Food & Drink

Seasoning rubs an easy way to flavor Thanksgiving turkey

The easiest way to add tons of flavor to your Thanksgiving turkey is to get under its skin. Literally.

Rubbing a blend of herbs and spices both over and under the skin of the bird just before roasting imparts tons of flavor.

BROWN SUGAR AND CIDER TURKEY RUB

Start to finish: 5 minutes

Makes enough for a 12- to 14-pound turkey

2 1/2 cups brown sugar

1/4 cup whiskey

1/2 cup apple cider

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Zest of 2 oranges

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree for about 1 minute. The mixture will be loose and a bit watery.

Carefully separate the turkey’s skin from the flesh, trying to avoid breaking the skin.

Use your hands to work the mixture under the skin, covering the flesh.

Replace the skin, then rub the mixture over the outside of the turkey’s skin. Roast according to your recipe.

Source: Recipe adapted from Brent Young, a butcher at The Meat Hook in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Note: This wet rub gives turkey a rich and sweet flavor that is a nice complement to the saltiness of a brine. When you combine the ingredients, the mixture will appear curdled and messy. It’s fine. Just rub it over and under the turkey’s skin.

LEMON-THYME RUB

Start to finish: 5 minutes

Makes enough for a 12- to 14-pound turkey

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

3/4 teaspoon table salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a small bowl, use a spoon or silicone spatula to mix together all of the ingredients. Carefully separate the turkey’s skin from the flesh, trying to avoid breaking the skin. Use your hands to work the mixture under the skin, covering the flesh. Replace the skin, then rub the mixture over the outside of the turkey’s skin.

Source: Recipe adapted from the November 2007 issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine.

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