Do not let the Thanksgiving turkey scare you! This classic dry-brine method s the perfect way to impart tons of flavor to the turkey. So rather than having a mediocre turkey, this one will live on in your memory for years to come!
1tbspkosher salt per every 4 lbs turkey (example: 3 tbsp for a 12 lb turkey)
1largeonionskin left intact and chopped into quarters
1headgarlicchopped in half
For the basting liquid
1 ½cupsunsalted butter
1bottle (750 mL)dry white wine
Combine the coriander, black peppercorns, fennel seed, mustard seeds, and bay leaves in a small skillet. Set the mixture over medium-low heat. Stir the mixture until the spices are fragrant and toasted, 4-6 minutes. Once they are toasted, remove the skillet from the heat. Add the spices to a mortar and grind them into a coarse powder. Alternatively, the spices can be ground in a spice grinder. Once the spices are ground, add the minced sage, thyme leaves, sugar, and salt and mix to combine.
Remove the giblets and neck from the thawed turkey and set the turkey on a small rimmed baking sheet that will catch any juices. Rub the salt mixture over the entire turkey, including the cavity. The salt mixture can also be rubbed underneath the skin. Once the salt is all used on the turkey, set the turkey in the refrigerator uncovered for 8 to 24 hours, with 24 hours being ideal. Leaving the turkey uncovered allows the skin to dry out and become crisp during roasting.
After brining, preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, white wine, sage, and thyme and set over medium-low heat to melt the butter.
In the bottom of the roasting pan fitted with a wire rack, lay the prepared celery, carrots, onion, and garlic. Place the turkey on the rack with the breast facing up. Bend the wings forward and underneath the breasts, protecting the tips from the heat. Tie the legs together with butcher's twine.
Once the butter is melted, soak four 16-inch square pieces of cheesecloth in the butter mixture. Lay the soaked layers of cheesecloth over the breast of the turkey and down the sides, roughly covering halfway down the thighs. Baste more butter onto the cheesecloth as needed to ensure it is saturated.
Place the turkey in the preheated oven. Roast at 425°F for 30 minutes and then lower the temperature to 375°F. During roasting, baste the cheesecloth-covered turkey every 30 minutes. In the final 45 minutes of roasting, remove the cheesecloth to evenly brown the turkey. Roast until the breast registers 160°F and the thighs register 170°F. Turkey takes approximately 15 minutes to roast per pound. Once the turkey is at temperature, remove it from the oven and allow the turkey to rest for 20-30 minutes. The turkey will continue to roast from the residual heat, bringing the breast to 165°F and the thighs to 175°F. Once the turkey has rested, carve and serve.
When toasting the spices in the skillet, make sure to shake the pan every so often. This will displace the spices and prevent them from burning on the bottom of the pan.
Make sure to let the turkey sit with the dry brine for as little as 8 hours and up to 24 hours. The longer the turkey sits with the brine, the more flavor will make its way into the meat, so aim for letting it brine for 24 hours.
Do not cover the turkey while it is dry brining. Leaving it uncovered will cause the skin to dry out slightly while in the refrigerator and is essential to getting perfectly crispy and beautiful skin.
For the carrots and onion that go into the roasting pan, leave the skin and peel intact. Since these will not be consumed but are simply added for flavor, there is no reason to take the time to peel them.
Make sure to bake the turkey using a rack that lifts it off the bottom of the roasting pan. If the turkey's skin is in contact with the bottom of the pan, it may get soggy. Using something that lifts it off the bottom allows heat and air to encircle the turkey, creating an even roasting environment.
Once the turkey is done baking, make sure it is allowed to sit for 20 to 30 minutes before it is sliced. This will allow the juices in the turkey to settle as the turkey finishes baking and cools slightly.