Brined Thanksgiving Turkey

1 cup kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 turkey (11 - 14 pounds) thawed if frozen, giblet bag, neck and tail cut off and removed for gravy, excess fat around each cavity removed and discarded
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
3 T. melted butter

  1. Mix the salt and sugar with 1 gallon of water in a bucket or pan large enough to hold the turkey. If you need more water to cover the bird, mix more in the same proportions. Place the turkey breast side down in the water. If part of the bird is not fully submerged, that's ok. Refrigerate for 12 - 15 hours. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse and pat dry.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Place half of the onions, carrot and celery in the turkey cavity and scatter remaining aromatics in the bottom of the pan. Pour one cup water over the vegetables.
  4. Set V-rack in pan. Secure wings and legs. Place turkey, breast side down on V-rack. Brush back and sides with melted butter. Roast for 45 minutes.
  5. Remove pan from oven. Baste the turkey's back with pan drippings, adding water if necessary. With a wad of paper towels in each hand, turn the turkey on it's side so one leg and wing are up. Return to oven and roast 20 minutes.
  6. Again grab the paper towels and turn so the other leg and wing are up. Baste. Add more water to the bottom of the pan and continue roasting another 20 minutes.
  7. For a third time, turn turkey breast side up, baste and continue roasting for 35 - 55 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer registers 160-165 in the breast and 170 in the thigh. Add water as necessary so the vegetables don't burn.
  8. Let rest at least 30 minutes before carving.

I found this recipe in the Sunday Parade magazine one Thanksgiving. Pam Anderson was the author.

Additional notes:
  1. Look in the Jewish foods section of your grocery store or health food store for the kosher salt.
  2. Don't brine kosher or self-basting turkeys. They've already been brined at the factory.
  3. Don't buy a big turkey. If more than 14 pounds, you won't be able to turn it in the oven. If feeding a big crowd, cook two turkeys - one early in the morning and one right before the meal. The first can be carved and ready to serve for "firsts" and the second can be presented at the table and carved during or after the meal for "seconds" or leftovers.
  4. A nice V-rack can be found at most kitchen stores for about $12. I got mine at Linens and Things.
  5. Don't stuff the turkey. Bake the stuffing separately. The more time the turkey sits in a hot oven, the more likely it is to overcook. The aromatics that you cook in the cavity improves the flavor of the meat without slowing down the cooking process.
  6. I like to have lots of gravy for leftovers and to send home with my guests. To do this, I boil the neck in a large pot of water for 45 minutes. This broth, along with the pan drippings makes more gravy than the drippings alone.