3 c kosher salt
1 c brown sugar
1½ tsp pepper
4 bay leaves
4 stems fresh thyme
3 stems fresh sage
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 gallon boiling water
8 pounds ice cubes
Garlic Herb Butter
8 Tbs butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tsp fresh thyme leaves
3 tsp fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
½ tsp black pepper
Step 1: Stir the salt, brown sugar, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, sage, and garlic together in a large stock pot. Add 1 gallon of water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and allow the mixture to steep for 25 minutes. Stir in enough ice to bring the brine amount up to 2 gallons (2 gallons = 32 cups).
Note: If your pot is not large enough, you may have to allow the brine to cool and add the additional amount when pouring the brine into the bag in the following step.
Step 2: Place the turkey in a large zip-top bag. I recommend the Ziploc Big Bags (size large). Put the bagged turkey in a clean cooler. Pour the brine over the turkey, in the bag, making sure the breasts are fully submerged. Zip the bag closed. Place the cooler in a cool place, such as your garage, and allow the turkey to soak in the cold brine for 12-24 hours.
Use gel packs or bagged ice around the zipped bag inside the cooler, if necessary, to keep the brine below 40°F. (Adding more ice directly to the brine would only dilute it.)
After the brining process, transfer the turkey to a roasting pan and discard the brine.
Note: For a smaller turkey you may make less brine; however, be careful to do so with the original proportions of ingredient still intact. Too much salt will leave you with an incredibly salty turkey. Also, birds less than 10 pounds will likely not need to soak for the full 24 hours to achieve the desired results.
Garlic Herb Butter-
Step 1: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
Step 2: Rub the butter all over the inside of the turkey cavity. Lift the skin covering the turkey breast meat and rub butter on top of the meat. Place the skin back down. Continue with roasting instructions below.
Roasting the Turkey-
(For a 14-16 lb turkey)
Step 1: Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a V-rack in your roasting pan. Place the turkey, breast side down, on the V-rack. Pour 2 cups of water in the bottom of the pan.
Step 2: Place a quartered carrot, celery, and onion inside the turkey cavity if you aren't stuffing it. An un-stuffed turkey will cook faster. If you are stuffing the turkey, do not tightly pack it in.
Step 3: Tie the legs together using kitchen twine. Fold the wing tips under the turkey. Drizzle olive oil or melted butter on the outside of the turkey, if desired. Roast for 90 minutes.
Step 4: Remove the turkey from the oven and turn it breast side up.
Tip: It helps to have a big wad of paper towels in each hand so you can easily flip it without slipping or burning yourself. Baste the turkey with pan drippings. Add an additional cup of water to the pan. Roast the turkey for an additional 40-65 minutes or until the meat thermometer inserted in the breast registers 160-165°F and the leg/thigh registers at about 170°F. Check to make sure the pan drippings and water have not completely evaporated, causing the herbs to burn. If the turkey begins to brown too much before it has reached the correct temperatures, cover it with foil.
Step 5: Transfer the turkey to a platter and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before carving.