Variations on the Thanksgiving Turkey
"This is the best turkey I've ever tasted."
That's what you want to hear. But first ask yourself, "Do I want to roast a whole one again?" If so, we have the tips to turn out a truly moist bird. But if guests are ready for something a bit different, read on ...
Forget dry, tasteless turkey. A rub of roasted garlic and fresh sage permeates every ounce of the bird, while a Dijon and white wine baste locks in moisture for juicy, tender meat. Save the giblets for our Classic Turkey Gravy. If your turkey starts to overbrown after the first hour in the oven, cover loosely with foil, and continue roasting. Remember to let the turkey rest so juices can redistribute and the bird can cool enough to carve.
Brown Sugar-Cured Turkey with Apple-Bourbon Gravy
Roasting dark-meat turkey pieces on a bed of vegetables, fruit, and herbs adds deep flavor to the produce and the gravy.
Turkey pros swear by brining for tender, succulent meat. Line a disposable roasting pan with the brining bag before adding liquid and turkey. If it won't fit in your fridge, nestle in a cooler with ice—the temperature will stay in the safe zone until you're ready to roast. Make sure to pat the bird very dry after brining so the extra liquid doesn’t slow down the roast.
Rosemary-Orange Roast Turkey
We like to give the bird a pretty finishing sheen by brushing on savory-sweet marmalade glaze. If you don't like the slightly bitter flavor of marmalade, you can substitute currant jelly for tart, bright flavor. Fresh rosemary brings the flavors of the turkey to life and will make your kitchen smell amazing. With a splash of citrus, this turkey is anything but bland, without being doused in high calorie glazes and sauces.
French Onion Turkey Breast
Guests will swoon—we know we did—over this masterful turkey breast. Caramelized onions become the base for a gravy that tastes like the best French onion soup ever. Don’t fret if the sliced onions overflow from the pan at first; cooked slowly, they will collapse to a fraction of their original volume. The bone keeps the breast meat moist and props up the breast in the pan so it can brown evenly. Save the bone for turkey stock. If you leave the skin on, as shown, it adds 20 calories and 1g sat fat per serving. Serve with our Skillet Green Bean Casserole, Classic Herb Stuffing, Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, and Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce.
Applewood chips lend a slightly sweet and fruity flavor to the meat. You can also try smoking the turkey with cherry or alder wood chips for more delicate smoked flavor.
Honey-Bourbon Spatchcocked Turkey
The brine is all the seasoning you need for this fantastic bird. While the amount of bourbon used in the brine may seem generous, it will impart a very subtle flavor to the meat once all the water is added, diluting it slightly. If you want a more intense smoke flavor, add a handful of soaked applewood chips to the grill. For a deeply bronzed, almost mahogany look, brush the skin with a mixture of water and honey each time you go to rotate the bird.
Smoky Spatchcocked Turkey
Grill a spatchcocked turkey for a smoky, robust bird that's ready in half the time. We remove the backbone and roast the turkey flat so that every part has access to the heat at the same time. The turkey won't have grill marks (it cooks flesh side up over indirect heat) but will absorb that chargrilled flavor. A smoky spice rub of paprika and ancho chile powder seems fitting for the grill, but you could use any spice combo or minced fresh herbs combined with a couple of tablespoons oil.
Maple-Cider Brined Turkey with Bourbon-Cider Gravy
If guests expect the ritual carving at the head of the table, opt for a classic whole presentation, like Maple-Cider Brined Turkey with Bourbon-Cider Gravy. This recipe provides rich seasonal maple and cider flavor, and perfect juiciness from the brine. Tip: Use your largest stockpot for brining the bird, or a brining bag.
Slow-Roasted Turkey with Cream Gravy
If you're cooking for real turkey aficionados, take the cheffy route to perfection: Cut the bird into parts and slow roast them, basting with a touch of cream, which gives you fantastically moist, rich meat, white and dark alike. If breaking down the turkey seems too advanced, have your butcher do it for you.
Braised Turkey Roulade with Pancetta, Shallots, and Porcini Gravy
This pretty entrée is a perfect dish for an elegant holiday dinner and certainly simpler to carve than a whole turkey. The combination of shallots and porcini soaking liquid creates a savory, earthy gravy.
Roasted Turkey with Rosemary-Garlic Butter Rub and Pan Gravy
For making a show of the carving: This classic whole-roasted turkey is rubbed with butter and bright-tasting herbs.
Smoke-Roasted Turkey Breast with Pomegranate-Thyme Glaze
Late November may not be prime time for grilling, but adding smoke and fire to the holiday bird is worth the momentary chill. Because this is a turkey breast (and not a whole bird), it cooks relatively quickly over an indirect fire, but it's still plenty big to feed a crowd.