After rubbing this turkey with a bold and delicious mix of chile powder, cumin, sugar and herbs, chef Tim Love blankets it with slices of salty, fatty pancetta, resulting in a supermoist and savory bird.
Barbara Lynch’s advice for a perfect bird: “I’m a true believer that you shouldn’t mess around too much with the turkey. I don’t brine it, I don’t fry it. If you buy a good turkey, you don’t need to add much to it.”
If you have a grill with a lid and a bag of hickory chips you can smoke a turkey. Braising the bird first in a mix of coffee, apple cider vinegar and cane syrup or brown sugar results in marvelously complex flavors—sweet, bitter and herbaceous.
Jose Garces prepares this turkey in the same style as a traditional Yucatán dish called cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted pork marinated in citrus and annatto paste (made from achiote seeds, the condiment adds an orange hue to foods). Brining and marinating the bird make it especially succulent.
The tangerine, brown sugar and sage glaze on this gorgeous turkey gives it a rich, burnished color when it comes out of the oven. Besides making the turkey look so impressive, the citrus-herb glaze adds an alluring holiday flavor.
Because so many people are hesitant to make a whole turkey, cookbook author Melissa Clark suggests roasting the turkey in parts, separating the dark meat from the white meat to guarantee a perfectly cooked bird.
"I wasn't always a briner," says Shawn McClain, "but when enough people tell you it's the thing to do, you try it." He's glad he did: The brine here, which is a simple combination of salt, sugar, spices and water, keeps the turkey moist in the oven and seasons the meat perfectly.
Josh Vogel's smoker allows him to start cooking the bird as low as 130?, and then finish smoking at 180?, but other smokers can be almost impossible to keep that cool. This adapted recipe calls for a constant temperature of about 200?. Since times will vary based on smoker temperature, the only reliable way to judge doneness is by cooking the turkey until its inner thigh registers 165?. Make sure to have plenty of hardwood charcoal or wood on hand.
Preparing a brine is an important part of learning how to cook turkey. Note that you'll need to brine this turkey for 10 to 12 hours before roasting it. Don't worry if a small portion of the turkey is not submerged in the brine.
Lots of people brine their turkeys. Not Michael Symon, who thinks brining makes the bird a little rubbery. In this turkey recipe, he salts his bird well and refrigerates it overnight to season it. Before roasting, he covers the breast and legs with cheesecloth that's been soaked in a cider-infused butter. For his beer-spiked gravy, Symon recommends the German-style Dortmunder Gold, made by Great Lakes Brewing Company, from his home state of Ohio.