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    The Bird: Classic and Modern Takes

    Thanksgiving can be a landmine of a meal. Creative cooks who tinker too aggressively with classic recipes may find themselves at the head of a table of disgruntled diners.

    It’s hard to blame them. Thanksgiving is rooted strongly in culinary traditions. Now you go and add a layer of complexity — every family has a special way of roasting this, mashing that, baking those or stuffing these. Tinker too much and you risk divorcing the meal of some of its meaning. Yet cooks love to try new flavors, new techniques, new ingredients. None of which is easy to balance.

    So to help you navigate, we’ve create dueling turkey recipes. Each is grounded in a classic roasting technique. But while one stays true to tradition, seasoning the big bird with sage, citrus, rosemary and thyme, the other reaches for ginger, sesame oil and chives to tease different, but delicious flavors.

    Which way will you go?

    ASIAN MODERN TURKEY AND GRAVY

    Start to finish: 2½ to 3 hours. Makes a 12- to 14-pound turkey with gravy.

    12- to 14-pound turkey

    For the compound butter:

    1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

    1 tablespoon salt

    1 teaspoon ground black pepper

    Zest of 2 lemons

    1/4 cup minced fresh chives

    3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

    2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

    For the filling:

    3 lemons, each cut into 8 wedges

    4 Thai chilies, halved

    2 cups shallots, halved

    2 medium yellow onions, cut into wedges

    For the gravy:

    1/2 cup sake

    2 cups low-sodium chicken or turkey broth

    4½ tablespoons rice flour

    1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

    3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

    Soy sauce, to taste

    Heat the oven to 350 F. Remove and discard the giblets and neck from the turkey cavity, if present. Use paper towels to pat dry the turkey.

    To prepare the compound butter, in a small bowl mix together the butter, salt, pepper lemon zest, chives, ginger and sesame oil. Rub the compound butter all over the turkey, making sure to get some under the skin.

    In a roasting pan large enough to fit the turkey, combine the lemons, chilies, shallots and onions. Mix well. Stuff some of the mixture into the cavity of the turkey, then arrange the rest in an even layer in the pan. Place the turkey on the mixture in the pan.

    Roast for 2 to 2½ hours. The temperature of the breast should reach 160 F and the thigh should reach 170 F. If the turkey begins to darken too much, cover with foil.

    Transfer the turkey to a serving platter, wrap with a layer of foil and then place several kitchen towels over it to keep it warm.

    Use a slotted spoon to remove and discard the chilies and vegetables from the roasting pan. Place the pan on the stovetop over medium heat and bring the juices to a simmer. Add the sake and scrape up any browned bits in the pan. Pour 1 cup of the broth into the pan, whisking continuously

    In a small bowl combine the rice flour with the remaining broth and whisk until smooth. Add to the pan and whisk continuously while simmering for 5 minutes. Strain the gravy, then season with sesame oil, cilantro and soy sauce. Serve alongside the turkey.

    Nutrition information per serving: 490 calories; 230 calories from fat (47 percent of total calories); 26 g fat (9 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 200 mg cholesterol; 3 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 56 g protein; 480 mg sodium.

    TRADITIONAL TURKEY AND GRAVY

    Start to finish: 2½ to 3 hours. Makes a 12- to 14- pound turkey with gravy.

    12- to 14-pound turkey

    For the compound butter:

    ½ cup unsalted butter, softened

    1 tablespoon salt

    1 teaspoon ground black pepper

    ¼ cup minced fresh sage

    For the filling:

    1 orange, cut into 8 wedges

    1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges

    3 sprigs fresh rosemary

    6 sprigs fresh thyme

    3 medium yellow onions, cut into wedges

    4 medium carrots, cut into large pieces

    4 stalks celery, cut into large pieces

    For the gravy:

    ¼ cup white wine

    2 cups low-sodium chicken or turkey broth

    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

    3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage

    Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

    Heat the oven to 350 F. Remove and discard the giblets and neck from the turkey cavity, if present. Use paper towels to pat dry the turkey.

    To prepare the compound butter, in a small bowl mix together the butter, salt, pepper and sage. Rub the compound butter all over the turkey, making sure to get some under the skin.

    In a roasting pan large enough to fit the turkey, combine the orange, lemon, rosemary, thyme, onions, carrots and celery. Mix well. Stuff some of the mixture into the cavity of the turkey, then arrange the rest in an even layer in the pan. Place the turkey on the mixture in the pan.

    Roast for 2 to 2½ hours. The temperature of the breast should reach 160 F and the thigh should reach 170 F. If the turkey begins to darken too much, cover with foil.

    Transfer the turkey to a serving platter, wrap with a layer of foil and then place several kitchen towels over it to keep it warm.

    Use a slotted spoon to remove and discard the herbs and vegetables from the roasting pan. Place the pan on the stovetop over medium heat and bring the juices to a simmer. Add the white wine and scrape up any browned bits in the pan. Pour 1 cup of the broth into the pan, whisking continuously

    In a small bowl combine the flour with the remaining broth and whisk until smooth. Add to the pan and whisk continuously while simmering for 5 minutes. Strain the gravy, then season with sage, salt and black pepper. Serve alongside the turkey.

    Nutrition information per serving: 460 calories; 220 calories from fat (48 percent of total calories); 24 g fat (9 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 200 mg cholesterol; 2 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 56 g protein; 480 mg sodium.



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