A tender Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey. Brining tenderizes the meat while adding flavour. Unlike marinating, which flavours the outside of the meat, brining gives deeper flavour and increased moisture.
1 12 to 16-lb. turkey, preferably organic, fresh or frozen*, unstuffed
1 1.36-kg package kosher salt (about 3 lb.)
6 L cold water
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
12 sage leaves, shredded
* If buying frozen, it can take up to three days to thaw in the fridge.
Step 1: Get out your largest pot: a canning or lobster pot works well. Fill pot with cold water and salt, then add turkey. The turkey needs 6-8 hours of brining, so account for both brining time and cooking time when determining your dinner time. (For example, to serve an 8 p.m. dinner, put fresh or fully defrosted turkey in brine by 9 a.m. so it will be oven-ready by 5 p.m.)
Step 2: Once turkey is done brining, remove the bird from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Remove giblets and neck. Combine soft butter with sage leaves and rub over skin.
Step 3: Preheat the oven to 500°F. Roast the turkey at the lowest level of the oven for 30 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 350°F. A 14 to 16-lb. bird should require a total of 2 to 2-1/2 hours of roasting. A meat thermometer inserted into the leg (but not touching the bone) should read at least 161°F.
Step 4: Take turkey out of the oven and brush off crisped sage leaves. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil, before carving, while you make the gravy. If not making gravy, let turkey rest, tented under foil, for 15 minutes before carving.