It's time to turk the cookie! That's what my mom, the infamous "Gramma Sue" who is mentioned in so many of these recipes, would say every Thanksgiving morning. It was a mistake the first time, but she was kidding after. I think.
In our Thanksgivings, we do one smoked turkey and one roasted turkey. Jill, even those she's vegetarian, loves cooking the roasted turkey, and it always comes out great each time. This is how we do it.
Make sure the turkey is thawed!! To be safe, a frozen turkey should thaw for five days in the fridge.
If you have time, brine your turkey. It makes a big difference. I do a dry brine now. Here are the two ways you can brine:
If you have time. Do a three-day dry brine. It's retty easy really. Take a combination of 2 Tbsp Kosher Salt and 1 tsp Herbs de Provence (or Italian Seasoning if you don't have the French Stuff) for every five pounds of tukey. And rub the inside and outside of the turkey with the mixture. Put it in a turkey oven bag and keep it refrigerated for 3 days.
If you only have one day - Do an overnight soaking brine. My Aunt Catherine gave me this recipe. Add 1/2 cup salt and 1/4 cup sugar for every gallon of water. You can add lemon or orange slices if you like. She adds 4 cinnamon sticks and a handful of cloves. I don't do that, but if that sounds good to you, go for it. In a large container, soak the turkey in the brine for at least one full day.
About an hour before you are ready to cook, take the brined turkey out of the fridge. Wash the turkey under running water. Take out the neck and giblets and reserve for broth.
Fill the cavity lightly (don't stuff it) with a quartered onion, a cut up stick of butter, and some quartered oranges. Smear the turkey with softened butter, sprinkle top with salt and pepper, and cover with a cheesecloth. Yes, I know, it's a lot of butter. It's Thanksgiving - give yourself permission!
Preheat the oven to 300 (convection) or 325 (normal).
Make a mixture of the remainder of butter (melted) and the white wine or champagne. Use the cheap stuff! This is for basting.
Place in a Roasting Pan on a rack, and cook for 10-12 minutes per pounds.
Note - Time this out. For me - I plan on 12 minutes per pound (it is usually more like 10 in my oven) plus 30 minutes, and then it's dinner time. So it you put a 20 pound bird in at 9:00 AM, it takes 240 minutes (4 hours) to cook, and I'm ready to serve any time from 1:30 to 2:30.
Baste the turkey every 30 minutes, using the wine/butter mixture at first, then using the turkey's own drippings.
When the breast meat temp reaches 165, and/or the leg temp reaches 175, take the bird out, gently take off the cheesecloth, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes and for up to two hours. If you're going to wait over an hour, cover loosely with foil.
While the turkey is roasting, Put the neck and the giblets (my father-in will eat giblets all day) in a sauce pan with 6 cups of water, 2 celery stalks, 2 carrots, thyme, a bay leaf, black pepper, and you're off. Cook for 2 hours, then strain.
Save the broth for the gravy. Cut up the neck meat for the gravy. We use just the neck meat and let my father-in-law take care of the giblets - not everybody likes them! Throw away everything else. Put the broth and meat aside for later.
After the turkey is done, take the bird out of the roaster and let it rest. Skim the fat off of the top of the turkey drippings. I cheat on this one. My in-laws gave me a "fat separator" that is very easy to use. I pour the broth into it, wait 5 minutes for it to separate, and pour the fatty drippings back into the pan.
Take the turkey pan with all of the fat-reduced drippings and place it on the stove. Heat, then slowly whisk or stir in 1 cup of flour, making a nice roux.
Note - If your roaster pan won't go onto the stove, then use another pan. It's no problem.
Slowly add the broth that you made, whisking or stirring it into the roux. Add extra broth if you need it until you have a thick, beautiful gravy. Taste and add salt if needed. Add the cut up giblets if you want. See thickening notes below.
The gravy is ready!
Serving Size 1 serving for every 1.5 pounds of turkey.