If you're overwhelmed by your Thanksgiving guest list, Four Seasons Beverly Hills executive chef Ashley James would like to give you a gentle smack. He'll be preparing dinner for 1,000 guests and 300 staff members at the hotel this year. That will include 1,600 pounds of turkey (that's about 90 gobblers).
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.