Turkey Time: Sweet and Spicy

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. If you're still looking for that special something to make your turkey sing, might I recommend a wet rub that blends maple syrup with pureed chipotle peppers? It gives your bird a bit of heat, a lot of smokiness, and a head start on caramelized crisp skin and the aroma that Thanksgiving is known for. Plus, it's very easy to put together and helps season your bird without leaving it dry at the table.

I've used this rub with everything from a turkey breast — which I often roast a few weeks before Thanksgiving to test my oven, seasonings, and method — to a giant bird that tests your oven's capacity! Simply scale up all the ingredients - especially the syrup and peppers - as the size of your bird increases and remember that it's better to have too much rub applied than not enough.

If you're looking for more Thanksgiving recipes, stay tuned for more this week and take a look at our Thanksgiving Cliffs Notes for ideas that will take you from appetizers to dessert. Enjoy!

Maple-Chipotle Turkey

  • 1 turkey (turkey breast can be used for a smaller crowd or white meat only fans)
  • 2-3 T. pureed chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 2-3 T. pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1-2 onions, sliced in half

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Prepare the turkey for roasting by removing any giblets, gravy packets, or other items from inside the bird. Set the turkey on a v-rack inside a large roasting pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the pureed chipotles, maple syrup, granulated garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Use more of the chipotles and syrup as needed for the size of your bird. Using your hands, rub the mixture inside the cavity, under the skin, and over the skin of the turkey. Turn the turkey in the rack so that it is breast side down. Place enough onion halves inside the cavity of the bird to more or less fill it. Use toothpicks as needed to keep them from falling out. Pour 1 cup of water (or wine, apple cider, etc.) into the bottom of the roasting pan.

Roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 300° F and roast until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the turkey registers 170° F, anywhere from 2-4 hours, depending on the size of your turkey. Remove the turkey from the oven and tent with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.

  • Yields: 4-12 servings, depending on the size of your turkey
  • Preparation Time: 3-5 hours, depending on the size of your turkey

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