Thanksgiving, or Turkey Day as it is affectionately dubbed, is not complete with the glistening roast bird set as the centerpiece of the meal. In 2007 I had the pleasant experience of discovering that the tiny oven in my London flat would not accommodate the giant bird I bought to roast. After a bit of wrestling I managed to sort out a solution but I have since decided that roasting the bird in pieces is much easier and takes a portion of the time. This recipe works just as well with chicken and can either be cooked entirely in the oven or finished off on a grill to enhance the smokey & charred BBQ flavor of the sauce and the rub.

Soren Emil Carlsen, Thanksgiving Still Life, 1891
oil on canvas, 117 x 106 cm, San Diego Museum of Art

Soren Emil Carlsen was a Danish born artist who was heavily influenced by the work of Chardin. His paintings featured simple objects in muted tones. His limited palette produced moody canvases and he worked carefully to create seemingly haphazard compositions. He was a contemporary of William Merritt Chase and was part of the European educated talent working in America. Unlike Chase whose brushwork loosened to accommodate the Impressionist style, Carlsen’s work remained fairly tight and clean with thick layered brushstrokes.

{Spice-Rubbed Turkey}

This recipe could be substituted for chicken

2 TB brown sugar
2 tsp smoky paprika
1 large clove fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 small turkey, cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 200C. Mix the seasonings in a small bowl and rub all over the turkey pieces. Place the turkey in a roasting tray and slide into the oven for about 40 minutes. Occasionally spoon the juices from the meat back over the turkey.

Remove the turkey from the oven and brush on the BBQ sauce. Either return to the oven for another 20 minutes (check the thickest part of the breast for done-ness) or place on the grill (on an area of moderate heat – not directly over the cinders). Roast the turkey brushing on additional sauce as needed until done and the BBQ sauce begins to caramelize upon the meat.

Serve with additional BBQ sauce.

{Cranberry BBQ Sauce}

1 small red onion, chopped
1 TB olive oil
1 jar (250ml) cranberry sauce (alternative use 1 pkg frozen cranberries cooked for 10 minutes in 1/3 c sugar)
1/2 c ketchup
1/3 c hot sauce
1 TB apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
black pepper

Saute the chopped onion in the oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cranberry sauce, ketchup, hot sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce and a pinch of black pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until it reaches the desired thickness.

Once cooled slightly, puree with a hand blender. Pass through sieve and serve with the grilled turkey.

This is the fourth recipe in a four part series for a smoky & spicy Thanksgiving.