Eat, Entertaining, Recipes

Thanksgiving Challenge: Apple-Poblano Turkey

I’ve always wanted to be one step ahead of where I’m standing. Some may say this means I like a good challenge. Typically, I’ll get my feet wet, then jump right in. For example, the photo above is of the very first turkey I fearfully made almost a year ago, last January. Come to find out, it’s the preparation that is most of the work, then the cooking just takes time-and it can be pretty simple, as it was when I made that 5-Step Turkey.

Before making that turkey, I confused time with effort and difficulty. After overcoming my turkey-making fear, I’m now ready to conquer a more sophisticated turkey for Thanksgiving this year- Cooking Light’s Apple Poblano Whole Roast Turkey. And my challenge to you is to make it too!

Doesn’t that sound delicious? Coming from El Paso, almost everything has a little kick. Since poblanos are known to be flavorful and characterized by mild heat, I predict the spice will not be overpowering and that the apple cider the turkey is brined in, as well as the apple slices and fresh poblanos infusing the bird will just produce an intriguing flavor!

You may have your traditional family turkey recipe that you make every year at Thanksgiving. But, if you’re still planning your menu and your crowd is open to trying new things, I encourage you to try this Southwestern/harvest-inspired recipe and report back on how it turns out! I actually heard recently of a family who always makes one traditional turkey and one new turkey recipe each year. If you make more than one turkey to feed your guests, this may be a great way to go!

This is an experiment for me too, and I am thankful for my family who is allowing me to test my elementary turkey-making skills and entrusting me to make the infamous bird for our Thanksgiving this year.  Am I afraid that our out of town guests may not be eating meat if something goes wrong? No! I’m up for the challenge and can’t wait to taste the hints of poblano heat and apple sweetness.

Have a spicy and sweet Thanksgiving! Ready, set, go….. (Recipe on next page)

Apple-Poblano Whole Roasted Turkey

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 6 ounces turkey and about 1/4 cup gravy)


  • Brine:
  • 8  cups  water
  • 8  cups  apple cider
  • 1/2  cup  packed brown sugar
  • 1/3  cup  kosher salt
  • 2  tablespoons  black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1  jalapeño pepper, quartered lengthwise
  • Turkey:
  • 1  (12-pound) organic fresh turkey
  • 1  tablespoon  brown sugar
  • 1  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 3/4  teaspoon  dried oregano
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground red pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground coriander
  • 3  Gala apples, quartered and divided
  • 2  poblano chiles, quartered, seeded, and divided
  • 1  cup  cilantro leaves
  • Cooking spray
  • 3  cups  water
  • 3  cups  fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 2  tablespoons  butter
  • 2  cups  chopped onion
  • 5  garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1.13  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1  cup  apple cider
  • 3  tablespoons  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lime juice


  1. To prepare brine, combine first 6 ingredients, stirring well.
  2. To prepare turkey, remove giblets and neck from turkey; reserve neck and giblets. Trim excess fat. Place a turkey-sized oven bag inside a second bag to form a double thickness. Place bags in a large stockpot. Place turkey inside inner bag. Add brine. Secure bags with several twist ties. Refrigerate 12 to 24 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 500°.
  4. Remove turkey from bags; discard brine. Pat turkey dry. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Combine 1 tablespoon sugar and next 6 ingredients (through coriander) in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture under loosened skin over flesh. Place 1 apple quarter and 1 poblano quarter in the neck cavity; close skin flap. Arrange 5 apple quarters, 1 poblano quarter, and 1 cup cilantro leaves in the body cavity. Secure legs with kitchen twine. Arrange turkey, neck, and giblets on the rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange remaining 6 apple quarters and 6 poblano quarters in bottom of roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Place rack with turkey in pan. Roast at 500° for 30 minutes.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 350° (do not remove turkey from oven). Place a foil tent over turkey breast. Pour 3 cups water in bottom of pan.
  6. Bake turkey at 350° for 40 minutes. Rotate turkey, and baste with 3/4 cup broth. Roast for 30 minutes; rotate turkey. Baste with 3/4 cup broth. Roast 20 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°. Remove from oven. Place turkey, breast side down, on a jelly-roll pan or cutting board. Let stand, covered, for 30 minutes. Serve breast side up. Chop giblets. Discard neck.
  7. Strain pan drippings through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent. Stir in reserved chopped giblets and garlic; sauté 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Sprinkle flour over onion mixture; saute 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add drippings, remaining 1 1/2 cups broth, and 1 cup apple cider; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 3 cups (about 15 minutes). Strain through a sieve over a bowl, and discard solids. Stir in chopped cilantro and lime juice. Discard turkey skin; carve. Serve with gravy.

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5 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Challenge: Apple-Poblano Turkey”

  • Halley November 19, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Don’t forget you’ll need a trusty friend or foe to slice that bird and get all of the good meat in the unknown areas down under!

    I’m wondering if my tiny old fashioned oven will hold an entire turkey. If so…I may try this endeavor!

  • TheRebecca November 19, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I will miss my turkey carver from last year! I bet you could make a small turkey! Let me know if you try it out! Happy Thanksgiving in SF!

  • Tim November 19, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    “I confused time with difficulty” is one of the most brilliant pieces of writing about cooking I’ve seen in a while. So very, very true.

  • TheRebecca November 21, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Tim, thank you so much for reading! I do think too often, when cooking, we get intimidated by the amount of time required. However, it’s usually worth the time and effort, and sometimes the time can be cut down with careful planning and pre-preparation.

    I’d love to see some of your productions sometime. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Tales of the Turkey November 29, 2010 at 8:23 am

    […] how was the Apple-Poblano Turkey? It was roasted, flavorful, and 12.58 pounds! I was surprised that I didn’t taste much of the […]

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