For the brine:
2-1/2 gallons water
2-1/2 cups kosher salt
1 cup maple syrup
24 bay leaves
24 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup whole black peppercorns
2 small bunches fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 4 oz.)
1 small bunch fresh sage (about 1 oz.)
6 medium sprigs fresh rosemary
Zest and juice of 4 large lemons (remove the zest in long strips with a vegetable peeler)
For the turkey:
14- to 16-lb. natural turkey (preferably fresh)
1 recipe Three-Herb Butter, softened
2 Tbs. kosher salt
2 Tbs. freshly ground black pepper
2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted
For the gravy:
2-1/2 oz. (5 Tbs.) unsalted butter
2-1/2 oz. (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
4 cups Three-Herb Turkey Broth or low-salt chicken broth
1-1/2 cups Pinot Noir
Freshly ground black pepper
Two days ahead, prepare the brine:
Put all of the brine ingredients in a 5-gallon stockpot with a lid. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool to room temperature, cover the pot, and refrigerate the brine until cold, preferably overnight.
One day ahead: brine the turkey:
If already loose, trim the tail from the turkey. Otherwise, leave it attached. Remove and discard the giblets. Keep the neck and tail in the refrigerator. Rinse the turkey and put it in the pot with the brine. Refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours before roasting the turkey.
Prepare and roast the turkey:
Position a rack in the bottom of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine. Rinse the turkey well, pat it dry, and set it in a large flameproof roasting pan. Gently slide your hand between the breast meat and skin to separate the skin so you can apply the herb butter. Slice the herb butter into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and distribute them evenly between the skin and breast meat, completely covering the breast. Maneuver a few pieces between the skin and legs, too. Next, with your hands on the outside of the turkey, massage the butter under the skin to distribute it evenly and break up the round pieces so the turkey won’t look polka-dotted when it’s done.
Sprinkle 1 Tbs. of the salt and 1 Tbs. of the pepper in the cavity of the turkey. Tie the legs together. Fold the wings back and tuck the tips under the neck area. Flip the turkey onto its breast, pat the back dry, and brush with some of the melted butter. Sprinkle with some of the remaining salt and pepper. Flip the turkey over, pat dry again, brush all over with the remaining butter, and sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper. Put the reserved neck and tail in the pan with the turkey. Cover the pan very tightly with foil and put in the oven, legs pointing to the back of the oven, if possible (the legs can handle the higher heat in the back better than the breast can). Roast undisturbed for 2 hours and then uncover carefully (watch out for escaping steam). Continue to roast, basting every 15 minutes with the drippings that have collected in the pan, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of both thighs reads 170° to 175°F and the juices run clear when the thermometer is removed, 45 minutes to 1 hour more for a 15-lb. turkey.
Remove the turkey from the oven. With a wad of paper towels in each hand, move the turkey to a serving platter, cover with foil to keep warm, and set aside. Discard the neck and tail; reserve the drippings in the roasting pan. Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes while you make the gravy and heat the side dishes
Make the gravy:
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the flour and quickly whisk it into the butter until it’s completely incorporated. Cook, whisking constantly, until the roux smells toasty and darkens slightly to a light caramel color (see image below), about 2 minutes. Watch carefully, as you don’t want it to get too dark. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Pour the reserved turkey drippings into a clear, heatproof container, preferably a fat separator cup. (Don’t rinse the roasting pan.) Let sit until the fat rises to the top, and then pour out 1 cup of the juices (or remove and discard the fat with a ladle and measure 1 cup of the juices). Combine the juices with the turkey or chicken broth.
Set the roasting pan on top of the stove over two burners on medium heat. Add the Pinot Noir and simmer, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to release any stuck-on bits, until the wine has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the broth mixture and simmer to meld the flavors, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the roux a little at a time until you have reached your desired thickness (you may not want to use it all). Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Strain through a fine sieve and transfer to a serving vessel.
Make Ahead Tips
The brine should be prepared 2 days before the Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey should be brined the day before. The roux may be prepared on Thanksgiving day and left at room temperature; whisk to recombine before using.
Leftover turkey is delicious in Turkey & Sweet Potato Hash
nutrition information (per serving):
photo: Scott Phillips
From Fine Cooking 88
, pp. 48
September 18, 2007