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A smoky tea rub transforms the Thanksgiving bird
Milk Street Bowtie Tea-Rubbed Maple Turkey

Tea-Rubbed Maple Turkey

3 to 3½ hours Plus 24 hours to season

Free

This aromatic, richly seasoned holiday turkey gets much of its flavor from lapsang souchong, a smoked black Chinese tea. We added the flavor in two layers. First, we used loose tea to make a flavorful rub for the meat. We then mirrored that flavor by using brewed tea as part of a rich maple glaze. To brew the tea, steep eight tea bags in ¾ cup boiling water; let sit until cooled, then squeeze out all the liquid from the tea bags. You should have ½ cup brewed tea. If using a frozen turkey, make sure it is completely thawed. And if your turkey has a pop-up thermometer, remove and discard it before rubbing the bird with the tea rub.

6 bags lapsang souchong tea, emptied (9 grams)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 12- to 14-pound turkey, neck and giblets discarded
4 cups plus 3 tablespoons water, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup strong brewed lapsang souchong tea (see note above)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
For the turkey and gravy:
  • 6

    bags lapsang souchong tea, emptied (9 grams)

  • 1

    tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1

    teaspoon ground white pepper

  • 1

    12- to 14-pound turkey, neck and giblets discarded

  • 4

    cups plus 3 tablespoons water, divided

  • 2

    tablespoons cornstarch

For the glaze:
  • ½

    cup pure maple syrup

  • ½

    cup strong brewed lapsang souchong tea (see note above)

  • ¼

    cup soy sauce

  • 2

    tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

  • ½

    teaspoon ground white pepper

Directions
  1. 01
    To prepare the turkey, set a roasting rack inside a large roasting pan. Using paper towels, pat the turkey dry inside and out. Tuck the wings underneath. Gently push your hand under the skin over the breasts, thighs and drumsticks to loosen. In a small bowl, combine the tea, salt and white pepper. Using your hands, spread half the mixture evenly under the skin. Sprinkle the remaining mixture over the skin, rubbing to coat evenly. Set the turkey breast side up on the roasting rack and refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 hours.
    See Demo
  2. 02
    Heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the lowest position. Pour 4 cups of the water into the roasting pan. Pull the turkey legs up and forward and insert a long skewer through one thigh to the other thigh. Roast for 2 hours; the thickest part of the thigh should register 155°F to 160°F.
    See Demo
  3. 03
    While the turkey roasts, prepare the glaze. In a large saucepan over medium, combine the maple syrup, brewed tea and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook until large bubbles form, adjusting the heat to prevent boiling over, 8 to 10 minutes; you should have about ¾ cup glaze. Reserve ¼ cup; transfer the remaining ½ cup glaze to a small bowl, stir in the vinegar and white pepper and reserve to serve with the turkey.
    See Demo
  4. 04
    Remove the turkey from the oven and brush with half of the reserved ¼ cup of glaze. Return the turkey to the oven and roast until the thickest part of the breast registers 160°F and the thigh registers 175°F, brushing with the remaining glaze every 30 minutes, 1 to 1½ hours longer. Tilt the turkey to let the liquid run out of the cavity into the pan, then transfer to a carving board. Let rest for 45 minutes.
    See Demo
  5. 05
    To make the gravy, pour the liquid from the roasting pan into a fat separator and let settle for about 5 minutes. Pour 2 cups of defatted liquid into a large saucepan over medium-high and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 3 tablespoons water and cornstarch. Whisk the mixture into the simmering liquid and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy and the reserved glaze.
    See Demo
Tip: Don't cover the turkey before it goes into the refrigerator; leaving it uncovered helps dry the skin overnight, which produces crispier skin.
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Tea-Rubbed Maple Turkey

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12

Servings

3 to 3½ hours

Plus 24 hours to season

Tip

Don't cover the turkey before it goes into the refrigerator; leaving it uncovered helps dry the skin overnight, which produces crispier skin.

For the turkey and gravy:
  • 6

    bags lapsang souchong tea, emptied (9 grams)

  • 1

    tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1

    teaspoon ground white pepper

  • 1

    12- to 14-pound turkey, neck and giblets discarded

  • 4

    cups plus 3 tablespoons water, divided

  • 2

    tablespoons cornstarch

For the glaze:
  • ½

    cup pure maple syrup

  • ½

    cup strong brewed lapsang souchong tea (see note above)

  • ¼

    cup soy sauce

  • 2

    tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

  • ½

    teaspoon ground white pepper

Step 1 of 5

Prepare the turkey

6
bags lapsang souchong tea, emptied (9 grams)
1
tablespoon kosher salt
1
teaspoon ground white pepper
1
12- to 14-pound turkey, neck and giblets discarded

To prepare the turkey, set a roasting rack inside a large roasting pan. Using paper towels, pat the turkey dry inside and out. Tuck the wings underneath.


Gently push your hand under the skin over the breasts, thighs and drumsticks to loosen. In a small bowl, combine the tea, salt and white pepper. Using your hands, spread half the mixture evenly under the skin. Sprinkle the remaining mixture over the skin, rubbing to coat evenly.


Set the turkey breast side up on the roasting rack and refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 hours.

Step 2 of 5

Heat and rest

4
cups water

Heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the lowest position. Pour 4 cups of the water into the roasting pan. Pull the turkey legs up and forward and insert a long skewer through one thigh to the other thigh.


Roast for 2 hours; the thickest part of the thigh should register 155°F to 160°F.

Step 3 of 5

Prepare the glaze

½
cup pure maple syrup
½
cup strong brewed lapsang souchong tea
¼
cup soy sauce
2
tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
½
teaspoon ground white pepper

While the turkey roasts, prepare the glaze. In a large saucepan over medium, combine the maple syrup, brewed tea and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook until large bubbles form, adjusting the heat to prevent boiling over, 8 to 10 minutes; you should have about ¾ cup glaze.


Reserve ¼ cup; transfer the remaining ½ cup glaze to a small bowl, stir in the vinegar and white pepper and reserve to serve with the turkey.

Step 4 of 5

Continue to cook, then transfer

Remove the turkey from the oven and brush with half of the reserved ¼ cup of glaze. Return the turkey to the oven and roast until the thickest part of the breast registers 160°F and the thigh registers 175°F, brushing with the remaining glaze every 30 minutes, 1 to 1½ hours longer.


Tilt the turkey to let the liquid run out of the cavity into the pan, then transfer to a carving board. Let rest for 45 minutes.

Step 5 of 5

Make the gravy, carve, and serve

3
tablespoons water
2
tablespoons cornstarch

To make the gravy, pour the liquid from the roasting pan into a fat separator and let settle for about 5 minutes. Pour 2 cups of defatted liquid into a large saucepan over medium-high and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 3 tablespoons water and cornstarch.


Whisk the mixture into the simmering liquid and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy and the reserved glaze.

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