Noodling around with spices, James came up with a turkey recipe a few years ago as an experiment that was such a hit it's been his go-to plan ever since. His turkey, bathed in a cinnamon-maple brine with lemon and orange slices and chipotle chiles, "combines classical Thanksgiving flavors with a delicate kick from the chili and sweet notes from the citrus and maple," he says. This is a simple recipe, but remember that you need to get it going three to four days ahead of time.Spiced Maple Turkey
From: Executive chef Ashley James, Four Seasons Beverly Hills
Serves: about 20
1 large turkey (20-22 lbs.)
2 gallons water
1.5 cups kosher salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 sliced oranges
2 sliced lemons
1/2 cup pickling spice
1 tablespoon finely chopped chipotle chile
4 cinnamon sticks
6 pieces of star anise
1. Place water in a large pot and boil. Once boiling, add all of the other ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes. Leave to cool overnight.
2. The next day, add the turkey to the brine, place in refriegerator and brine turkey for a minimum of 24 hours and up to 72 hours.
3. Remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a roasting pan, smother with olive oil and roast in a 325-degree preheated oven for 5 1/2 hours, basting every 30 minutes with the juices and fat.
6. Very important: Let the turkey rest at least 30 minutes before serving.
The Four Seasons will be serving a massive Thanksgiving buffet from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
($98, adults; $49 for children 12 and under) that will include James's turkey, of course, but also apple-and-clove-glazed baked ham; roasted prime rib; sea bass with roasted butternut squash coulis; five-spice red-wine braised angus beef short ribs; oysters, shrimp, Alaskan crab legs, seared ahi tuna; an array of sushi and dim sum; cheeses, omelets, eggs Benedict, Belgian waffles; plus a charcuterie and housemade flatbread station and a farmers market station. A Pie Factory station will include pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple pie and chocolate banana cream. And, of course, there will be a doughnut machine.
That should probably be enough.