I'll just come out and say it: I've never cooked a turkey before. I'm a little embarrassed since I supposedly like to cook :). So I found this recipe on the Food Network with high ratings. I had to google "how to prepare a turkey" since I didn't have any clue.
So, for those of you who haven't cooked a turkey before, the only thing you have to do is remove the innards from the rear of the turkey (but they are packed in paper so they aren't too gross) AND remove the neck from the front of the turkey. The turkey also must be completely thawed.
The brine gave the turkey a wonderful flavor. Also, the cooking times listed below are right on, creating just the right amount of moisture in the meat (meaning, it's not too dry!). This recipe is completely delicious.
1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey
For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock (you can make this homemade or use vegetable broth if you don't have time)
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries (whole allspice)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water
For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
2 to 3 days before roasting:
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F. (OR just buy a fresh one!)
Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
The day you'd like to eat the turkey:
Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. Cover breast of turkey with foil. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 3 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.