Every year, preparing the turkey has always been a challenge for me. For I have never like preparing it the same way every year. Each year I always try a different technique and evry year I seem to bring it just a higher notch than the year before. Although, this year it will be somewhat different for me, for I won't be preparing the festivities this year.
So from my kitchen to yours, have a safe and happy holidays.
Based on a 12-14 pound turkey
Two days prior to roasting turkey you should create the brine: Place the water in a large pot that can easily hold the liquid and the meat you intend to brine. Add all the ingredients and stir for a minute or so until the sugar and salt dissolve. Refrigerate turkey in the brine for 24 hours. If the meat floats to the top, use a plate or other weight to keep it completely submerged in the brine. After 24 hours, remove from brine and dry off with towels. Refrigerate uncovered for 24 hours.
Remove turkey from fridge and leave turkey on counter for about an hour to warm up a bit. Stuff the cavity with lemons, herbs, and onions, if desired. Rub the skin with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper. Stuff compound butter (see below) under breast skin and put on roasting rack over roasting pan, breast side up. Pour 1 quart turkey or chicken stock into pan- add more during roasting if stock evaporates.
Preheat oven to 500. Place turkey in oven, legs side towards back of oven. Turn oven down to 450. Roast until the legs wiggle easily, about 2 hours. After about 20 minutes you can lift the turkey from the rack to make sure it does not stick. Baste turkey with pan juices every 15-20 minutes during roasting. Roast turkey until the thickest part of the thigh meat registers to 160-165.
The general rule for roasting turkey is to roast for 12 to 15 minutes per pound until the internal temperature at the thickest part of the thigh registers at least 165.
Remove turkey from oven and make gravy with pan juices.
Turkey Butter (aka compound butter)
With the paddle attachment in a mixer, blend all ingredients until well combined. Make 2 flat patties with butter and chill. This will help stuff the butter between the turkey skin and breast meat.
Take the finished turkey out of the roasting pan to rest before carving. Place heavy bottomed sauce pan on medium heat and melt butter. Add picked thyme leaves and bay leaf.
Add flour and stir until combined. Keep stirring until mixture is light brown. Add white wine and cook until alcohol has evaporated.
Slowly whisk in hot stock, bring to a simmer and cook until desired thickness has been reached. If gravy is too thick, add stock to reach softer texture. This should take about 15 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.