It all started with the chorizo cornbread. I had it in my head to use chorizo in cornbread for months. So when McCormick Spices asked me to tell them about my Thanksgiving, that chipotle chile flavor was already haunting my kitchen dreams. I wanted to offer up something different. Something appropriate for a small gathering. A different twist because I’m always so darn traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving.
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Since we’re traveling for the holiday, and I was wistful for turkey, I was thrilled for the excuse to cook, but the fifteen pound birds of past years would be way too much for two of us to eat. I imagine some of you are planning a small holiday gathering -in which case, the turkey breast might be the perfect size. It’s a more manageable amount of food, certainly, and easier to keep the white meat nice and juicy because you’re not waiting for the dark meat to get cooked!
I wanted the bone-in, so there would be stock, and gravy. What’s Thanksgiving without gravy? There was only one bone-in turkey breast available. It was huge. Eight pounds.
It seemed this was also a perfect opportunity to use all those mad Charcutepalooza skillz! Because I’ve become enamoured of smoking small chickens in the Bradley smoker, I immediately thought to do the same with the turkey breast. And I decided to dodge all the sage, rosemary and thyme. All that parsley. The traditional. I threw it over for chiles and spices.
After brining overnight (1 gallon water + 1 cup salt + 1 cup brown sugar + one head of garlic + two lemons, halved and squeezed,) it was time to rub a spicy mix on the bird.
I stirred up the standard spice mix, I have been using for almost all smoking, then veered happily toward the chipotle tinged, cumin and coriander scents.
The Bradley smoker worked wonderfully. The temperature held at 235° and the mammoth turkey breast emerged juicy, lightly hickory-smoked, and beautiful after just two hours. About 15 minutes per pound, at 165°.
So there it was. Thanksgiving a little early was very satisfying indeed. We enjoyed smoked turkey breast, wine tinged gravy made from the smoked turkey stock, chipotle chorizo corn pones, pan roasted Brussell sprouts, and raspberry cranberry conserve. And cherry pie for dessert.
Happy, happy Thanksgiving. I have so much for which to be thankful, and especially the grace, warmth, and friendship of all of you.
Spice Rubbed Smoked Turkey, Veering toward Mexico
Makes enough for one turkey
1 turkey or turkey breast
1 Tbls cumin seed
1 Tbls coriander seed
1 Tbls black peppercorns
1 Tbls salt
3 T paprika
2 T Chipotle chili powder
1 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground mustard
Brine your turkey overnight. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
Dry toast the cumin, coriander seed, and peppercorn until they are fragrant.
Grind in a spice grinder until coarsely ground. Stir together with the remaining spices.
Rub all over the bird, under the skin and in all the crevices.
Smoke at 235° for about 15 minutes per pound, or to 165° internal temperature.
To roast in the oven:
Mix the spice mixture with one stick (4 oz) of softened butter. Rub this buttery mixture all over the bird. Roast in the oven, starting at 425° for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325°. Baste with a brush every 15 minutes, roasting for 15 minutes per pound until the internal temperature is 165°. If the breast browns too quickly, tent loosely with foil.