I have tried so many different ways of cooking a Thanksgiving turkey, slow cooked 200º ; fast cooking 400º ; breast down, breast up; stuffed with dressing, not stuffed; regular salt, course kosher salt; herbs, no herbs; soaked in a salt brine, and marinated in apple cider, even deep fat frying. I have tried anything that sounded reasonable. They were all eatable, but today I do something like this:
20 lb. or more turkey – turkey will thaw in the fridge in about four days.
Remove giblets and neck from cavities of turkey (I forgot this step on the first turkey I did). The giblets and neck can be boiled in salt water and used in the dressing. Saving the water for the gravy.
Rinse and dry bird. Season cavity with 2 tsp. kosher salt and fill cavity with large pieces of two carrots, four stalks of celery and one onion (These add flavor to the meat. Discard when turkey is cooked.) Make an herb butter of: 1 cup butter, 2 tsp. of each thyme, sage, parsley and chives; 1 tsp. rosemary. Starting at the neck end of turkey, loosen skin by sliding fingers underneath it. Slide hand as far as possible toward other end of turkey, separating skin from meat. Rub two-thirds of herb butter under skin, over entire breast. Sprinkle with kosher salt and cover with thin piece of cloth (like cheese cloth) pour ½ cube melted butter over the cloth. Baste every hour.
Preheat oven/electric roasting pan to 350º. Place turkey breast down
Turkey is done when the breast meat reaches an internal temperature of 170º. Remove from oven and let stand 30 minutes before carving. This lets the juices settle into the meat making a moister meat. Carve against the grain of the meat. Garnish with orange slices and parsley.” – Nadine