Pulled Turkey with Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Temps des Fêtes 2013
food and drink

BY: Signe Langford

When we hear “pulled” we automatically think of pork. Not only is this slow-and-low recipe delightfully seasonal and outrageously tasty, it’s a little lighter too. While the succulence of pulled pork comes from fat, our version uses tasty liquids instead.

1 tsp (5 mL) ground sage
1 tsp (5 mL) poultry seasoning
1 tsp (5 mL) garlic powder
2 tsp (10 mL) onion powder
1 tsp (5 mL) cayenne pepper
1 tsp (5 mL) smoked paprika
1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt
1 tsp (5 mL) black pepper
¼ cup (60 mL) brown sugar
1 skin-on, bone-in turkey breast, just shy of 2 lbs (1 kg)
1/3 cup (80 mL) chicken broth
1/3 cup (80 mL) unsweetened cranberry juice
¼ cup (60 mL) bourbon
2 bay leaves
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig sage
Bourbon Barbecue Sauce (recipe follows)
6 buns (hamburger, brioche or onion)
Five Reds Slaw (recipe follows)

1 To make the rub, add all dry spices, salt, pepper and brown sugar to a small bowl and whisk to blend well.

2 Rub as much of the spice mix as it takes to thoroughly coat the turkey breast all over. Refrigerate, covered, and let marinate for at least 4 hours but preferably 24.

3 Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C).

4 Place turkey in a small, covered roasting pan (foil will do) and add the chicken broth, cranberry juice, bourbon, bay leaves, rosemary and sage. Cover and roast for about 4 hours or until juices run clear. Try to resist peeking; you don’t want to let out that moist steam!

5 While the turkey is slow roasting, make the Bourbon Barbecue Sauce.

6 When the turkey is finished roasting, lift the lid and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, pull the meat apart with clean hands and add to a large bowl. To the pulled turkey, add 1¼ cups (300 mL) Bourbon Barbecue Sauce and mix until well coated.

7 To serve, load each bun—toasted or not, your choice—with pulled turkey, and top with Five Reds Slaw. Offer the extra barbecue sauce at the table.

Serves 6


Super easy and super tasty! Store leftovers in a jar in the refrigerator for up to a week.

2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
1 small onion, finely diced
1 cup (250 mL) ketchup
¼ cup (60 mL) apple cider vinegar
½ cup (125 mL) maple syrup
1/3 cup (80 mL) bourbon
¼ cup (60 mL) Dijon mustard
3 tbsp (45 mL) hot pepper sauce
2 tbsp (30 mL) Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp (10 mL) smoked paprika
1 tsp (5 mL) garlic powder
1 tsp (5 mL) onion powder
1 tsp (5 mL) ground ginger

1 In a large, heavy-bottom pot, over medium-high heat add butter and onion, and cook until onion softens, about 5 minutes.

2 Add the remaining ingredients, stirring well—use a whisk to break up any spice clumps—and bring to a gentle boil.

3 Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until sauce thickens. Stir often so the sugars in the sauce don’t stick and
burn. Continue to simmer and stir for about 15 minutes.

Makes 2 cups (500 mL)


The bitterness of the radicchio is a wonderful counterpoint to the sweet bourbon sauce but if it’s not available where you are, substitute with ½ head of red cabbage. Don’t own a mandolin? The single blade of most box graters  is perfect for “shaving.”

1 head radicchio
1 small red onion
3 radishes
1 red-skinned apple
½ red pepper
1/3 cup (80 mL) good mayonnaise, preferably made with free-run eggs
3 tbsp (45 mL) apple cider vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard
Sea salt and pepper to taste

1 Using a mandolin, box grater or very sharp knife, very thinly slice radicchio, onion, radishes and apple, and finely dice the pepper.
Set aside.

2 In a large, non-reactive bowl, using a whisk, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, Dijon, salt and pepper.

3 Add the vegetables to the bowl and toss to coat evenly with dressing.

Makes 6 servings

What to Serve