October 7, 2014

Golden Butter-Basted Turkey

Recipe: Eric Vellend

Letting the turkey come to room temperature before cooking is essential: it reduces the roasting time and allows the bird to cook more evenly.


  • 1 12-to 16-lb. fresh turkey, preferably free-range
  • 3 to 4 tbsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 4 bay leaves,divided
  • 4 sprigs rosemary,divided
  • 1 head garlic, halved horizontally
  • 1 cup hard dry apple cider, such as Strongbow
  • 1⁄2 cupunsaltedbutter,diced 1 cupwater


Yield: Serves 12 to 16

  1. Remove fatty tail end from turkey and save for gravy. Thoroughly pat turkey dry with paper towel, inside and out. Season with kosher salt (1 tbsp for every 4 lb.) going heavier on thighs and thick end of breasts. Place in roasting pan that will fit it snugly. Thoroughly wrap with plastic wrap, going right around pan. Refrigerate 48 hours, flipping and resealing at halfway point.
  2. Pat turkey dry with paper towel. Tuck wing tips under back. Place on rack in large roasting pan. Stuff cavity with 3 bay leaves, 3 sprigs rosemary, and garlic halves. Tie drumsticks together with butcher’s twine. Let sit at room temperature 2 hours.
  3. While turkey is coming to room temp, place remaining bay leaf and rosemary in small saucepan with cider over medium-high heat. Cook until cider is reduced to 1⁄4 cup, 6 minutes. Add butter. Turn off heat. Swirl pan until butter melts and emulsifies. Remove from heat. Discard herbs.
  4. Remove all oven racks except for one on lowest shelf. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare cheesecloth wrap. Cut 30″ x 15″ piece of cheesecloth. Fold in half to make 15″ square. Rinse with water. Squeeze dry. Soak cheesecloth in butter mixture until liquid is absorbed. Drape over turkey breasts and legs. Brush any exposed meat with remaining butter.
  5. Place turkey on lowest rack. Roast 30 minutes. Add 1 cup water to pan. Continue roasting, rotating pan occasionally, until instant-read thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of inner thigh without touching bone reads 165°F. Depending on size of turkey, total roasting time is 2 1⁄4 to 3 hours (approx. 10 to 12 minutes per lb.).
  6. Remove turkey from oven. Slowly and carefully remove cheesecloth. Let turkey rest uncovered 30 to 45 minutes before carving. Serve with Apple Cider Gravy and Ginger Cranberry Chutney (recipes follow).

Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott


House & Home October 2014