For this combination of sweet and heat, we reached for a bunch of spice cabinet and baking shelf staples.
We start with a base of brown sugar (light or dark, it doesn’t matter). We then tame that sweet jolt with smoked paprika, chili powder, onion powder, cayenne, garlic powder, salt, pepper and thyme. That mixture gets rubs all over the turkey, inside and out, over and under the skin.
The result is as described — a sweet and spicy flavor that permeates the meat and pairs so well with the rest of the meal.
Start to finish: 2 1/2 to 3 hours
Makes a 12- to 14-pound turkey with gravy
2 large yellow onions, quartered
2 large carrots, cut into pieces
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
12- to 14-pound turkey
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Heat the oven to 350 F. Arrange a rack in a large roasting pan. Scatter the onion and carrot chunks beneath the rack.
Using a food processor, a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind together the brown sugar, smoked paprika, chili powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 2 teaspoons salt, and the dried thyme.
Rub the olive or vegetable oil all over the surface of the turkey, then rub the sugar-spice mixture all over the turkey. Be sure to rub some under the skin as well as inside the cavity.
Arrange the turkey on the rack in the roasting pan. Roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the breast reaches 160 F and the thickest part of the thigh reaches 170 F. If the turkey begins to darken too much, cover it with foil.
Transfer the turkey to a serving platter, wrap with a layer of foil, then a couple layers of kitchen towels to keep warm.
Remove the rack from the roasting pan. Discard the onions and carrots. Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium heat and bring the juices to a simmer. Add the white wine and scrape up any browned bits in the pan.
In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken broth and the flour. Pour into the pan, whisking continuously. Simmer for 5 minutes, while continuing to stir. Strain the gravy and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the turkey.
Nutrition information per serving (assumes 20 servings) (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 380 calories; 150 calories from fat (41 percent of total calories); 17 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 125 mg cholesterol; 11 g carbohydrate; 43 g protein; 0 g fiber; 270 mg sodium.