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Every Thanksgiving, I used to bathe my turkey in a brine made of wine, citrus and herbs and spices. Not any more! Inspired by chef Judy Rodgers of San Francisco's Zuni Café, this turkey uses the easiest brining method I have ever used. Salt it, bag it and forget it. According to all of my guests and family, it is also the most flavorful I have ever served.
- Best to use a fresh turkey. However, is using a frozen bird, ensure that it is not injected with sodium. Otherwise, you’ll have an overly-salty bird.
- Wash turkey inside and out and pat dry. Use 1 tablespoon of salt for every 5 pounds (15-pounds would be 3 tablespoons).
- Sprinkle inside of turkey with salt.
- Place turkey on its back and salt breasts, concentrating in the center, where meat is thickest. It may take slightly more than a tablespoon. It should appear liberally seasoned, but not overly so. You can add other flavors if desired, like minced rosemary.
- Turn turkey on one side and sprinkle with salt, concentrating on thigh, using just over a tablespoon. Flip turkey over and salt the other side.
- Place turkey in a 2½-gallon sealable plastic bag, press air out and seal tightly.
- Place turkey breast-side up in refrigerator. Chill 3 days, turning onto breast for final day.
- Remove turkey from bag. No salt should be visible on surface, but skin should be moist. Place turkey breast-side up on a plate. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.
- On cooking day, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Leave turkey at room temperature at least 1 hour.
- Brush turkey lightly with butter or oil.
- Roast turkey for 30 minutes, breast side down.
- Turn turkey breast side up. Fill cavity with lemon, celery, carrot, onion and herbs. Reserve parsley for garnish.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Return turkey to oven and roast until thermometer in deepest part of thigh reads165 degrees, after about 2¾ hours.
- Remove turkey from oven, transfer to warm platter or carving board. Tent loosely with foil. Let rest at least 30 minutes for juices to redistribute through meat. This is a good time to use the drippings to make pan gravy.
- Carve, garnish with parsley and serve.