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Ancho-Sage Turkey with Pan-Roasted Onions

Spice up your holiday bird with an easy homemade spice rub in this recipe from chef Tom Douglas.

Photography: David M. Russell




For the Turkey

  • 3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons cumin seed, toasted and ground
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (10-to-12-pound) turkey, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 orange
  • 4 sprigs fresh sage

For the Pan-Roasted Onions

  • 3 yellow onions, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 orange


  1. Step 1

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Step 2

    Make the turkey: In a small bowl, combine sugar, 4 1/2 teaspoons salt, chili powder, paprika, cumin, sage, and 2 1/2 teaspoons pepper in a small bowl. Set aside about one-quarter of the seasoning mixture for the pan-roasted onions.

  3. Step 3

    Trim turkey's tail fat and set aside. Trim and discard any remaining fat and remove and discard giblets. Place orange, onion, and sage sprigs in cavity of turkey; season cavity with salt and pepper. Generously pat remaining rub over turkey. Set aside.

  4. Step 4

    Make the pan-roasted onions: Place sliced onions in the center of a large roasting pan to make a bed for the turkey; season with reserved spice mixture. Mince reserved tail fat; add to roasting pan along with butter. Set turkey directly on top of onions.

  5. Step 5

    Transfer roasting pan to oven, legs first, and roast turkey until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 155 to 165 degrees, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove roasting pan from oven and transfer turkey to a carving platter; tent turkey with foil and let stand 10 minutes.

  6. Step 6

    Transfer onions to a serving dish; squeeze orange over onions and add any drippings that have collected under turkey on carving platter. Carve turkey and serve with onions.

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