Roasting a turkey for thanksgiving has become like reading books. No matter what is currently going on in our lives, this new tradition is not dropped. It started off with just the four of us, then 2 or 3 families were added and now we do the full roaster of the 9-10 families that usually meet on special occasions. Some may not be around, and some will be busy with other activities planned for this rare long weekend, but most make it to pay homage to the turkey. Besides the bird, I usually make the gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. Mashed p is so popular that a friend is roped in to make a batch and bring it along with her usual item of sweet rolls. H made some yummy salad with beans and corn this year, a fitting addition to this feast. Corn bread, roasted veggies, appetizers and desserts are outsourced to the hapless friends on the promise of a dinner. They are game and we had a very noisy and fulfilling dinner this year too.
I find that my own notes here are helping me. So here I go. We had a 23. 4 pounder bird this time. I got a brine mix from World Market which coincidentally had all the ingredients that I normally use. We set the turkey to brine in the garage instead of the refrigerator and turned the turkey in the brine once after 12 hours. This year's turkey was perfectly moist and evenly browned. I am beginning to realize that Alton Brown's recipe needs slight modifications for the organic, never frozen turkey that we roast.
Maybe 30 min at 500 degrees is good for a 23 pounder but 20 min might be enough for 12-18 pounders. After 30 min, the inner temperature this time was 64 and it took an additional 2 hours for the temp to get to 162. I think 64-70 is a good temp to start the 350 step instead of 100. This means the rest of the turkey cooks slowly to prevent over browning. The temp probe should be taken out as soon as the bird is out of the oven and set to rest on a platter covered in foil for 10-15 minutes before carving. Herbs are as good a liner for the serving platters as lettuce or cabbage. I also liked adding finely chopped rosemary and lemon thyme from my garden to canola butter for the turkey rub. Pouring about 1/2 cup water in the pan before placing the roasting pan in the oven each time it went in helped to reduce the oven smoke and kept the pan less burnt for gravy making.
For stuffing, the store cut onion celery mix ended up being better than fennel bulb and onions cut at home. Curly parsley is a flavorful addition to stuffing or gravy or roasted red potatoes.