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Mariners Executive Chef Javier Rosa dishes on his Thanksgiving secret

Seattle Mariners Executive Chef Javier Rosa is hot off an electric first season with the team who brought back SoDo Mojo and carried it all the way to the postseason.

As new lead chef for the team and T-Mobile Park, Rosa fueled players and fans with his global experience and down-home delicious dishes. Now he's spilling his secret to the best turkey of your life.

Mayonnaise. That's the secret.

"Everything started a few years ago, when I met a French chef, and we were doing a Thanksgiving dinner together for 2,000 people," Chef Rosa said. "We were working on the turkey and I saw him grabbing mayonnaise (a lot of it), fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper. I was like, 'no way, this is not really happening.' But you know as a chef, you need to learn each day and try new things, and already being someone who loves mayonnaise, I wasn’t too scared about it. He started to spread the mayonnaise mix in and out of the turkey and spread a lot of soft butter between the skin and the meat. He let it rest overnight and cooked it the next day at 350 degrees - first covered for an hour and then uncovered the rest of the time (until the internal temp reaches 165)."

Rosa continued, "I have to say that the color of that turkey is one you have never seen until you make this recipe. It was one of the juiciest turkeys I have ever tried. Believe it or not, you will not taste any mayonnaise at all, but the mayonnaise will help achieve this magnificent golden-brown color, add shine to the skin and, most importantly, the mayonnaise bastes during the process and keeps the meat moist and tender throughout. Trust me, be adventurous and try this recipe, you will not be disappointed."

Since then, Chef Rosa has developed his own chipotle mayonnaise blend that he's willing to share with the rest of us!

The following is provided by Chef Javier Rosa and the Seattle Mariners:

It may sound unusual, but when you cover your turkey with mayonnaise, it bastes it during the roasting process, keeping the meat moist and tender. With this hack, you'll win Thanksgiving—so grab a jar and get cooking.

Make the chipotle mayonnaise

You didn't think we'd ask you to just put straight mayo on this turkey, did you? Chef Javier Rosa chops up one tablespoon of fresh thyme and adds it to a mixing bowl, along with one cup of mayonnaise and lemon zest. Zest the whole lemon directly into the bowl and then quarter it and save the pieces for later. After that, grate in three garlic cloves. The real kick comes from the minced chipotle chiles.

Loosen the skin

You want to put the mayo on the outside and inside of the turkey, so it gets extra juicy. To prep it, Chef Rosa carefully slides his fingers between the skin and the turkey breast to loosen it—then, he repeats with the thighs. This step is crucial and helps get the mayonnaise under the skin.

Fold the wing tips

Fold the wing tips back so that you can get as much heat around the turkey as possible.

and start slathering on that mayo

Take a teaspoon, scoop up some mayo, and put it under the skin right above the breast. With a twist, scoop it off the spoon so it stays under the skin, and then use your fingers (on top of the skin) to help spread it out. Do the same thing on the other side and spread some mayo on the inside of the bird as well. Then, take the remaining mayo and spread it all over the outside, coating the turkey.

Season it

After the turkey is all mayo’d up, Chef Rosa seasons it all over with flaky sea salt and black pepper. You want to season the meat as evenly as possible, so he recommends using your other hand and placing it at an angle to help place the salt and pepper on hard-to-reach places.

Stuff it

Then, take the lemon quarters and a whole head of garlic—cut in half cross-wise—and stuff them right into the turkey. After that, tie the legs together with twine. This helps the meat to cook more evenly.

Roast it

Take the seasoned turkey and transfer it to a large roasting pan with a rack in it. Roast it in a 425-degree oven for 30 minutes, and then, drop the temperature down to 350 degrees and cook the turkey for about another hour and 15 minutes.

Keep aluminum foil handy

If the turkey browns too quickly, don't panic—just grab aluminum foil and tent it over the top.

Let it sit

The turkey is ready to come out of the oven once a thermometer inserted in the inner thigh reaches 165 degrees. Then, let it rest for 30 minutes. The end result should be golden and crispy.

Get it on a platter

Because the meat is flavored with chipotle and thyme, Chef Rosa likes to garnish the turkey with hot peppers, lemon thyme, and some garlic heads on the platter for a gorgeous table-ready presentation. Then, all that's left to do is carve and enjoy!

Seattle Refined Thanksgiving Q&A with Chef Rosa

Refined: Can you share a favorite moment or feeling from your first season with the Mariners?

Chef Rosa: I have so many incredible memories from this past season, but my favorite one is that first postseason game in our ballpark. The crowd, the excitement, the energy. It was an incredible feeling to be able to experieMeet the Mariners new Executive Chef Javier Rosa and where he likes to eatnce that. I hope to repeat that feeling next season and for many more to come.

Do the players have a favorite meal? It was a dish called “Mangu,” which is a traditional dish from the Dominican Republic. It consists of boiled smashed green plantains, accompanied by fried white cheese, seared cured salami, and pickled red onions. This was served for breakfast on a Sunday game and became a tradition for each Sunday after. Every player loved it. The only challenge was getting the right ingredients. The salami and cheese must be a specific brand and type. I was lucky that I had a team of chefs coming from Miami to help with each series. They were the ones bringing me the right product to make this dish, the traditional way.

How does your heritage impact your holiday meal planning? My holidays are based on the food of my heritage. I’m always making my mom’s recipes she shared with me when I was young. My holidays consist of making “Coquito,” which is our traditional Christmas drink. It is made with coconut milk, coconut cream, evaporated milk, condensed milk, cinnamon, and plenty of Puerto Rican Rum. People compare it to eggnog, but I don’t think they compare. Once you try Coquito, you never go back to Eggnog. I like to also do a whole roasted pig, arroz con gandules and pasteles. I always make Puerto Rican desserts like tembleque (coconut custard) and arroz con dulce (sweet rice pudding with raisin and cinnamon). I am ready to gain my extra holiday pounds and work it off in January!

What's your favorite holiday side dish? I’m always a sucker for a properly done Yukon mashed potato, with lots of butter, Boursin cheese, roasted garlic, and some fresh truffle.

Are you a pumpkin pie guy? Ohhhh YESSS pumpkin pie all the way! But I also love to have Croquembouche with white chocolate, ginger cookies, salted caramel pie, Bûche de Noël with Mascarpone Cream, and dark chocolate ganache, to name a few.

Do you have a favorite holiday memory to share? I always think of my first holiday when I moved somewhere new. There is always a special element that each place I've lived has brought to my holiday memories.

What are you looking forward to in the Mariners 2023 season? There is so much planning already happening for next season. We started to create new menus and plan the day right after our last game at T-Mobile Park. I am excited about our two new club openings, the 2023 All-Star Game and so much more! I am looking forward to so many things in 2023, especially seeing this amazing team have a great season and go all the way in the postseason. Go Mariners!

Finally, we have to thank Chef Javier Rosa for this excellent advice and reminder:

Chef Rosa: Don’t rush the cooking process, give yourself time to work the flavors. Enjoy the moment, bring your kids together for them to learn how to cook or get them involved one way or the other in the preparation of it. Don’t be afraid to think out of the box and create new things, be willing to learn new recipes and try them. Let the food and cheerful moments bring your family together.

Happy Thanksgiving!

More: Meet the Mariners new Executive Chef Javier Rosa and where he likes to eat