Thanksgiving and turkey are inseparable. There are lots of alternatives out there for the modern chef, but we wanted to make sure that we provided a recipe for those who believe in tradition. This bird was almost our nation’s mascot; it’s important that you treat him with respect. A whiskey glaze is the perfect way to spruce up that turkey while still obeying your family’s demands for a Thanksgiving bird. Prepping this centerpiece is a bit of a journey, so make sure you’re familiar with the whole recipe before getting started.
Whiskey Glazed Roasted Turkey
For the turkey:
1 (6.5 pound) turkey breast, bone in
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 lemon, cut in half on a diagonal
10-12 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
ground white pepper
2 wooden teriyaki sticks (or a handful of toothpicks)
Compound butter (yields enough to have a lot extra. cut in 1/2 if using just for turkey):
1 lb. butter, softened
2 tablespoons Scotch
1 tablespoon grade B maple syrup
1 tablespoon 5-spice powder
1/4 teaspoons star anise
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
In the roasting pan:
1 lemon, quartered
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 cinnamon stick
6-8 whole star anise
1/2 cup Johnny Walker Black
generous dash Tabasco
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2-3 cups water
Mix up the compound butter. (Add all the ingredients to 1 pound of softened butter. Mix well with a fork until uniform.) Set aside on the counter.
Set a v-shaped roasting rack in a large roasting pan. Preheat your oven to 345 degrees.
Grab your bird. Rinse him really well under cold water, and then rub him with paper towels until he’s completely dry. Set him aside for a minute.
Peel and smash the garlic cloves with the flat of your knife.
Whack a lemon in half on the diagonal (more surface area). Stud each half of the lemon with 5 or 6 whole cloves.
Stick half a cinnamon stick into each piece of lemon. (Toss your sense of aesthetics to the wind. This is purely to keep the cinnamon sticks from falling out, since the cavity on a breast is much more open than it is on a whole bird.)
Drizzle a little olive oil on the inside of your bird.
Rub it around and sprinkle with a little kosher salt, ground white pepper, onion powder, ground chipotle, 5-spice powder, and smoked paprika. Rub that around to coat the inside.
Toss the smashed garlic into the cavity next. Then squeeze each lemon in, and insert it into the cavity.
Grab the flaps on either side of the cavity and pin them closed with two wooden skewers. (If you don’t have skewers, get creative with toothpicks. They’ll work just fine.)
You don’t want to seal it completely. You just want to hold it closed enough so that the lemons, etc., don’t fall out.
Gently loosen the skin from the bird. Pull up at the edge, then work your fingers under, separating the thin layer that holds the skin to the meat.
You want to loosen as much of the skin as you can on the breast, without making any holes. Basically, you’re creating a little pouch to hold the compound butter.
Once you’ve loosened the skin, grab a blob of your compound butter (be careful not to contaminate the whole bowl with your raw turkey paws).
Lift up the skin and push the butter in underneath.
Keep going until you have a good layer of butter under the skin on both sides. As long as you’re not making holes in the skin, there’s really no wrong way to do this. Basically, just get as much butter as you can under the skin.
Next, rub some of the butter on the outside of the skin.
And sprinkle with a little kosher salt, ground white pepper, onion powder, ground chipotle, 5-spice powder, and smoked paprika.
Set the bird on your roasting rack, breast side up.
Whack another lemon in quarters. Smash up 5 or 6 more cloves of garlic. Grab a small handful of star anise, and a cinnamon stick. Measure out the soy sauce and whiskey.
Add enough water so that you have about a quarter-inch of liquid in the bottom of your pan. (How much you add will vary based on the size of your pan.)
Pop that sucker into your preheated 345-degree oven.
Roast for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until crispy, browned, and 160 degrees internal temp.
Baste the bird every half an hour with the liquid in the pan. Keep an eye on the turkey’s skin. If it starts to brown too much before it’s done, just slip a sheet of aluminum foil over him loosely.
He’s done when he registers 155-160 degrees on a meat thermometer (stick it in the fattest part of the breast, and be sure not to hit a bone or you’ll get a false reading).
Post by Ian Sims. Art by Angeli Rafer. Recipe from thehungrymouse.com.