It’s November already! You know what that means? Thanksgiving recipes showing up everywhere. I thought I’d share a few of my family favorite Thanksgiving recipes in the next few weeks. So let’s start with the big guy, the turkey. My favorite way to cook our Thanksgiving turkey is brined and cooked on the rotisserie. This Ancho Chile Brined Turkey is outstanding and cooking it on the grill makes it the best turkey ever!
I use to roast my turkey in the oven like most people do. Then several years ago my husband and I decided to have a turkey cook-off. He wanted to cook the turkey on the grill (rotisserie) and I wanted to brine it. Since this was an expirement we made two turkeys and had everyone vote for their favorite. The result: everyone loved the grilled turkey flavor, but thought the brined turkey was much juicier. So guess what we did the following year? Yup, brined it first, then grilled it! Superb! And that’s how we’ve been cooking our Thanksgiving turkey ever since.
I’ve tried Alton Brown’s brine recipe which is fantastic. I’ve tried store bought brine mixes which can be good as well. But the last few years I’ve been making this ancho chile brine which we love. This brine consists of water, salt, brown sugar, garlic, cinnamon sticks, and ancho chiles. Don’t worry, the turkey doesn’t turn out spicy, it just has a really nice flavor. After the turkey has sat in the brine for about 12 hours, it’s rinsed, patted dry and sprinkled with a spice rub of ground ancho chiles and dried mexican oregano. The original recipe even suggests serving it with a mole gravy, which I tried one year but I didn’t care for much. However, I’m probably not the best judge of tasty gravy since I don’t like gravy and am not very good at making it. So save the drippings and make your turkey gravy however you prefer. And one other bit of advice…don’t overcook your turkey! We take ours off the BBQ when the internal temperature is about 155 and let it rest while it reaches 160-165 (guidelines say you should cook the turkey to an internal temperature of 165). Ours always seems to be perfect every time we take it off at 155 and let it rest.
I found this brine recipe on MyRecipes.com. It was originally published in Sunset, November 2010. Click here for the complete recipe and instructions on how to set up your grill for cooking the bird. We use our rotisserie which limits the size of the bird, but if you grill it directly on the grill you can cook a larger bird. Even if you don’t grill your turkey and decide to cook it the traditional way in the oven, I hope you’ll give brining a try. Now, maybe I need to try a fried turkey next…I hear those are out of this world, crazy good!
- 1 turkey
- 1⅓ cups kosher salt
- ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
- 6 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 6 dried ancho chiles, woody stem removed (keep some seeds if you like)
- 2 tablespoons ground ancho chiles
- 2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
- ¼ cup olive oil
- In a large pot, heat 1 qt. water with salt and sugar, stirring to dissolve. Remove from heat, add 5 qts. cold water, garlic, cinnamon, and chiles, and let cool to room temperature.
- Remove packets of giblets, etc. from turkey cavities. Discard or save for your favorite gravy recipe. Rinse turkey, then lower into brine*. Chill, covered, 12 hours.
- Remove turkey from brine, rinse, and pat dry. Discard brine.
- Combine ground chiles and oregano in small bowl. Rub turkey all over with oil, then sprinkle the seasoning inside and out of the turkey.
- Grill or roast turkey in your preferred method until internal temperature reaches 155. Remove from grill or oven, let rest covered, until temperature reaches 160-165. (People in the know recommend cooking to 165 for food safety, but we always eat ours at 160).
For complete instructions on how to set up your grill to cook the turkey, click here