Last year we spatchcocked. This year, we’re keeping Thanksgiving dinner extra easy and delicious with a slightly sweet and spicy honey habanero glazed BROKEN DOWN bird.
This means it cooks in half the time, there’s no wrestling a massive turkey in and out of your oven, you can customize extra breast or leg meat to suit your gathering, and you're guaranteed the juiciest, most flavor-saturated bite ever!
Let the 2022 Thanksgiving Throwdown begin.
HONEY HABANERO TURKEY
Prep time: 25 minutes + overnight brining
Cook time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Honey Habanero Sauce + Glaze (makes 2 cups):
2 cups honey
2 habaneros, sliced
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt, for brining (optional)
1 recipe Stuffing Cornbread, preferably a day or two old
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 (12 to 14-pound) turkey, broken down into 8 pieces by the butcher
2 to 4 cups chicken or turkey stock
Kosher salt, to taste
•Dry Brining: Optional, but worth it if you have time! The day before cooking the turkey, place the pieces on a baking rack fitted inside a baking sheet. Sprinkle the turkey pieces liberally on all sides with Kosher salt. Place the baking racks inside the refrigerator uncovered overnight. Sounds odd but this process brines the turkey and draws out excess moisture, tenderizing the bird! It also naturally seasons the bird so you don’t need to re-season when it comes time to roast. Another note! When you receive the turkey from the butcher, save the backbone in the freezer—this is perfect to make the most delicious turkey stock at a later date.
•The second thing for turkey success to prepare the day before is the stuffing. Prepare the Stuffing Cornbread and once cooled, cut it into 1 1/2 -inch pieces. Lay the pieces out on a baking sheet overnight (you want the cornbread to dry out and become somewhat stale!). If you make the cornbread the day of Thanksgiving or you think the cornbread didn’t become stale enough overnight, have no fear. Simply toast the cornbread at 350ºF for anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes checking every 5 minutes or so until it feels drier and toasted. Set aside and allow to cool.
Honey Habanero Sauce:
•Begin by preparing the Honey Habanero Glaze. Place the honey and sliced habaneros in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once the honey comes to a boil, remove from the heat and cover the lid. Allow the habaneros to steep for about 20 minutes or so. Taste the honey, it should be really spicy!! But if you desire even more spice, repeat the process adding another pepper.
•Strain the sauce into a bowl, saving the habanero pieces for garnish later. Stir in the butter, mustard, and thyme leaves, and season with a pinch of salt. Divide the sauce in half and allow to cool. Half of the sauce will be to glaze the turkey and the other half of the sauce is spicy honey to serve at the dinner table (trust me, you’ll want more!).
•Lay the strained habanero pieces on a piece of paper towel to dry out and slightly candy while the turkey roasts.
Honey Habanero Glaze and Cornbread Stuffing:
•When ready to roast, pull the turkey out of the refrigerator 30 to 40 minutes before roasting to come to room temperature. This allows for more even cooking of the bird.
•Pat the turkey pieces very dry using paper towels and slather with the unsalted butter. Place the turkey pieces on top of the cornbread. Brush the turkey with some of the honey habanero glaze and keep this close by, you are going to be basting lots!
•Place the turkey in the oven and allow to cook for 30 minutes at 425ºF. After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 375ºF and baste the turkey again with the honey habanero glaze.
•Continue this process, basting the turkey every 15 to 20 minutes, adding stock to the stuffing, and switching the pans between racks to change the heat for a total of 45 minutes to 1 hour until the turkey registers 160ºF on a meat thermometer and the skin is deeply golden (try and baste another three times!).
•Remove the turkey from the oven and place on a cutting board to rest. Allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes before slicing.
•Slice the turkey, garnish with the candied habaneros, and serve with the stuffing cornbread.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Serves: 8 to 10
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (8 tablespoons of that melted and slightly cooled)
3 cups yellow cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 ¾ cup light buttermilk, shaken
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 small yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or sage, minced
•Preheat the oven to 375ºF. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, baking soda, salt and sugar and set aside. In a medium bowL, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk until just combined.
•Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk mixture into the center of the well. Stir gently until combined using a rubber spatula. Add the 8 tablespoons melted and lightly cooled butter and stir again until just combined. Set aside.
•Heat large 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons butter. Add the celery, onion and garlic and allow to cook until softened, but no color forms, 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly for 5 minutes, then stir into the cornbread batter.
•Return the skillet to the stove and continue heating over medium-high heat. When ready to bake, add another 2 tablespoons of butter and allow to melt, swirling around the pan to evenly coat and grease. Turn the heat off the stove, pour the batter into the pan and place in the oven.
•Bake for 25 to 27 minutes until lightly golden on top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.