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Thanksgiving Recipe: Herb-Roasted Turkey With Gravy From Chef David Katz Of Meme

This herb-roasted turkey is a knock-out! The darker spots seen above are actually herbs nesteled between the breast meat and the skin. Trust us, it's super delicious! Photo: A.Calbeck for GPTMC

This is the first installment of our Thanksgiving recipe coverage we announced earlier. First up, Chef David Katz from Meme.

David Katz is clear about one thing: don’t mess with your food, too much.

A strong believer in using the best possible ingredients you can get your hands on (perfect for a home cook who likes to source local!), Chef Katz focuses on cooking techniques that coax out the best flavors possible, rather than those that require complicated kitchen equipment. Katz’s restaurant, Meme, an homage to his Jewish-Moroccan grandmother, turns out amazing bistro-style dishes and some damn-good fried chicken (Thursday lunch only, but we digress).

Below is a turkey recipe inspired by Katz’s recent class at COOK, where he perfectly roasted chicken with an herb butter. Here we swap out chicken for turkey, but the technique is still designed to help any poultry roast to perfection.

Haven’t ordered your fresh, local turkey for Thanksgiving yet? Don’t fret, consult our round-up of local spots that can secure you a bird.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 garlic clove, minced
1 14-16-pound turkey; neck and gizzard removed (reserve for making stock)

For Base of Roasting Pan
2 large fresh rosemary sprigs
2 large fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 large onion, diced
3 large carrots, pealed and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 cups (about) Chicken or Turkey Stock

2 cups reserved pan drippings (additional chicken or turkey stock to equal 2 cups)
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons flour

Equipment Needed
1 large stove and oven-top safe roasting pan
fat separator

Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 350°F.

Mix butter and herbs in small bowl. Rinse turkey inside and out; pat dry. Place on rack set in large roasting pan. Sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper. Starting at neck end, slide hand between skin and breast meat to loosen skin. Be careful not to rip the skin, (you can use a wooden spoon to separate the skin from the breast meat if desired, but your hands are really the best tools). Spread 4 tablespoons of the herb butter over breast meat under skin. Rub 1/2 of the remaining butter over outside of turkey, reserve remaining butter. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together with kitchen twine loosely to hold shape.

In roasting pan, combine diced onions, carrots and celery with olive oil and add 1 cup of stock and the herbs in a single layer. Place rack over vegetables and set the turkey, breast side up on the rack. Roast uncovered for 1 hour. Add another cup of stock to drippings, tent turkey breast and tops of drumsticks loosely with foil and roast 1 hour longer. Remove foil and baste turkey with stock and melted reserved herb butter every 30 minutes, until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F. Transfer turkey to platter; let stand 30 minutes (internal temperature will increase 5 to 10 degrees) before carving.

While turkey is resting, remove rack from roasting pan and strain pan juices into a fat separator. Let pan juices cool slightly so that the fat rises to the top. Pour juices into a measuring cup, leaving fat behind in separator. If the reserved pan juices (without the fat) do not equal 2 cups, add stock.

Set roasting pan over moderately high heat and add butter and flour. Whisk up any browned bits that are stuck to the pan. Start adding the pan juices slowly, whisking constantly to make a smooth paste; whisk in the remaining pan juices. Lower the heat to moderately low and simmer the gravy, whisking occasionally, until the floury taste is gone and the gravy is smooth and thickened and has a sheen, at least five minutes. Salt and Pepper to taste. Pour into a gravy boat and serve alongside turkey.

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