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How to Make a Bourbon-Glazed Turkey

If there’s one thing a modern man should know how to do, it’s make a turkey for holiday entertaining. You can prove your kitchen prowess by serving this bourbon-glazed turkey for Thanksgiving or any other holiday dinner — forever sealing your fate as master of the bird.

If you’re feeling plucky, you can spatchcock* your turkey before roasting. Yeah, we went there.

Bourbon-Glazed Turkey
Serves: 12-14

Ingredients

Dry Brining
12-14 pound turkey
1/2 cup iodized salt
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Bourbon Butter
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 tablespoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 pound salted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup Ezra Brooks Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Bourbon Glaze
1/2 cup Ezra Brooks Kentucky Straight Bourbon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Gravy Veggies
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 celery rib, sliced
2 cups chicken stock

3 Days Before Roasting
Note: If buying a frozen turkey, be sure to thaw under refrigeration or in a cooler three days before this step.

Remove the thawed turkey from its bag. Remove the giblet bag and save for gravy if using. Drain any excess juices into a sink and pat dry.

Mix the salt, baking powder, and sugar together. Evenly season both sides of the turkey with the salt mixture, using a little more than half. (You can save the rest any future poultry brining you might do.)

Place the turkey skin side up in a roasting pan lined with a rack. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Day of Roasting
Place oven rack in middle position. Preheat the oven to 450° F.

Combine granulated garlic and onion, sage, thyme, black pepper, and sugar in the bowl of a small food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the butter and bourbon and pulse to form a paste. Divide the butter mixture in half.

Starting at the bottom of the breast, separate the skin from the meat on the breasts and thighs. Using a small spoon, transfer one half of the butter mixture under the skin. Use your hands on top of the skin to help spread it all over the thighs and breasts.

For the bourbon glaze, melt the other half of the butter mixture in a small pan and add the Ezra Brooks bourbon, sugar, and salt. Brush half of this mixture over the skin.

Lift up the rack in the roasting pan and spread the sliced onions, carrots, and celery evenly in the bottom; pour in the stock. Replace the rack over the veggies and transfer the turkey onto the rack.

Transfer the roasting pan to the oven. Roast for 30 minutes, rotating once. Reduce the heat to 350° F, and cook for about two more hours, rotating the pan every 15 minutes to ensure even browning, and brushing with more of the bourbon glaze.

The turkey is ready when the thickest part of the breast reads 150° F; the thigh should read 165° F. For larger birds, total time will be 12 to 15 minutes per pound.

Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. Gently cover with aluminum foil.

Gluten-Free Gravy
Place roasting pan on stovetop. Add 2 cups of water and gently scrape caramelized bits from the bottom, sides, and corners. Transfer mixture to a pot large enough to hold and puree with a stick blender. Add a splash of bourbon and more water if necessary to adjust consistency.

* How to Spatchcock a Turkey
Spatchcocking is the process of butterflying a turkey (or chicken) by removing the backbone so it lays flat. This makes for more even cooking and a more tender bird; it also makes carving easier. If you’re buying a fresh turkey, you can ask your butcher to do it for you. If you’re buying a frozen turkey, you can do it after you thaw it.

To spatchcock, remove the thawed turkey from its bag. Remove the giblet bag and save for gravy if using. Drain any excess juices into a sink. Pat dry and place breast side down on a large cutting board.

Using kitchen shears, cut down each side of the backbone, starting at the bottom of the turkey. If the turkey becomes unruly (slippery to hold), use a clean dish towel to get a better hold. Remove any excessive fat near the neck end of the turkey.

Save the spine and any removed fat to roast with the turkey to help flavor the gravy. To make carving easier, remove the wishbone as well. Using the tip of a paring knife, cut along both sides then pull out. Turn the turkey over and spread the turkey apart. Press down firmly on the top of the breast to crack the breast bone and to ensure that the turkey is lying as flat as possible.

Preheat the oven to 450° F and prepare the turkey as directed following the recipe above.

Transfer the roasting pan to the oven, rotating it every 15 minutes to ensure even browning, and brushing with the bourbon glaze. After about 70 minutes, start checking the temperature with an insta-read thermometer. The thickest part of the breast should be 150°F, and the thigh should read 165° F. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. Gently cover with aluminum foil.