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Spiced-Butter Roast Turkey with Rosemary and Bourbon Spiked Gravy

Makes 8 servings
  • Active time: 45 min
    Total time: 3 1/2 hr
Spiced butter infuses the bird of the day while it's roasting and then links up with rosemary and Bourbon in the gravy to give this dish a one-two punch.

If, like many foodies, you want to make gravy from the best from-scratch turkey stock you'll ever taste, then by all means make the brown turkey stock that follows. On the other hand, if, like many of us, you are short of time, the following recipe gives you an excellent and very satisfying option, using the flavorful giblets lurking inside your turkey to enrich the pan juices, along with a store-bought stock or broth.


For Spiced Butter:

  • 1/2 pound (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne (or reduce further or skip altogether if feeding lots of children)
  • 3/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika (sometimes labeled pimentón dulce)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For Turkey and Gravy:

  • 1 (12- to 15-pound) turkey, including neck and giblets (excluding liver)
  • 3 cups water
  • 6 (4-inch) rosemary sprigs
  • 4 cups Brown Turkey Stock or reduced sodium chicken stock or broth
  • 6 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Bourbon


  • a 17- by 14-inch flameproof roasting pan with a flat rack; kitchen string; a 2-quart measuring cup or a fat separator


Make Spiced Butter:

  • Stir together all spiced butter ingredients until combined well.

Roast Turkey:

  • Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry.
  • Working from large cavity end, gently run your fingers between skin and meat to loosen skin, being careful not to tear skin. Push half of butter (8 tablespoons) under skin, including thighs and drumsticks, and massage skin from outside to spread butter evenly.
  • Rub all but 2 tablespoons remaining butter (about 6 tablespoons) on turkey breast, then sprinkle cavity with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  • Put rosemary sprigs, turkey neck, and giblets in roasting pan under and around rack and put turkey on rack in roasting pan.
  • Fold neck skin under body, then tuck wing tips under breast and tie drumsticks together with string.
  • Let turkey stand at room temperature 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in lower third.
  • Pour 2 cups water into roasting pan and roast turkey 45 minutes.
  • Rotate pan, add remaining cup of water, and tent foil over turkey to keep it from browning too quickly, then continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into fleshy part of each thigh (test both; do not touch bone) registers 165 to 170°F, 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours longer.
  • Carefully tilt turkey so juice from inside large cavity runs into pan. Transfer turkey to a platter (reserve juices in roasting pan) and let rest, uncovered, 30 minutes (temperature of thigh meat will rise to 170 to 175°F.) Discard string.

Make Gravy:

  • Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into 2-quart measuring cup and skim off fat (or use a fat separator), reserving fat. Return rosemary sprigs to roasting pan.
  • Straddle pan across 2 burners, then add 1 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock and deglaze pan by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute.
  • Strain through sieve into measuring cup containing pan juices and add enough remaining turkey or chicken stock to measure 5 cups.
  • Put 1/4 cup reserved fat in a 4-quart heavy saucepan, then whisk in flour and cook roux over medium heat, whisking, 3 minutes. Add stock mixture in a fast stream, whisking constantly, then add Bourbon and bring to a boil, whisking.
  • Reduce heat and simmer gravy, whisking occasionally, 6 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons spice butter and salt and pepper to taste.


  • Spiced butter can be made 1 week ahead and chilled. Soften before using.
  • Spiced butter can be put under and rubbed over turkey skin 1 day ahead; chill turkey, uncovered, until butter is firm, then cover with plastic wrap. Remove plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature 1 hour before roasting.