Brine-Cured Roast Turkey
4 hours 15 minutes (plus 72 hours for brining)
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 large onion, peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup diced celery
- 1 leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned and diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 star anise
- 2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 12- to 14-pound naturally fed, free-range turkey
- 4 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- Fresh rosemary branches, optional
- NOTE: If you do not have all of the herbs, it is ok, the most important part of this recipe are the water, sugar and salt.
In 16-quart or larger stockpot, bring 2 gallons water to a boil. Add salt and sugar, and stir until completely dissolved. Turn off heat, and add carrot, onion, celery and leek. Add bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander, red pepper, fennel seeds, star anise and thyme. Refrigerate until cold.
Remove giblets from turkey. Cover and refrigerate liver if using in stuffing. Discard remaining giblets or reserve for another use. Add turkey to stockpot. If necessary, weight it with a plate so that it stays below the brine’s surface. Refrigerate for 72 hours, then remove from brine and allow to come to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Loosely fill the turkey at both ends with stuffing, and truss as you would a chicken.
Place turkey in a large roasting pan, and roast until it starts to brown, about 25 minutes. Reduce oven setting to 350 degrees, and roast for 12 minutes more per pound, until internal temperature at the deepest part of the leg reaches 130 degrees. (Total roasting time will be about 3 hours.) Baste frequently with olive oil or butter and pan juices, using rosemary branches as a brush if desired. If the bird begins to darken too much, cover it loosely with a piece of foil. Before serving, remove turkey from oven and leave covered with foil. Allow it to rest for 20 minutes before carving and spooning the stuffing into a serving dish.