Food Pairings Wine

5 Turkey Recipes & Wine Recs

Thanksgiving, that uniquely American holiday, is now upon us. This author loves the fact that it’s a national holiday that brings loved ones together from near and far to eat a ton of food, drink a lot of wine, and be grateful for all of our plentitude. One of the most heart-warming parts of the holiday is watching friends and family pitch in, cook, and putter about contributing to the beautiful mayhem that is the preparation of the meal.

The food at Thanksgiving is classic Americana: the greens, the root veggies, the pie combinations. The variations on cooking sweet potatoes could fill several bookshelves alone. But, as we all know, the real superstar of this grand feast is fowl territory: the turkey.

This delicious game bird is the traditional centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal. It can taste impeccable with a rub of olive oil, salt, pepper, and a good brine. But if you’re looking to change up the taste of your buterball this year, we’ve compiled a list of 5 turkey recipes from the Chicago Tribune that will turn a few heads and water a few mouths. With a few new spices and techniques your bird could show a little Cuban flair or taste and smell faintly of rosemary.

Photo: Chicago Tribune

But no Thanksgiving is complete without wine, which we find is always the toughest part of all the meal’s elements. So to bring completion to your feast, our sommelier has put together a list of 5 wines that will pair perfectly with these 5 turkey recipes. Each wine was chosen to enhance your turkey’s flavors, rather than overwhelm them. And the wines reasonably priced, to boot.

We send a hearty cheers to your and your this holiday!

Photo: Chicago Tribune
Adapted from “The New Way to Cook Light” (Oxmoor House, $34.95). The original recipe uses a turkey breast and cooks it on a barbecue grill. We’ve used a whole bird, incorporated some preparation techniques and oven-roasted the turkey.

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: 3 to 3 3/4 hours

Makes: 10 to 12 servings, with leftovers

Wine Pairing: Calera, Central Coast Pinot Noir, 2014, $29.99


  • 12 to 14 pound turkey, thawed, giblets, neck removed
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 1 small bunch thyme sprigs, plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar


Heat oven to 325 degrees. Season turkey cavity with 3 teaspoons salt and the pepper; fill with thyme sprigs and onion. Loosen skin from breast by pushing fingers gently between skin and meat. Combine 4 teaspoons chopped thyme and the garlic, mixing well. Rub mixture under loosened skin. Turn wing tips under; truss legs with kitchen string. Place turkey on rack in roasting pan. Roast turkey, about 2 1/2 hours; loosely cover with foil if skin browns too quickly.

Meanwhile, prepare glaze. Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add remaining 2 teaspoons chopped thyme, shallots and remaining 1 teaspoon salt; saute 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add juice and sugar; heat to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until syrupy and reduced to about 1 cup, 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Set half of the glaze aside to serve with roasted bird.

Use remaining glaze to lightly baste turkey several times during the last half hour of roasting. Continue roasting turkey until an oven-safe or instant-read thermometer inserted deep in the thigh reads 165 degrees, another 30-45 minutes. Remove turkey from oven; let rest 15-20 minutes before carving. Serve with reserved glaze.

Traditional Turkey

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Makes: 8 to 12 servings

Wine Pairing: Anne-Sophie Dubois, Fleurie “L’Alchimiste”, 2015, $28.99


  • 1 small turkey (8 to 12 pounds), not kosher or pre-brined
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Fresh herbs including rosemary sprigs, thyme sprigs, sage leaves
  • Oranges, quartered


Remove giblets and neck. Using a sharp knife, remove wing tips and wishbone. Set all aside to use for stock and gravy, if you like

Using your fingers, loosen skin from the meat around the breasts and legs, being careful not to rip the skin. Season the turkey all over with the salt, including some underneath the skin. Transfer to a large V-rack set over a rimmed baking sheet; place in the fridge overnight.

The next day, heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove turkey from the fridge; drizzle with the canola oil. Place sheet pan in the oven; pour 2 cups of liquid (water, broth, etc.) into the pan. Cook, rotating it around the oven so that it roasts evenly, until the thigh registers 165 degrees on a meat thermometer, 1 1/2 hours or more, depending on size of the bird. Remove, set aside to rest before slicing. Serve, garnished with fresh herbs and oranges.

Cuban-Style Turkey

Adapted from recipes in Maricel E. Presilla’s cookbook, “Gran Cocina Latina” (W.W. Norton & Co., $45).

Prep: 30 minutes

Rest: Overnight

Cook: 3-4 hours

Makes: 15 servings

Wine Pairing:  La Rioja Alta, Reserva Especial “Vina Ardanza”, 2008, $34.99


  • 1 large head garlic, separated into cloves, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon each: ground black pepper, ground cumin, ground allspice, dried oregano, salt
  • 1 cup fresh bitter orange juice or equal parts orange and lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 12 to 15 pound turkey
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 6 half-ripe plantains, unpeeled, each cut in 3 pieces
  • 6 sweet potatoes, quartered


Puree garlic, pepper, cumin, allspice, oregano, salt and juices in a blender. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Puree. Set aside 1/4 cup adobo mixture for basting; mix it with remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

Rub remaining seasoning mixture all over the turkey. Use your fingers to gently loosen skin around the breast and thighs, inserting some seasoning mixture under the skin. Place turkey in glass or plastic container; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer turkey to a deep roasting pan. Add broth to pan. Cover with aluminum foil; roast 2 1/2 hours. Remove foil; arrange plantains and sweet potatoes around the turkey. Replace the foil; roast, 30 minutes. Remove foil; continue roasting, basting frequently with the reserved adobo mixture and pan juices, 1 hour. Add water to the pan if needed. The turkeys is ready when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees. Use remaining pan juices to make gravy.

Rosemary-scented Turkey

This recipe was developed in the Tribune test kitchen.

Prep: 25 minutes

Chill: Overnight

Cook: 3 hours, 20 minutes

Makes: 12 servings

Wine Pairing: Domaine le Couroulu, Vacqueyras “Vieilles Vignes”, 2013, $25.99


  • 1 turkey, 12-14 pounds, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) plus 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 4 lemons, 2 thinly sliced, 2 quartered
  • 2 small bunches fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, with leaves, chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup half-and half, optional


The day before cooking, sprinkle turkey cavity with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and pepper to taste; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

Remove turkey from refrigerator; let stand 1 hour. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Carefully insert your hand under the skin of the turkey breast, thighs and legs to loosen skin away from meat without tearing skin. Spread 1/2 stick of the butter under the skin with hands; slip in lemon slices and 5-6 sprigs of the rosemary. Rub outside of turkey with olive oil; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and pepper to taste.

Place half of the onion, half of the celery, parsley, lemon wedges and remaining rosemary in the bird cavity. Scatter remaining onion and celery in bottom of a large roasting pan; place turkey on top. Roast until it begins to brown, about 45 minutes. Lower heat to 325 degrees.

Remove roasting pan from the oven; carefully tip pan so cavity juices run into pan. Move oven rack to bottom rung. Add 1 cup water and 1/2 cup of the wine to pan. Roast 2 1/2 hours, basting with pan juices every 30 minutes. Turkey is done when thermometer registers 165 degrees inserted near thickest part of inner thigh, being careful not to touch bone. Remove turkey from roasting pan; let stand at least 30 minutes before carving.

Remove vegetables from roasting pan; reserve. Place roasting pan on stove over medium-high heat; add remaining 1 cup of the wine. Cook, stirring up browned bits, over medium-high heat, 1 minute. Pour pan juices into large glass measuring cup or fat separator; spoon off fat. Add enough broth to juices to measure 4 cups.

Melt remaining 3 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Mash reserved vegetables to make about 1/2 cup of puree; whisk into the butter. Add flour; whisk until golden, about 4 minutes. Add pan juices; heat to a boil, whisking until smooth. Reduce heat; simmer until gravy is reduced to desired consistency, about 4 minutes. Whisk in half-and-half, if desired. Season to taste. Carve turkey; serve with gravy.

Braised Turkey with Moroccan Spices

Prep: 45 minutes

Cook: 2 hours

Makes: 12 to 14 servings

Wine Pairing: Chateau Pradeaux, Bandol Rose, 2016, $29.99


  • 1 turkey, 13 to 15 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons za’atar seasoning blend
  • 1 tablespoon each: ground cinnamon, turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons each: ground cumin, garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne, optional
  • 2 or 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large bulb fresh fennel, stalks and fronds removed, bulb diced
  • 1 small leek, split, rinsed, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons salt


Remove the giblets and neck packets from the cavity of the turkey. Rinse turkey well and pat dry. Cut the turkey in portions like you would a chicken: First remove the legs and cut them apart into drumsticks and thighs. Then cut off the wings. Use kitchen shears to cut out the back bone. Use a large knife or kitchen shears to carefully split the turkey breast down the middle into two halves.

2 Put the giblets (not the liver), neck, wings and backbone into a large pot. Add cold water to cover by 2 inches, usually 3 quarts. Simmer, adding water if needed, 2 to 3 hours. Strain into a bowl, discarding the solids. Refrigerate broth for up to 3 days. You should have about 6 cups.

Mix all the spices together in a small bowl. Rub the mixture on all sides of the turkey breast halves, thighs and drumsticks set on a baking sheet in a single layer. Rubbed turkey can be refrigerated, loosely covered, up to several days.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix carrots, onion, fennel, leek, and garlic in the bottom of a large metal baking pan. Nestle the turkey parts into the vegetables in a single uncrowded layer. Sprinkle everything with salt.

5 Put the pan in the oven. Carefully pour 3 to 4 cups of the turkey broth into the pan, taking care not to pour it over the rubbed turkey; you don’t want to wash off the rub. The broth should come halfway up the sides of the meat. Cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees when inserted in the breast and the juices run clear, about 1 hour. Use tongs to remove breasts to a cutting board. Continue cooking the thighs and legs, 15-20 minutes.

Arrange all the turkey pieces on a platter or cutting board. Let turkey rest about 10 minutes before slicing. Skim off and discard any fat from the pan juices. The juices can be thickened to make a gravy, using a cornstarch slurry (a tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in a little cold water). Serve the vegetables with the sliced turkey.

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