Brined, Roasted Whole Turkey
Yield: 10 to 12 servings 5 gallon bucket or large stock pot 1 fresh turkey, (12-14 pounds) giblets removed
Turkey Brine: 1 ½ cups (coarse) Kosher salt 1 cup dark brown sugar 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns 2 gallons very cold water, divided 8 springs thyme 3 bay leaves 3 oranges, halved For Roasting: 1 head garlic, cut in half, crosswise 1 yellow onion, quartered 7 sprigs of fresh thyme In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 2 cups of water with the salt, brown sugar, thyme, bay leaves, and black peppercorns. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the salt and sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat then stir in two cups of very cold water. In the 5-gallon bucket or large stock pot, combine the remaining 28 cups very cold water, with the orange halves (squeezing the juice into the pot as you add them), plus the salt/sugar/herbed water from above. Add the turkey, breast first, to the pot. The water should al but cover the entire turkey. Transfer to the refrigerator and allow to brine for 12 hours. After 12 hours, remove the turkey from the pot, discarding the liquid, then pat the turkey dry. Transfer the turkey to a large roasting pan with a cookie tray underneath to keep the turkey elevated off the bottom of the roasting pan. Stuff the cavity with the garlic, onion, and thyme. Insert the digital thermometer probe into the thickest part of the breast (without touching any bone with the end of the probe), and set the digital thermometer for 163°F.
Move the oven rack to the lowest level, and preheat the oven to 425°F. Transfer the turkey to the preheated oven and cook for 1 hour, or until the breasts are nicely colored, then using a cloth or pot holders to protect your hands from burning, cover the breasts tightly with foil, then reduce the heat to 365°F and continue to cook until the digital thermometer beeps, approximately another 1½ hours. Gently pull the thermometer ¼ inch out to ensure the temperature is consistent throughout the breast. If the temperature drops, continue cooking until 163°F is achieved. Remove from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, and let rest, loosely covered with foil, for at least 30 minutes prior to serving.