Classic and modern takes on the Thanksgiving bird

Story and recipes: By ALISON LADMAN, The Associated Press

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.
Which way will you go?
TRADITIONAL TURKEY AND GRAVY
Start to finish: 2½ to 3 hours
12- to 14-pound turkey
For the compound butter:
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. 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 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Heat oven to 350 F. Remove and discard giblets and neck from the turkey cavity, if present. Use paper towels to pat dry the turkey.
To prepare compound butter, in a small bowl mix together butter, salt, pepper and sage. Rub 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 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 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 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 pan on the stovetop over medium heat and bring juices to a simmer. Add 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 flour with the remaining broth and whisk until smooth. Add to the pan and whisk continuously while simmering for 5 minutes. Strain 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.
ASIAN MODERN TURKEY AND GRAVY
Start to finish: 2½ to 3 hours
12- to 14-pound turkey
For the compound butter:
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
Zest of 2 lemons
¼ cup minced fresh chives
3 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. 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:
½ cup sake
2 cups low-sodium chicken or turkey broth
4½ Tbsp. rice flour
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
Soy sauce, to taste
Heat oven to 350 F. Remove and discard giblets and neck from the turkey cavity, if present. Use paper towels to pat dry the turkey.
To prepare compound butter, in a small bowl mix together 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 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 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 chilies and vegetables from the roasting pan. Place pan on the stovetop over medium heat and bring the juices to a simmer. Add 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 rice flour with the remaining broth and whisk until smooth. Add to the pan and whisk continuously while simmering for 5 minutes. Strain 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.
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Homemade cranberry sauce is wildly better than anything you can buy and it takes little time or effort to make. Plus, it’s easy to take a basic cranberry sauce and doctor it up in so many delicious ways.
CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH VARIATIONS
Start to finish: 15 minutes
12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup orange juice
Pinch of salt
In a medium saucepan over medium-high, combine cranberries, brown sugar, orange juice and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the cranberries have popped and softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove saucepan from the heat and select one of the flavor combinations below:
Servings: 8
—Chipotle
Add 1 minced chipotle pepper and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo). Allow to cool, then stir in 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro.
—Truffled
Allow to fully cool, then stir in 1/2 teaspoon truffle oil and 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives.
—Sweet-and-Smoky
Stir in ½ cup crumbled well-cooked bacon, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika and an extra ½ cup brown sugar.
—Lemon-Tarragon
Stir in 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon and the zest and juice of 1 lemon.
—Ginger-Miso
Stir in 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger and 2 tablespoons sweet white miso.

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