FRESH IDEAS FOR YOUR FEAST
Thanksgiving picks up some fire and spice Roast turkey kissed with maple and smoke
Tired of turkey? We have recipes for a different, delicious dinner.
What is a traditional Thanksgiving dinner now, nearly 400 years after what historians call The First Thanksgiving? We think turkey and sides, except the wild turkeys then were nothing like the Butterballs now, or even what our grandfathers may have brought home from their factory jobs for our grandmothers to cook.
That’s what my maternal grandfather, the great Frank Hugh, did. But my grandmother Yok Ping let my Uncle Eric roast the bird. He was American as all get-out and was even once crazily courted to be a young Chinese Elvis before he joined the U.S. Army. But his Thanksgiving turkeys were rubbed with black bean and garlic sauce, then chopped up like Chinatown ducks. Delicious though differently traditional.
This year, after quite frankly what’s been one of the most divisive years in our lifetimes, we wanted a traditional Thanksgiving, with a nod to indigenous and immigrant flavors.
For the turkey, I turned to our history. Poring over archives, I was drawn to one of columnist JeanMarie Brownson’s recipes but swapped maple syrup for brown sugar, then added a finish of smoked salt, for a kiss of sweetness and fire.
For the side dishes, consider bringing other flavors to the table. Perhaps Brussels sprouts tossed with Indian spices (cumin, cinnamon and coriander), or roasted root vegetables flavored with soy and ginger. Whatever you decide, give thanks for not only the harvest, as our ancestors did, but the hope to imagine a happy Thanksgiving 400 years in the future where our best traditions endure. Prep: 45 minutes Brine: 4 hours or overnight Cook: 3 hours Makes: 12 to 14 servings turkey, 13 to 15 pounds cup maple syrup cup coarse (kosher) salt cup bourbon (optional) tablespoon crushed red pepper large sweet onion, roughly chopped bunch parsley Peanut oil Salt and black pepper Pan sauce: tablespoons bourbon (optional) Smoked salt Cider vinegar Remove any neck and giblets packages from turkey cavity. For brine, add 2 cups hot water, maple syrup and salt to a food-safe container large enough to hold the turkey. Stir until syrup and salt dissolve. Add 2 cups cold water, ½ cup bourbon and red pepper. Carefully place turkey in brine. Add enough cool water to cover turkey completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove turkey from brine. Discard brine. Refrigerate turkey up to 2 days. For broth, put giblets and neck into a deep saucepan. Add about 3 cups cold water. Simmer, about 2 hours. Strain into a bowl. Remove solids for snacking. Refrigerate broth for up to 3 days. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place turkey in large roasting pan, breast side up. Add some onion to turkey neck cavity, close loose skin over and tuck wings under back. Add remaining onion and parsley to body cavity; close loose skin over. Rub oil all over, then season well with pepper and salt. Carefully pour 2 cups of broth into pan. Roast, 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue roasting turkey, turning pan as needed for even browning. After about 2 hours, insert thermometer into thickest part of thigh but not touching bone. When turkey temperature reads 160 degrees, increase oven temperature to 450 degrees; roast until skin browns, about 10 minutes. Carefully remove turkey to a cutting board; tent loosely with foil. Let stand about 15 minutes; temperature will rise about 10 more degrees, getting it above the recommended safe temperature of 165 degrees. Meanwhile set roasting pan with pan juices directly on burners. Heat to a boil while scraping up browned bits at bottom of pan. Remove onion and parsley from turkey. Carefully blend into pan sauce with immersion blender, or chop well then add. Add remaining broth only as needed. Reduce until thickened as desired. Off heat, add bourbon; season with salt, pepper and vinegar to taste. Serve turkey with pan sauce, finished with freshly ground black pepper and smoked salt to taste.
507 calories, 17 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 276 mg cholesterol, 9 g carbohydrates, 74 g protein, 579 mg sodium, 1 g fiber
Roast turkey adds a bit of sweetness and fire (from maple and smoked salt), while the sides take on complementary spice notes.