey into parts and cooking them separately on a grill on cedar planks.
Sue Kidd: 253-597-8270 firstname.lastname@example.org
Apricot Rosemary Glazed Turkey With Apricot Wheat Beer Brine
For the brine:
4 bottles Pyramid Breweries Apricot Ale
24 ounces apricot juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup salt
2 bay leaves
3-4 sprigs rosemary
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
For the glaze:
1 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons minced garlic
To brine the turkey: Combine all brine ingredients in oversized stock pot. Remove giblets and neck from turkey cavities, rinse, pat dry, then submerge turkey. If needed, add water to completely submerge turkey. Brine overnight in refrigerator. For a concentrated flavor, brine longer, but the flavor may be overwhelming.
To roast the turkey: Remove turkey from brine solution an hour before roasting. Pat dry with paper towels. Rub entire turkey with a stick of butter, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast using your favorite method.
For the glaze: An hour before the turkey is finished, microwave the preserves for about a minute until smooth. Stir in rosemary and garlic. About 20 minutes before the turkey finishes roasting, baste on the glaze using a silicone brush. Turkey is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees (a standard established by the USDA).
Source: Recipe developed by News Tribune food editor Sue Kidd and Chef William Mueller of Babblin’ Babs Bistro, 2724 N. Proctor St., Tacoma; 253-761-9099; www.babblinbabs.com.
Braised Sous Vide Turkey
1 whole turkey, butchered
For the brine:
1/4 pound salt
11/2 medium onions
1/2 gallon water
1/2 pound brown sugar
3 tablespoon peppercorns
5 thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon coriander
4-5 stems of basil
20-30 ice cubes
For the braising liquid for the thighs:
Jar of your favorite tomato sauce
1 green pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 bottle of white wine
Two days before the holiday: Butcher whole turkey, removing breasts and thigh legs. Save the remaining turkey carcass for use in gravy. Brine the breasts and thighs overnight. Place turkey into brine mixture and cover, store in refrigerator overnight.
For the brine: Combine all ingredients except ice into a large pot. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and dump in ice.
One day before the holiday: Remove turkey from brine and discard the brine mix. Pat down the breast and thighs with a paper towel (make sure they are dry). Add four tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet and heat to medium high. Sear all sides of the turkey portions. Then:
For the turkey breasts: Take each breast and place in separate plastic bags for vacuum packing; add crushed garlic, chopped bacon and any variety of herbs. Vacuum seal the bags and place in the refrigerator overnight.
For the turkey thighs: Take the thighs and put into an oven-safe pan. For the braising liquid, combine all ingredients listed above. Add braising liquid and place in oven for three hours at 275 degrees. Remove from oven, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.
On the day of the holiday: Two to four hours before dinner, fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a simmer (at least 190 degrees). Remove breasts from the refrigerator and place in simmering stock pot. Leave them alone (really nothing else needs to be done). Remove 2 hours later (can be left up to 4 hours), cut open the bag and serve. The turkey will be super juicy.
One hour before dinner: Take the thighs out of the cooler and reheat in a 275-degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove and serve with breasts (you can serve thighs whole or shred the meat off of the bone).
Source: Chef Thad Lyman of Brix 25, 7707 Pioneer Way, Gig Harbor; 253-858-6626; www.harborbrix.com.
Apple Cider and Rosemary Marinated Turkey
Apple Cider Marinade:
1 (10-12 pound) fresh turkey or fully thawed frozen turkey
6 cups apple cider
2 cups water
6 sprigs fresh rosemary (rub between your hands to bruise for added flavor)
2 onions, coarsely chopped, plus 1 or 2 onions, quartered, optional
6 garlic cloves
8 thyme sprigs
Zest of 1 lemon
2 (14-ounce) cans low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
To make marinade: Place a Reynolds Turkey-Size Oven Bag inside another oven bag of the same size so it is double thickness. Remove neck and innards from turkey neck cavity; discard or save for another use. Rinse the bird inside and out.
Place turkey in the inner bag in a large bowl or deep pan (we used a disposable foil roasting pan), breast side down. Add the cider, water and rosemary sprigs. Remove as much air as possible from bags and seal each bag separately so as much of the turkey as possible is covered with the liquid (at least the entire breast should be submerged). Refrigerate 8 hours to overnight (you can turn the turkey if you wish).
To roast the turkey: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain marinade. Lightly rinse the cavity of your turkey but not the outside skin. Pat the turkey dry (if you drain the turkey in the morning and aren’t planning to roast it until the afternoon, let it air dry, uncovered, in the refrigerator until roasting time), tie the legs together (or place under clip on turkey) and tuck the wing tips over the back and underneath the turkey. When ready to roast, place the chopped onions, garlic, thyme, lemon zest and broth in the bottom of the roasting pan. Place a rack over the liquid in the bottom of the pan (we used two stacked wire cooling racks). Salt and pepper the turkey cavities. Place turkey, breast side down, on rack; turkey should not be sitting in liquid (you can hold the turkey in position with the onion quarters and later serve the roasted onions).
Combine butter and parsley. Brush the back of the turkey with the butter mixture. Roast 45 minutes; if the turkey begins to brown too much, carefully tent with aluminum foil.
Remove the turkey from the oven (the oven will be very hot and there may be some steam so open it carefully) and reduce heat to 350 degrees. Using tongs, carefully turn the turkey, breast side up, on the rack in your roasting pan. Brush butter mixture over the breast and legs of the turkey and return to oven. Roast about 1 hour and 35 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into a thigh registers 165 degrees – make sure it is not touching a bone. You should start checking the temperature after about 1 hour.
Periodically brush the turkey with butter mixture while it roasts and rotate the pan if one side of turkey browns more than the other. It the turkey begins to get too brown, tent it with a piece of aluminum foil. Remove the cooked turkey from the oven, tent it with aluminum foil and let it sit 15 to 20 minutes before carving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Per serving: 468 calories, 48 percent calories from fat, 25 grams total fat, 10 grams saturated fat, 164 milligrams cholesterol, 8 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram total fiber, 6 grams total sugars, 7 grams net carbs, 50 grams protein, 168 milligrams sodium.
Source: Personal chef Jeremy Hanlon. Recipe courtesy of the Sun Sentinel.
Roasted Garlic and Herb Turkey with Forest Mushroom and Salami Stuffing
Start to finish: 51/2 hours; Makes a 12- to 14-pound turkey with stuffing to serve 12
For the roasted garlic and herb rub:
4 cups peeled garlic cloves (about 14 to 16 heads)
3 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 bunch fresh rosemary, leaves only, minced
1 bunch fresh marjoram or oregano, leaves only
1/2 bunch fresh thyme, leaves only
For the turkey:
12- to 14-pound turkey
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
For the stuffing:
1-ounce package dried porcini mushrooms
3 cups chicken or turkey broth
8 ounces sliced genoa salami, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/4 cup chopped shallot
1 pound mixed mushrooms, sliced (such as trumpet, oyster, crimini, shiitake, maitake)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
8 ounces fontina cheese, grated and divided
2 eggs, beaten
1 loaf stale country bread, cubed and toasted (about 8 cups)
To make the roasted garlic and herb rub, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the garlic and the oil in a small baking dish — a loaf pan works well. Ensure that all of the garlic is covered with oil. Cover the pan with foil and roast for 11/2 hours, or until the garlic is very soft and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Once the garlic has cooled, drain the oil. Reserve 1/4 cup of the oil for the stuffing and the rest for another use.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic, rosemary, marjoram and thyme. Process until smooth. Reserve 1/4 cup of the mixture for the stuffing.
To make the turkey, heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the turkey in a roasting pan fitted with a roasting rack. Gently loosen the skin of the turkey, being careful not to tear it. Rub the roasted garlic mixture under the skin and inside the cavity of the bird. Be sure to rub it on both the legs and the breasts, turning the bird as needed.
Rub more of the mixture on the outside of the skin, then season the entire bird with salt and black pepper. Roast for 21/2 to 3 hours, or until the breast reaches 160 degrees and the thickest part of the thigh reaches 170 degrees.
During roasting, turn the pan occasionally to encourage even cooking. If the turkey begins to brown too much, tent with foil, as needed. Allow the turkey to rest in the pan for 10 minutes before moving to a platter.
When the turkey is halfway through roasting, begin the stuffing. Coat a large casserole dish or a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
In a medium skillet over high heat, combine the porcini mushrooms and broth. Bring to a boil, then remove the skillet from heat and allow to cool.
In a large sauté pan over medium-high, heat the reserved 1/4 cup garlic oil. Add the salami and sauté until crisped and lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the onion, celery and shallot and continue to cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the sliced mushrooms, salt and pepper. Continue to cook until the mushrooms are tender and beginning to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove the sauté pan from heat and stir in the reserved roasted garlic puree, porcini and broth mixture, the artichoke hearts, three-quarters of the fontina and the eggs. Add the bread cubes, toss well, then spoon into the prepared casserole dish. Top with the remaining fontina and bake for 35 to 45 minutes.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 1,052 calories; 552 calories from fat (52 percent of total calories); 63 g fat (16 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 291 mg cholesterol; 37 g carbohydrate; 81 g protein; 3 g fiber; 1,350 mg sodium.
Source: The Associated Press
Pomegranate Glazed Turkey
Serves: 12. Preparation time: 40 minutes. Total time: 4 hours.
1 turkey, 12 to 14 pounds, giblets and neck removed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Favorite all-purpose seasoning, optional
1 large apple, cut into quarters
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
1 whole bulb of garlic, top quarter cut off
Water, wine, broth, apple cider or apple juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 to 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon cardamom, optional
To prep: Season the turkey the night before or first thing that day and refrigerate so the skin dries. If desired, make an extra recipe of the glaze and serve it as a sauce for the turkey.
Rinse the turkey inside and out and pat dry. Sprinkle the turkey all over with the salt, pepper and all-purpose seasoning. Place in the refrigerator in a baking dish or roasting pan for at least two hours or overnight.
When ready to roast the turkey, remove it from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before roasting. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Stuff 2 apple quarters and 2 onion quarters in the neck of the turkey; fold skin flap over the back and secure. Place the remaining apple and onion quarters in the cavity of the turkey along with the bulb of garlic.
Secure the legs with kitchen string.
Place turkey on a rack in a roasting pan. Add liquid of choice to the bottom of the pan.
Roast the turkey for 40 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Rotate the pan and continue roasting another 2 to 21/2 hours. Baste the turkey occasionally with the pan juices. If the turkey browns too much, tent it with foil.
Meanwhile, to make the glaze, in a small saucepan dissolve the cornstarch in half the pomegranate juice; stir in remaining juice, honey, vinegar and, if using, cardamom. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, whisking until smooth.
Brush about half the glaze over entire surface of the turkey; return to oven. Roast 10 minutes longer; repeat with remaining glaze and roast 10 to 20 minutes longer or until turkey reaches 165 degrees.
Remove from the oven and let turkey rest 30 minutes before carving.
280 calories (35 percent from fat ), 11 g fat (2 g sat. fat ), 11 g carbohydrates, 32 g protein, 370 mg sodium, 90 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber.
Source: Adapted from “The Best of Relish Cookbook” by the editors of Relish Magazine (The Countryman Press, $24.95).
Cranberry Glazed Turkey
1 cup cranberry sauce (canned or homemade)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons chili powder
To prep the turkey: Rub turkey breast with olive oil, sprinkle with coriander before roasting. Add salt and pepper, if desired.
To cook the turkey, roast as you would normally roast your turkey, but add the glaze during the final 20 minutes of roasting. Be careful to watch the glazed turkey so that it does not burn.
To make the glaze: Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Simmer until thick.
Chef William Mueller of Babblin’ Babs Bistro, 2724 N. Proctor St., Tacoma; 253-761-9099; www.babblinbabs.com.
La Turquie Vin
1/4 cup grape seed oil
1/2 pound diced pancetta
Both turkey legs, wings, and thighs, cut and separated into pieces
Fresh ground white pepper
1/2 cup flour
1 cup cubed white onion
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
One bottle of Gewrztraminer wine
2 cups veal or chicken stock
2 tablespoons thyme leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons tarragon leaves, chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and cut on a bias
3 cups white button mushrooms, small and whole
30 pearl onions, peeled or 1 10-ounce bag of frozen pearl onions
Parsley, chopped for garnish
In a large saucepan, cook pancetta until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain. Season turkey with white pepper, then dredge in flour. In the same pan as you cooked the pancetta, add oil and lightly sear turkey pieces. Remove and place in a large slow cooker on high. Add onions and garlic to pan, cooking until translucent. Stir in remaining flour to create a roux.
Slowly add wine and stock, whisking as you go until it starts forming a sauce. Once thickened, add sauce to slow cooker with herbs, pearl onions, parsnips and mushrooms. Cover and let cook for six hours on high or eight hours on low. Once cooked, remove turkey and vegetables to a platter. Transfer the sauce to a pan if not thick enough and reduce on stove top, skimming excess fat from the top.
Garnish with pancetta, freshly chopped parsley and extra herbs if desired.
Serve this with a roasted or grilled breast of turkey sliced and served fanned out.
Source: William Mueller from Babblin’ Babs Bistro, 2724 N. Proctor St., Tacoma; 253-761-9099; www.babblinbabs.com.