Herb-Brined Turkey

Makes 15 to 20 servings
Total time required: Overnight for brining; plus normal roasting time

For turkey and brine:
1 15-to-20-pound fresh turkey
2 cups kosher salt or 1 cup plain (non-iodized) table salt
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried sage
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
1 tablespoon celery seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns

Seasoning vegetables for stuffing:
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 medium celery rib, chopped
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
About 1 1/2 quarts homemade turkey stock (made with giblets from turkey) or canned chicken stock, plus more as needed for gravy as desired.

The night before roasting, rinse turkey inside and out with cold water. Remove neck and giblets from cavity and use for turkey stock.

In a very large stockpot, mix 2 gallons cold water with salt, rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram, celery seeds and peppercorns, stirring until salt dissolves. Note: Brine mixture can be increased proportionately as needed to cover the turkey.

Place cleaned turkey in pot. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Position a rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 325F.

In small bowl, mix onion, carrot and celery.

Remove turkey from brine and rinse well, inside and out, under cold running water. Pat skin and cavity dry with paper towels. Turn turkey on its breast. Loosely fill neck cavity with onion mixture. Using a thin wooden or metal skewer, pin neck skin to the back. Fold the turkey's wings akimbo behind the back or tie to the body with twine. Loosely fill the large body cavity with the remaining onion mixture. Place the drumsticks in the wire lock or tie together with kitchen string.

Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in roasting pan. Rub well with butter. Tightly cover breast area with foil. Pour 2 cups of turkey stock into bottom of pan. Throughout cooking, add more stock as needed as it evaporates.

Roast turkey, basting all over every 30 minutes with juices from pan bottom (lift foil to baste breast area). Cook until a meat thermometer put in meaty part of the thigh (do not touch a bone with it) reaches 180 - about 4 1/2 hours. (Refer to turkey roasting chart on turkey bag, or use the pop-up indicator.)

Note: Remove foil during last hour to allow breast to brown; re-cover with foil if skin becomes too brown.

Transfer turkey to serving platter and let stand for at least 20 minutes before carving.

Use reserved drippings for gravy. Note: Do not add extra salt to gravy before tasting, as the turkey juices will be salty.

Note: Do not stuff this turkey with traditional stuffing; the extra salt in turkey's juices would ruin the stuffing. Instead, loosely fill cavities with seasoning vegetables and bake stuffing in separate pan.

Source of recipe: Rick Rodgers

Herb-Brined Turkey