Cook the Book: 'Good Eats: The Early Years'

20091123goodeatstheearlyyears.jpgAs far as television food personalities go, Alton Brown is the perfect combination of wacky mad scientist, comedian, and food nerd extraordinaire.

Way back in 1998, Brown aired the first episode of Good Eats on a Chicago PBS station. In Brown's own words, Good Eats set out to be a combination of Julia Child's kitchen chops, Mr. Wizard-style accessible science, and Monty Python's unique brand of silliness. Knowing a good thing when they saw one, Food Network picked up the show a year later Good Eats is now well into its thirteenth season.

With more than 200 episodes of the show under his belt, Brown has recently released Good Eats: The Early Years, a massive tome that includes all of the recipes from the first 80(!) episodes of Good Eats.

The first season covered basics, correct steak cooking procedures (Steak Your Claim), proper potatoes (This Spud's for You), and baking techniques (The Dough Also Rises, shot with the help of Brown's grandmother). That first season also gave birth to one of my favorite Good Eats traditions: the Thanksgiving episode.

Romancing the Bird was the first hour-long special that Brown and company did together. It was a mix of sci-fi influences derived from The Matrix and Mystery Science Theater 3000 and an introduction to the somewhat revolutionary practice of brining your bird. This first Thanksgiving-themed episode shared the secrets for the Good Eats Roast Turkey and became a quick cult classic.

Behind the Bird is the follow-up episode to Romancing the Bird. It's a not-too-terrifying riff on The Blair Witch Project in which Brown and company are forced to survive on Thanksgiving leftovers. Considering the circumstances, they manage to do pretty well for themselves with a Bird to the Last Drop turkey soup and a Turkey Salad with Dried Cranberries. But if your menu has left you with no time for television, we'll be sharing all of the recipes (and a few secrets) from these Thanksgiving shows plus some of Brown's approved sides.

Win 'Good Eats: The Early Years'

Thanks to the generosity of the folks over at Stewart, Tabori & Chang, we are giving away five (5) copies of Good Eats: The Early Years this week. All you have to do is tell us your favorite food-related Thanksgiving story in the comments section below.

Five (5) people will be chosen at random among the eligible comments below. We're sorry, but entry is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. Comments will close Monday, November 30 at noon ET. The standard Serious Eats contest rules apply.