Tom Colicchio's Herb-Butter Turkey from 'The Epicurious Cookbook'


[Photograph: Ellen Silverman]

When I begin planning my Thanksgiving meal, the most contentious item is the turkey—okay, not the turkey itself, but its method of preparation. To brine or not to brine? To roast low and slow or hot and well-browned? Should it be flipped during cooking or spatchcocked for efficiency? After all of this deliberation, however, I most often just stick the bird in the oven and monitor its temperature carefully.

In The Epicurious Cookbook, editor Tanya Steel offers a variation of the traditional method. Credited to Top Chef's Tom Colicchio, this bird is roasted hot to brown the skin, and then low and slow to finish. What sets it apart, however, is the unabashed use of butter. This is not a turkey simply rubbed down with butter. It is slathered, stuffed, and basted with the stuff, and then the gravy is spiked with a couple more tablespoons for good measure. A couple tablespoons of chopped herbs go a long way to flavor the bird, but, really, it's a celebration of what good, creamy butter can do to enhance a plain ol' turkey.

Why I picked this recipe: One word: butter.

What worked: The method worked great; this was probably my most well-browned turkey in recent memory, and the fragrance of the herb-butter perfumed my kitchen in the most salivating of ways.

What didn't: I ended up skimming off a substantial amount of fat from my pan juices before adding them to my gravy base (there was over a cup of fat). I'd recommend doing the same unless you like greasy gravy.

Suggested tweaks: The recipe headnote suggests switching up herbs to suit your taste, as well as adding a lemon half or two to the bird's cavity while roasting.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies (each) of Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well and The Epicurious Cookbook to give away this week.